Asia

Bradley Murdoch in new appeal over Peter Falconio killing

Bradley Murdoch with police at Darwin airport on 24 November 2003
Image caption Bradley Murdoch has always maintained his innocence

A man convicted of murdering British backpacker Peter Falconio in the Australian outback in 2001 has launched a second appeal.

Bradley Murdoch, who is serving a 28-year sentence, is alleging misconduct by the prosecution at his 2005 trial.

His lawyers say the chief prosecutor unfairly influenced evidence given by Mr Falconio's girlfriend Joanne Lees.

Ms Lees survived the attack on a remote desert highway north of Alice Springs in July 2001.

The body of 28-year-old Peter Falconio, from Huddersfield, has never been found.

Bradley Murdoch has always maintained his innocence. His conviction was largely based on the testimony of Ms Lees and on DNA evidence.

No date has yet been set for the appeal hearing, the BBC's Phil Mercer reports from Sydney.

'Questionable'

During the 2005 trial in Darwin, Ms Lees described how she and Mr Falconio were travelling in their camper van when they were asked to pull over by the driver of a four-wheel drive vehicle.

Image caption Joanne Lees and Peter Falconio were driving between Alice Springs and Darwin when they were attacked

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

She said she was tied up and put in the man's vehicle, but was later able to escape and hid under a bush until she could attract the attention of a passing vehicle.

In court, she identified Bradley Murdoch as the attacker.

Murdoch, 55, lost his first appeal against his conviction in 2007.

He launched a second appeal with the Northern Territory criminal court of appeal on Tuesday.

"This is an allegation that the crown prosecutor at the original trial, Rex Wild QC, improperly groomed the star crown witness Joanne Lees in how to give her evidence," Murdoch's barrister Peter Faris QC said.

"This allegation brings into question the entirety of Lees' evidence."

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