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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 January 2007, 00:26 GMT
Falconio killer freedom bid fails
Bradley Murdoch
Bradley Murdoch was told he must serve 28 years in jail
The killer of British backpacker Peter Falconio has failed in a bid to have his conviction overturned in Australia.

Lawyers for Bradley Murdoch, 48, told Darwin's appeal court there had been a "substantial miscarriage of justice".

Murdoch is serving a life term for shooting Mr Falconio, 28, of Hepworth, near Huddersfield, West Yorks, on a remote Australian outback road in 2001.

The prosecution said he had killed Mr Falconio and kidnapped girlfriend Joanne Lees, 33, who later escaped.

Body never found

He was also convicted of abducting and assaulting Ms Lees, who was found in the desert by a truck driver.

The BBC's correspondent Phil Mercer in Sydney said appeals against both the verdict and Murdoch's 28-year sentence had been rejected.

The body of Mr Falconio has never been found.

Judges at the Northern Territory Court of Criminal Appeal listened to three days of legal submissions last December.

Ian Barker, QC for Murdoch, asked the judges to call for a retrial if they upheld any one of the grounds of appeal.

He argued that the trial judge should have excluded Miss Leeds's identification of Murdoch in a photograph line-up because she had already seen his picture on the internet.

The Crown argued that the evidence was not vital in the light of the "very damning" DNA evidence against him.

'Pseudo-science'

The court heard how Murdoch's DNA was found in a blood stain on Miss Lees' T-shirt, on the home-made handcuffs he used to tie her up, and on the gear stick of the couple's camper van.

Murdoch's lawyers disputed the testimony given by an expert in "face and body mapping", saying it was an untested "pseudo-science".

They also claimed a minimum non-parole period of 28 years was "manifestly excessive" as it would mean Murdoch is likely to die in prison.

Murdoch can now apply for special leave to appeal to the High Court of Australia.

He has always denied he was the killer and no motive for the attack has ever been established.

After his trial last year, Murdoch was told he must serve at least 28 years for the murder of Mr Falconio on a stretch of highway near Barrow Creek - about 200 miles north of Alice Springs.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
The case against Bradley Murdoch



SEE ALSO
Questions over Falconio evidence
12 Dec 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Lees identifies Falconio 'killer'
18 Oct 05 |  Asia-Pacific

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