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Last Updated: Monday, 9 October 2006, 08:33 GMT 09:33 UK
Lees attacks 'sensational' media
Joanne Lees
Joanne Lees says she did not get enough support after her ordeal

The girlfriend of a British backpacker murdered in the Australian outback has hit out at her treatment in the media in the wake of the killing.

Joanne Lees was abducted at gunpoint by Bradley Murdoch who was found guilty of murdering her boyfriend Peter Falconio, from Huddersfield, West Yorks, in 2001.

Miss Lees, 32, who lives in Brighton, faced constant smears and suspicion until Murdoch was convicted last year.

In a BBC interview, she accused the media of sensationalising the case.

Miss Lees has written a book about the murder and the subsequent trial which she said was an attempt to "take back my life from the storytellers".

There is no rule book, there is no dress code, as far as I am aware, of how a victim should act and behave
Joanne Lees

In an interview with John Humphrys on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, she said: "During the early days of the investigation I didn't give any interviews or press conferences.

"In the meantime the journalism editors wanted a story so, because I hadn't given them one, they decided to create one of their own.

"Sadly some of the media prefer a murder mystery than the fact that it was just a tragedy."

Asked whether she regretted the way she behaved at the time, she said: "I was a victim of a violent crime, I was dealing with my own emotions, the loss of Pete, what could have happened to me, I was almost raped and murdered. I was just being myself.

"When you're a victim, you don't get handed a rulebook or a manual on how to handle the media or the press.

The remote outback road near Alice Springs where the murder took place
Peter Falconio was killed in one of the most desolate parts of Australia

"What is a victim supposed to look like? There is no rule book, there is no dress code, as far as I am aware, of how a victim should act and behave.

"I was in a foreign country, 12,000 miles from home without friends and family. I was not receiving the appropriate support."

Asked why there were alleged discrepancies in her accounts of the abduction, she said: "There weren't any discrepancies at all.

"I mean it was reported in the media but they were going for the sensationalised headlines.

"I am still astonished by the media's fascination with me and the public's curiosity.

"I was just a normal girl who was travelling around the world with her boyfriend and I was just thrust into this nightmare situation."

Mr Falconio, 28, was killed on a remote stretch of highway near Barrow Creek, about 200 miles north of Alice Springs in 2001.

Drug runner Murdoch shot him dead before threatening Miss Lees with a gun and tying her up.

She escaped and hid in the bush for more than five hours before being rescued. Mr Falconio's body has never been found.

Date for Falconio killer's appeal
28 Jun 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Lees tribute to Falconio officer
14 Apr 06 |  England
Joanne Lees to write Outback book
25 Jan 06 |  Southern Counties

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