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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 December 2005, 15:42 GMT
Murdoch guilty of Falconio murder
Joanne Lees and Peter Falconio in their camper van
Peter Falconio's body has never been found
Australian mechanic Bradley Murdoch has been jailed for life for the murder of British backpacker Peter Falconio.

The jury in Darwin also convicted Murdoch, 47, of Broome, Western Australia, of abducting and assaulting Mr Falconio's girlfriend Joanne Lees.

Murdoch had denied killing Mr Falconio, 28, of Hepworth, Huddersfield, on an outback highway north of Alice Springs in July 2001. His body was never found.

Murdoch's lawyer, Grant Algie, said his client would be launching an appeal.

The jury had heard how, on 14 July 2001, Murdoch flagged the couple down in their orange camper van, shooting Mr Falconio and threatening Miss Lees by pointing a gun to her head before tying her up.

The past four years have been very traumatic for myself and for the Falconio family
Joanne Lees

At a news conference after the verdict, standing side by side with Mr Falconio's parents and brothers, Miss Lees, 32, said: "I would like Bradley John Murdoch to seriously consider telling me, Joan and Luciano [Mr Falconio's parents], what he has done with Pete."

This would enable her and the family "to take another step in the grieving process for Pete", she added.

"I'm obviously delighted with the unanimous verdict here today.

"The past four years have been very traumatic for myself and for the Falconio family."


Mr Falconio's father Luciano, of Holmfirth, Huddersfield, said he was "very, very happy indeed" with the verdict.

The absence of a body is not a bar to a guilty verdict of murder
Judge Brian Martin

"We wish that we could find Peter - we don't get any closure until we find Peter," he added.

"We know it's extremely difficult, as you know, with the Northern Territory what it is."

Mr Falconio's mother Joan said she would be making a "victim impact statement" in court on Thursday - when Murdoch will told the minimum time he will have to serve - when she would "say everything to everybody".


A total of 85 witnesses were called during the trial at the Northern Territory Supreme Court, including Miss Lees and Murdoch.

Bradley Murdoch
Murdoch consistently denied responsibility for the killing

During her evidence, Miss Lees, from Brighton, told how she managed to escape and hide in the bush for five hours before being rescued on the Stuart Highway north of Alice Springs.

As the jury delivered its verdict, she burst into tears and slumped into the arms of Mr Falconio's brother Paul.

Mr Falconio's family had flown out to watch much of the trial in the courtroom, often breaking down in tears while listening to graphic evidence.

Joan and Luciano Falconio held hands and turned around to shake hands with their sons Paul and Nick when the jury delivered its verdict.

In his evidence, Murdoch admitted he was a drug smuggler who transported "large quantities" of cannabis through central Australia.

He also admitted to carrying firearms, but he was adamant that he was not a killer.

The jury disagreed, taking less than one day's deliberation to find him guilty.

Critical question

Sentencing Murdoch, Judge Brian Martin told him: "There is only one judgment that is practised by the law in the Northern Territory and that is imprisonment for life."

The mechanic showed no reaction.

Earlier, the jury were told that the absence of Mr Falconio's body did not prevent a guilty verdict after Judge Martin was asked to clarify the point.

He told the jury: "The absence of a body is not a bar to a guilty verdict of murder."

He said the critical question was whether the Crown had proved that Mr Falconio was killed and whether Mr Murdoch had killed him.

How the jury reached their decision


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