Brit backpacker’s body ‘in remote Australian outback well’, local claims

A Brit backpacker who was murdered in the Australian outback could have been dumped in a remote well, a local has claimed.

Peter Falconio, 30, and his girlfriend Joanne Lees, 29, were attacked by a driver on the side of a road in the country’s Northern Territories in July 2001.

The couple, from Hepsworth, West Yorkshire, had been driving on the highway to Darwin, but pulled over after being flagged down by another driver.

Bradley Murdoch, then 43, shot Peter dead while Joanne was able to escape by flagging down a truck after hiding in the bush for five hours.

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Peter’s body, the gun used and Joanne’s jacket were never found but Murdoch was identified as the driver of a Toyota Land Cruiser in CCTV footage released by police in 2003.

Now, local landowner Charlie Frith claims police did not fully search his million-acre site that is just a mile from where Peter and Joanne were ambushed.

Mr Frith said Peter’s body could have been dumped in a well but the land was flooded when police came to search it, reports the Mirror.

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Mr Frith said: “They half went down it. I don’t know if they didn’t have the right gear, but they didn’t get to the bottom.

“Nobody’s ever been back. There’s now a windmill on top of the well but it wouldn’t be too hard to search with the right equipment.

"The well is about a metre round – it makes sense the body could be dumped there. You’d think it would be fully investigated to at least rule it out.”

Politician Frank Pangallo, who looked into the case as a journalist, has previously said officers did not fully probe a sighting of a van near the remote well.

A local man is said to have told police he saw a white van with a black canopy – like Murdoch’s – near the well on the night.

Mr Pangallo, now an Australian MP, visited the site twice with a TV crew in 2011 but it was flooded.

He says a forensic anthropologist believed it was the "perfect place to dump a body".

Colleen Gwynne, the lead investigator on the case, has told the Mirror the well has already been searched.

And John Daulby, 68, the assistant police commissioner during the original case, said it would be “strange and remarkable” if the van lead was not probed.

He said Murdoch, who is serving a life sentence for the murder but has always denied his involvement, will never say where the body is.

He added: “He has no compassion whatsoever. I’d like to see the whole thing resolved. It’s still open-ended.”

Northern Territory Police said: “We’ve commenced an assessment of information records with focus on names and location which have been provided.”

A Channel 4 series reinvestigating the notorious case is due to air later this year.

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