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Joanne Lees

Joanne Lees

Overview
Joanne Rachael Lees is a British woman who is most notable for being the girlfriend of Peter Falconio
Peter Falconio
Peter Marco Falconio was a British tourist who disappeared in the Australian outback in July 2001, while travelling with girlfriend Joanne Lees and is nowpresumed dead....

 at the time of his murder on a remote stretch of highway near Barrow Creek
Barrow Creek, Northern Territory
Barrow Creek is a very small town, current population of 11, in the southern Northern Territory of Australia. It is located on the Stuart Highway, about 280 km north of Alice Springs, about half way from there to Tennant Creek. The main feature of the town is the roadhouse/hotel...

 in outback
Outback
The Outback is the vast, remote, arid area of Australia, term colloquially can refer to any lands outside the main urban areas. The term "the outback" is generally used to refer to locations that are comparatively more remote than those areas named "the bush".-Overview:The outback is home to a...

 Northern Territory
Northern Territory
The Northern Territory is a federal territory of Australia, occupying much of the centre of the mainland continent, as well as the central northern regions...

, Australia on 14 July 2001. Lees was the chief crown witness in the subsequent murder trial of Bradley John Murdoch
Bradley John Murdoch
Bradley John Murdoch is serving life imprisonment for the July 2001 murder of English backpacker Peter Falconio in Australia. He will be 74 when eligible for parole. Murdoch is being held in Alice Springs Correctional Centre in Alice Springs. He has lodged two appeals against his conviction; both...

 conducted in Darwin
Darwin, Northern Territory
Darwin is the capital city of the Northern Territory, Australia. Situated on the Timor Sea, Darwin has a population of 127,500, making it by far the largest and most populated city in the sparsely populated Northern Territory, but the least populous of all Australia's capital cities...

.

Lees first met Falconio in a nightclub in Huddersfield
Huddersfield
Huddersfield is a large market town within the Metropolitan Borough of Kirklees, in West Yorkshire, England, situated halfway between Leeds and Manchester. It lies north of London, and south of Bradford, the nearest city....

, Yorkshire, England in 1996 and began living with him the following year in Brighton, England where Falconio was studying at university.
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Encyclopedia
Joanne Rachael Lees is a British woman who is most notable for being the girlfriend of Peter Falconio
Peter Falconio
Peter Marco Falconio was a British tourist who disappeared in the Australian outback in July 2001, while travelling with girlfriend Joanne Lees and is nowpresumed dead....

 at the time of his murder on a remote stretch of highway near Barrow Creek
Barrow Creek, Northern Territory
Barrow Creek is a very small town, current population of 11, in the southern Northern Territory of Australia. It is located on the Stuart Highway, about 280 km north of Alice Springs, about half way from there to Tennant Creek. The main feature of the town is the roadhouse/hotel...

 in outback
Outback
The Outback is the vast, remote, arid area of Australia, term colloquially can refer to any lands outside the main urban areas. The term "the outback" is generally used to refer to locations that are comparatively more remote than those areas named "the bush".-Overview:The outback is home to a...

 Northern Territory
Northern Territory
The Northern Territory is a federal territory of Australia, occupying much of the centre of the mainland continent, as well as the central northern regions...

, Australia on 14 July 2001. Lees was the chief crown witness in the subsequent murder trial of Bradley John Murdoch
Bradley John Murdoch
Bradley John Murdoch is serving life imprisonment for the July 2001 murder of English backpacker Peter Falconio in Australia. He will be 74 when eligible for parole. Murdoch is being held in Alice Springs Correctional Centre in Alice Springs. He has lodged two appeals against his conviction; both...

 conducted in Darwin
Darwin, Northern Territory
Darwin is the capital city of the Northern Territory, Australia. Situated on the Timor Sea, Darwin has a population of 127,500, making it by far the largest and most populated city in the sparsely populated Northern Territory, but the least populous of all Australia's capital cities...

.

Lees first met Falconio in a nightclub in Huddersfield
Huddersfield
Huddersfield is a large market town within the Metropolitan Borough of Kirklees, in West Yorkshire, England, situated halfway between Leeds and Manchester. It lies north of London, and south of Bradford, the nearest city....

, Yorkshire, England in 1996 and began living with him the following year in Brighton, England where Falconio was studying at university. In 2000, the couple embarked on a trip to Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

 and Australia.

Disappearance of Peter Falconio


Lees and Falconio were travelling at night along the Stuart Highway near Barrow Creek (between Alice Springs and Tennant Creek) in the Northern Territory on 14 July 2001, when a man (later identified to be Bradley Murdoch) in another vehicle had flagged them down, claiming engine troubles with their Volkswagen Kombi van. After Falconio went to the rear of the vehicle with the man to investigate, Lees heard a shot fired. The man then threatened Lees with a gun, tied her up and covered her head, but she escaped while he was distracted (apparently moving the body). She hid for five hours in nearby bushes before running out onto the road and flagging down a truck driver who removed her cable ties and took her to safety.

Falconio's body has never been found,

Convicted


Bradley John Murdoch
Bradley John Murdoch
Bradley John Murdoch is serving life imprisonment for the July 2001 murder of English backpacker Peter Falconio in Australia. He will be 74 when eligible for parole. Murdoch is being held in Alice Springs Correctional Centre in Alice Springs. He has lodged two appeals against his conviction; both...

