The former police chief who led the Peter Falconio murder investigation believes his body may never be found, despite new laws encouraging the killer to say where it is.
On the 15th anniversary of the Huddersfield backpacker’s death in Australia, Colleen Gwynne, who was promoted to be in charge of the Alice Springs region during the investigation, said she thinks his body may never be recovered.
And she told ABC she knew drug runner Bradley Murdoch was the killer from the outset.
“There was never any doubt for me that Bradley Murdoch was guilty of this crime,” she said. “The challenge was to make sure we got a conviction.”
New legislation prevents murderers from receiving parole until they reveal a body’s location, but Ms Gwynne said: “Do I think he’ll disclose – no I don’t. He maintains he is innocent to this day and the arrogance of the man astounds me.”
Murdoch was convicted in 2005 of murdering 28-year-old Peter and assaulting his girlfriend Joanne Lees, formerly of Almondbury, at gunpoint on a remote stretch of highway near Barrow Creek, about 200 miles north of Alice Springs, on July 14, 2001.
Peter Falconio murder: A timeline
November 15, 2000
Peter Falconio leaves the UK for a round-the-world trip with his girlfriend Joanne Lees. They plan to visit Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, New Zealand, Fiji and the USA
January 16, 2001
The couple arrive in Australia and head to Sydney to work for money to fund the rest of their travels.
June 25, 2001
They leave Sydney for Canberra, Melbourne and South Australia in an orange camper van before travelling north.
July 14, 2001 - around 6pm
Joane drove the couple north from Alice Springs while Peter read in the back of the van. Later that day they stopped for fuel and shared a joint of cannabis as they watched the sun set. Peter then took over the driving, north on the Stuart highway.
July 14, 2001 - 7.30pm
Around 7.30pm a vehicle draws level with the camper van, indicating a problem with the exhaust of the couple’s van. Joanne is nervous about stopping in the outback but Peter pulls over, gets out and speaks to the other driver. He asks Joanne to rev the engine, then returns to the back of the van.
July 14, 2001 - 8pm
Joanne hears a bang and the man appears at the driver’s window of the van.
He threatens her with a gun to her head, ties her hands behind her back and forces her into the back of his vehicle.
She manages to escape while her attacker is outside and runs into the bush, hiding for more than five hours.
July 15, 2001, around 12.30am
A man is caught on CCTV at a Shell truck stop in Alice Springs.
July 15, 2001, around 1am
Joanne jumps out from the scrub and onto the highway, around 20 yards in front of a truck. Driver Vince Millar drives her to the Barrow Creek roadhouse where they call police.
The police come to care for Joanne and organise a series of roadblocks covering the main routes from Katherine to the South Australia border, to the Queensland to the West Australia border. No trace of Peter Falconio is ever found.
Bradley John Murdoch is charged with seven counts of abduction and rape.
October 17, 2015
Murdoch’s trial begins. He pleads not guilty to murdering Falconio and assaulting and attempting to kidnap Joanne Lees.
His DNA is found on Joanne's t-shirt.
December 13, 2005
Murdoch is convicted of Falconio’s murder and sentenced to life imprisonment with a non-parole term of 28-years. He is also convicted of assault-related charges regarding Joanne.
Murdoch has always protested his innocence, despite being convicted after a speck of his blood was discovered on Joanne’s T-shirt.
She is now thought to be living back in Huddersfield and working as a social worker.