Murdered British backpacker Peter Falconio’s body could be at the bottom of a well that police ‘failed to search properly because it was flooded’, Australian farmer claims
- Peter Falconio was attacked on a highway in Northern Australia back in 2001
- Bradley Murdoch was convicted of murder despite his body never being found
- Farmer Charlie Frith believes Mr Falconio’s remains could be at the bottom of a well on his land that police did not search fully at the time because it was flooded
- He has urged investigators to come back and inspect the well a second time
Police in Australia have been urged to re-examine a remote well in the hopes that the remains of murdered British backpacker Peter Falconio might be hidden there.
Limestone well, on the million-acre Neutral Junction station in Australia’s Northern Territory, was examined by officers searching for Falconio’s body after he was ambushed on a nearby highway by gunman Bradley John Murdoch in 2001.
But now farm owner Charlie Frith has suggested that officers did not inspect the well fully because it was flooded and has asked them to come back and look again.
Peter Falconio (left) was ambushed by a gunman as he drove across Australia with girlfriend Joanne Lees (right) in 2001. It is thought he was murdered, despite his body never being found
A farmer who owns land close to where Mr Falconio (right) was ambushed has urged police to come back an re-examine a well where he believes the remains could be hidden
Mr Frith told the Mirror that officers would have been unable to get to the bottom of the well without specialist equipment, and may have missed an opportunity to wrap up the mystery of what happened to Mr Falconio’s body.
He said there are times of the year when water in the well is lower, and that it would be ‘relatively easy’ to reach the bottom at these times.
‘I think it would be good for the Falconio family to clear all possibilities up,’ he said.
Mr Frith explained that while the well is located in a remote area, there is a road that connects it with the Stewart Highway where Mr Falconio was attacked along with girlfriend Joanne Lees on 14 July 2001.
He admits he did not own the land where the well is located at the time the police search took place, but says he has been told the search was not fully completed.
Frank Pangallo (left), a journalist-turned-politician, has previously accused police of failing to follow up on a tip that a van similar to killer Bradley Murdoch’s was seen near the same well on the night of the murder
He is not alone in thinking that limestone well could contain Mr Falconio’s remains.
Frank Pangallo, a politician who reported on the murder as a journalist, believes the police also failed to properly examine claims from a local who saw a van matching Murdoch’s near the well on the night of the attack.
In 2011 he twice visited the well in order to try and search it, but on both occasions found that it was flooded and could not get to the bottom.
As part of a new four-part Channel 4 documentary into the killing, Mr Pangallo will also insist that police properly inspect the well.
Colleen Gwynne, the lead investigator on the case, insisted to the Mirror that the well was properly searched.
Mr Falconio and Ms Lees, both 28 at the time and from Huddersfield, were driving along Stewart Highway in an orange VW camper van on the evening of July 14 when they were flagged down by another driver.
Farmer Charlie Frith believes police were unable to properly search the well because it was flooded at the time, meaning they could not reach the bottom
Ms Lees was dragged from the VW camper van (pictured) she was sharing with Falconio after he was shot. She was tied up by the killer but was able to escape and survived
Ms Lees said the man lured Mr Falconio to the back of the vehicle by saying that sparks had been coming out of the exhaust, before she heard a gunshot.
She said the man then tied her up and dragged her to his Toyota four-wheel drive, but she managed to escape into the bush while he was distracted.
Ms Lees spent five hours hiding from the man as he searched for her, before eventually flagging down a passing trucker who took her to safety.
Murdoch was identified as a suspect early on in the investigation but police did not begin to seriously link him to the crime until a 2002 arrest for rape and kidnap which he was later acquitted of.
Investigators arrested Murdoch for Falconio’s murder in 2003 and put him on trial in 2005, despite the murder weapon and his body never being found.
He was convicted in December that year largely based on DNA evidence and sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 28 years before he can be considered for parole.
Murdoch insists that he is innocent, and has launched a series of appeals.