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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 November 2005, 09:09 GMT
Falconio suspect 'made gun offer'
Joanne Lees and Peter Falconio in their camper van
The body of Mr Falconio has never been found
The man accused of shooting to death Briton Peter Falconio in the Australian outback tried to sell a woman a gun a month beforehand, a court has heard.

Julie McPhail told the Darwin court Bradley Murdoch, 47, fired a small silver gun into bushes by a remote road in South Australia in June 2001.

She said the defendant then offered to let her fire or buy the gun.

Mr Murdoch denies murder and abducting Mr Falconio's girlfriend, Joanne Lees, near Alice Springs on 14 July 2001.

Ms McPhail told the Northern Territory Supreme Court she had met Mr Murdoch at a remote petrol station as she drove from Perth in Western Australia to Adelaide in South Australia.

'Shared drugs'

She said she had thanked him for earlier overtaking her and "lighting up the road" and they agreed to travel together in their separate vehicles.

They made regular stops during which Mr Murdoch would share cannabis and speed, which helped them "get through such a big drive quickly", Ms McPhail said.

He later demonstrated the gun to her, she said.

Ms McPhail said: "He pulled out a gun and offered me a shot and said that I could buy it if I wanted it.

"I didn't feel comfortable with it so I hopped back in my car and kept going."

The court has already heard claims Mr Murdoch carried a gun and ran drugs across Australia.

Ms Lees, 32, of Brighton, has told the court she and Mr Falconio were flagged down by Mr Murdoch while they were driving across the outback near Alice Springs.

He is then alleged to have shot the backpacker and bundled his girlfriend into the back of his van, binding her in makeshift handcuffs.

Ms Lees said she later escaped and hid in the undergrowth for five hours until her abductor gave up searching for her and left.

The body of Mr Falconio, from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, has never been found.

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