 Murdoch was found to have left Alice Springs at a time and in a direction that may have led to him being at or about Barrow Creek at the time of the murder. Expert testimony presented at the trial indicated that Murdoch was the man captured in the CCTV footage at the service station. Furthermore, the identikit drawings of the attacker and his vehicle bore a strong resemblance to Murdoch and his vehicle. Lees identified Murdoch from police photographs shown to Lees in November 2002 by NT Police and finally face-to-face during the trial on 18 October 2005. This, combined with the DNA match on Lees' t-shirt, formed the case for Murdoch being charged with the murder. DNA testing procedure and this DNA result greatly assisted in the conviction of Murdoch.
Murdoch was found guilty by a jury in a unanimous verdict. A susequent appeal was also quashed as was a final high court appeal. He is serving a 28 year sentence. Only after the sentencing was it revealed that Murdoch had previously been charged with aggravated sexual assault on a mother and daughter in South Australia some years earlier.

Strategy of the defence


Murdoch's defence argued during the trial that the DNA match on Lees' T-shirt could be due to accidental blood transfer in an Alice Springs Red Rooster
Red Rooster
Red Rooster is an Australian fast food restaurant chain. Red Rooster specialises in selling roasted chicken and other related products.- History :...

 restaurant prior to the alleged offence, or could have been simply planted by persons unknown. Further samples were found to be contaminated and were not presented as evidence. Murdoch had given evidence that he had stopped at that restaurant to buy chicken for himself and his dog: "Chicken roll, box of nuggets for Jack... full chicken for the trip". During the committal hearing, Lees at one stage mentioned that she and Falconio had stopped at Red Rooster. However, The Bulletin newspaper reported in April 2006 that Murdoch was allergic to chicken undermining his claims. Currently serving time in Darwin's Berrimah Jail, a maximum security prison, Murdoch has a "prison dietitian assigned to create a special menu" due to this allergy.

Media interviews


Lees also agreed to an interview with Martin Bashir
Martin Bashir
Martin Bashir is a British journalist and media personality, currently with NBC News as a contributor for its Dateline program, and an afternoon anchor for MSNBC, hosting Martin Bashir...

, which was later televised in Australia, for which she was paid £
Pound sterling
The pound sterling , commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence...

50,000. She later testified in court that she had agreed to this interview to raise awareness of the case in Australia, as she felt the public profile of the case had diminished.

A lengthy interview with Lees was aired on Andrew Denton's
Andrew Denton
Andrew Christopher Denton is an Australian television producer, comedian, Gold Logie-nominated television presenter and former radio host, and was the host of the ABC's weekly television interview program Enough Rope. He is known for his comedy and interviewing technique...

 show, Enough Rope
Enough Rope
Enough Rope with Andrew Denton is a television interview show originally broadcast on ABC Television in Australia...

on 9 October 2006.

On 9 October 2006, Lees was interviewed on the Today programme
Today programme
Today is BBC Radio 4's long-running early morning news and current affairs programme, now broadcast from 6.00 am to 9.00 am Monday to Friday, and 7.00 am to 9.00 am on Saturdays. It is also the most popular programme on Radio 4 and one of the BBC's most popular programmes across its radio networks...

 on BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...

 by John Humphrys
John Humphrys
Desmond John Humphrys , is a Welsh-born British author, journalist and presenter of radio and television, who has won many national broadcasting awards...

.

In July 2011, Lees was interviewed by Australia's Woman's Day (Australian magazine)
Woman's Day (Australian magazine)
Woman's Day is an Australian magazine published by ACP Magazines. It is the second largest magazine in Australia. The magazine recently underwent significant layoffs....

 in the leadup to the to the tenth anniversary of the murder of Peter Falconio, stating that she was still single and living a solitary life. Joanne has worked at a travel agency and as a social worker with disabled people. She has also studied sociology at Sheffield University.

Lees' book


Lees wrote No Turning Back, a book about her life, for which she reportedly received an advance of GBP 250,000. She went to the UK for the launch of the book in October 2006 and a serialisation appeared in The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

newspaper on 2 and 3 October.

On 10 October 2006, Lees was interviewed by BBC News 24
BBC News 24
BBC News is the BBC's 24-hour rolling news television network in the United Kingdom. The channel launched as BBC News 24 on 9 November 1997 at 17:30 as part of the BBC's foray into digital domestic television channels, becoming the first competitor to Sky News, which had been running since 1989...

.

Joanne Lees: Murder in The Outback


In March 2007, Channel Ten
Network Ten
Network Ten , is one of Australia's three major commercial television networks. Owned-and-operated stations can be found in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, while affiliates extend the network to cover most of the country...

 in Australia showed an account of what happened, covering the period from the night of the murder through to sentencing, from Lees' perspective. It was also shown by ITV1
ITV1
ITV1 is a generic brand that is used by twelve franchises of the British ITV Network in the English regions, Wales, southern Scotland , the Isle of Man and the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey. The ITV1 brand was introduced by Carlton and Granada in 2001, alongside the regional identities of their...

 in the UK on 8 April 2007, by TV1 in New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

on 10 June 2007 and by RTL 2 in Germany on 12 January 2009.

External links