Falconio killer’s power behind bars

 

Bradley John Murdoch is clinging to the only power he has left, refusing to say where he disposed of the remains of his murder victim Peter Falconio in the Australian outback.

Almost 20 years have passed and Murdoch, 62, is still tormenting his victims.

Peter Falconio's father Luciano told me last week that finding Peter's body has been "what it's all about for the past 20 years."

He didn't want to comment further, but the pain on his face at his home in Huddersfield, a picturesque English village about an hour from Manchester, was still clear.

Why did it happen to his son?

Why did it happen at all?

Bradley John Murdoch surrounded by police arrives at Darwin airport from Adelaide 24 November 2003. Picture: AFP
Bradley John Murdoch surrounded by police arrives at Darwin airport from Adelaide 24 November 2003. Picture: AFP

 

Murdoch's motive has remained unclear, but a jury took only eight hours to unanimously find in 2005 that he did shoot Falconio at the back of his orange Kombi van after flagging him over under the ruse there was something wrong with the vehicle.

He also tied up Joanne Lees, but she managed to escape into saltbush on the side of the road and he never found her.

If Lees did not get away, the couple may have just been missing persons cases for decades.

There are not too many dog walkers who would find a body in red dirt outside Alice Springs.

A documentary airing on Australian television this week raises questions about whether Murdoch was guilty.

It gives weight to some eyewitnesses, and disgraced defence lawyer Andrew Fraser, who knows the inside a jail himself after being sentenced to seven years at Her Majesty's pleasure over a cocaine importation bust.

An appeal court upheld his conviction in 2007, and a 2013 appeal bid was eventually withdrawn by Murdoch's lawyers.

 

English tourist murder victim Peter Falconio with his girlfriend Joanne Lees.
English tourist murder victim Peter Falconio with his girlfriend Joanne Lees.

 

The documentary did change the mind of Joanne Lees' stepfather Vincent James.

But the facts of the case were damning, Murdoch's DNA was found on a T-shirt Lees was wearing was an "exact match" for him.

And despite the body never being discovered, there was a pool of blood on the side of the road, supporting Lees' testimony.

Colleen Gwynne, who is now the Northern Territory's Children's Commissioner, was the lead investigator on the case, painstakingly pieced together the evidence, with Murdoch arrested more than a year on from the murder.

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The scrub where Peter Falconio and Joanne Lees were assaulted, and was part of evidence presented to the jury during the Falconio murder trial October 31, 2005 in Darwin.
The scrub where Peter Falconio and Joanne Lees were assaulted, and was part of evidence presented to the jury during the Falconio murder trial October 31, 2005 in Darwin.

 

She has said that she believes Murdoch, who was also acquitted of rape in 2003, will take the secret to his grave.

The Northern Territory even brought in a "no body, no parole" law targeting Murdoch so that he will not be allowed out in 2032.

So far, he's given no signs that he will, leaving the Falconios in their own kind of purgatory on earth.

He's a killer whose blood still runs cold.

Originally published as Falconio killer's power behind bars



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