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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 October 2005, 12:13 GMT 13:13 UK
Lees 'positive' she picked killer
Joanne Lees and Peter Falconio in their camper van
Miss Lees said she tried to raise the profile of the case
The girlfriend of missing UK backpacker Peter Falconio has told a court in Australia she is "very positive" about having correctly identified his killer.

Bradley Murdoch, 47, denies murdering Mr Falconio, 28, and attacking and abducting Joanne Lees in July 2001.

The jury saw a video interview at Hove police station on 18 November 2002, in which she picked a passport-style image of Mr Murdoch from a choice of 12.

Miss Lees, 32, of Brighton, told officers: "I think it's number 10."

Asked to clarify her comment, she told the judge, Chief Justice Brian Martin: "I was very positive".

She said Australian police had shown her a CCTV image the day after the attack of a man at an Alice Springs truck stop but that at the time she had told them he was "too old" to be her attacker.

She had since changed her mind because "the police were able to show me a better quality picture", she added.

I felt pressure to get some photo out there to the public so people could be looking for this person
Joanne Lees

She said a photo of the man suspected of being her attacker on the BBC News website 10 October 2002 was "clearer" than the one she had seen previously.

"I didn't really study the photograph of the man for long - I just knew that it was him," she told the court.

She said she had been interviewed by police in Alice Springs the day after the attack and had worked through the night of 15 July trying to produce a "comfit" image of her attacker.

She was not happy with the hair on the picture which was "not quite right", she said.

"I felt pressure to get some photo out there to the public so people could be looking for this person," she added.

Any smell from the barrel of the gun, like gunpowder?
Grant Algie
defence lawyer

The court has heard how Miss Lees and Mr Falconio, from Huddersfield, were travelling in their camper van from Alice Springs to Darwin when they were asked to pull over by a man in a four-wheel drive vehicle.

Mr Falconio got out of the van and began talking to him, then there was a sound like a gunshot and the man appeared at her window holding a gun, Miss Lees has said.

'No gunpowder smell'

Grant Algie, representing Mr Murdoch, asked Miss Lees if she had felt any heat from the gun when it was put to her head.

"No," she replied.

"Any smell from the barrel of the gun, like gunpowder?" Mr Algie asked.

"No, I didn't smell anything," she replied.

Miss Lees has told the Darwin court her attacker took her out of the camper van and put her into his vehicle.

She said she did not know exactly how he did this, saying: "I wasn't in control."

I was just looking at his face, into his eyes and at his gun
Joanne Lees

She added that the man removed her glasses, which she said she did not see again until they were returned to her at a committal hearing in May 2004.

During cross-examination, she said while Mr Falconio and the man were examining the rear of the camper van, she heard a noise like a vehicle backfiring or a gunshot and then, she said: "I just remember looking straight ahead of me at first, thinking, 'Oh my God, what's happened to my vehicle? Is it something I've done to cause that?' and then I look and he's there, at the side of me.

"After that I was just looking at his face, into his eyes and at his gun."

When asked why she did not look for Mr Falconio while she was being taken from vehicle to the other, she replied: "Because the man had his hand on my neck. He was slightly behind me but turning his body and I was just looking where he was leading me."

Mr Algie asked: "Why didn't you glance to see if he was OK?"

"I was concerned for my own life," Miss Lees replied.

She said she did not recall thinking about her boyfriend at that point.

But when the judge asked how she felt when she was hiding in the bush after escaping her attacker, she fought back tears as she said: "I was frightened. I was... concerned about Pete, thinking he's so close but I couldn't leave my hiding place to get to be with him."

Mr Wild also asked why, in March 2002, Miss Lees had agreed to be interviewed by journalist Martin Bashir, for which she was paid 50,000.

She said she had been told it would be shown in Australia with an appeal for viewers to call with information.

Miss Lees said she had turned down "hundreds" of other offers for interviews for fear they might prejudice the case.

The trial was adjourned until Thursday, when Miss Lees will be cross-examined as she gives evidence for a fourth day.

Joanne Lees arrives at court to be cross-examined

Lees identifies Falconio 'killer'
18 Oct 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Lees tells of dramatic escape
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17 Oct 05 |  Asia-Pacific

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