[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Monday, 24 October 2005, 11:40 GMT 12:40 UK
Falconio 'seen' at roadside cafe
Joanne Lees and Peter Falconio in their camper van
The couple were allegedly attacked by another motorist
Missing UK backpacker Peter Falconio and girlfriend Joanne Lees were seen at a roadside cafe hours before he was allegedly killed, a court has heard.

The evidence from the owner of the Aileron Roadhouse in the Australian Outback came after Miss Lees told a jury they had not stopped at the site.

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

They were allegedly attacked after being flagged down by another motorist.

Meanwhile, the trial judge has called for a retraction and apology after a media report said the main prosecutor had referred to him by his first name.

Italian accent

Aileron owner Gregory Dick said the couple came into his cafe and garage north of Alice Springs for a meal at 1545-1600 local time - about four hours before the couple were allegedly attacked.

He told Northern Territory Supreme Court they had been looking through a series of brochures and were discussing places to visit.

"I would say it was definitely them otherwise they had a good set of twins in Australia," said Mr Dick.

Mr Dick, who was shown photographs of the couple by police after the alleged attack on a road between Alice Springs and Darwin, said the man he saw had an Italian or Greek accent.

Referring to the woman who was with him, he said: "She was very neat, tidy, fairly long hair. I would say she was, as we'd call them, a Pom."

The prosecution alleges Mr Murdoch shot Mr Falconio, from Huddersfield, at about 2000 local time on 14 July 2001.

He is then said to have threatened Miss Lees, originally from Brighton, and tied her up with her hands behind her back.

The manager of the Aileron, Michael Oatley, said he was "90% sure" the couple who had stopped there were Mr Falconio and Miss Lees.

He said the man spoke with an accent but could not say what type it was.

Former Aileron worker Ann-Marie Floyd also told the court she had seen the couple that afternoon.

'Unfair' reflection

The judge, Chief Justice Brian Martin, has taken issue with an article about the proceedings written by British journalist Andrew Clark.

The story has appeared on the websites of the Guardian, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age.

It reported the Director of Public Prosecutors, Rex Wild QC, had referred to the judge as "Brian", rather than "your honour" during legal submissions.

Chief Justice Martin said: "It not only reflected unfairly and inaccurately on Mr Wild, it also reflected on me, the court, and the system of criminal justice in the Territory."

The judge described as "nonsense" the article's claim that Darwin "is pulling out all the stops" for the trial.

Mr Clark was not present in court.

"Where is Mr Clark?" the judge said.

"He's scarpered, has he? Given that he portrayed Darwin as something of a hick town, how did he get out?

"By horse and carriage? I'm surprised that anyone who knew what he had written in Darwin would give him a horse to get out."


SEE ALSO:
Timeline: Falconio murder trial
21 Oct 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Lees found 'distraught' in road
21 Oct 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Lees demonstrates Outback escape
20 Oct 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Lees identifies Falconio 'killer'
18 Oct 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Lees tells of dramatic escape
18 Oct 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Falconio lawyer cites DNA links
17 Oct 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Lees negotiates first court test
17 Oct 05 |  Asia-Pacific


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific