DNA evidence that helped convict a drug-runner of murdering Huddersfield backpacker Peter Falconio in the Australian Outback made a "very damning case", a court heard today.
Bradley Murdoch, 48, is appealing in the Northern Territory Court of Criminal Appeal in Darwin, Australia, against his conviction and sentence for shooting 28-year-old Mr Falconio five years ago.
His lawyers have argued that his trial in Darwin last year resulted in a "substantial miscarriage of justice", but today the Crown insisted he received a fair trial.
Murdoch is serving a life sentence with a minimum non-parole period of 28 years for murdering Mr Falconio, of Hepworth, on a remote stretch of highway near Barrow Creek, about 200 miles north of Alice Springs, on July 14, 2001.
The mechanic was also found guilty of abducting and assaulting Mr Falconio's girlfriend, Joanne Lees, a 33-year-old support worker originally from Almondbury.
Rex Wild QC, for the Crown, told the appeal today that Murdoch's defence team had not made any reference to the strong DNA evidence in the case.
He said: "It goes without saying that Mr Murdoch was entitled to a fair trial and it is the Crown's submission that he got a fair trial in all the proper senses."
Police found Murdoch's DNA in a bloodstain on Miss Lees' T-shirt, on the home-made handcuffs he used to tie her up, and on the gear stick of the young couple's camper van, the court heard.
Mr Wild said: "My learned friend makes much of the fact that this is a case about identification.
"The most compelling evidence about identification in this case is the DNA evidence, which has not been challenged in this appeal."
He told the court that the three pieces of DNA evidence were "crucial" to the Crown's case.
Mr Wild said: "One of those things by itself might not have been enough. Put together there was a very damning case."
Yesterday Ian Barker QC, counsel for Murdoch, argued the trial judge should have excluded Miss Lees' identification of Murdoch in a photograph line-up because she had already seen his picture on the internet.
Miss Lees again identified him in the dock at a committal hearing and at last year's trial.
Mr Barker told the court: "The trial resulted in a substantial miscarriage of justice because evidence was let in that should not have been admitted."
Murdoch's defence has also argued that his 28-year non-parole period is "manifestly excessive" because it meant he was likely to die in prison.
Mr Barker said: "The non-parole period of 28 years fixed by His Honour is very discordant with the non-parole period fixed in other cases."
But Mr Wild argued the 28-year non-parole period was determined "in respect of total criminality", including Murdoch's abduction and assault of Miss Lees.
The young British couple were travelling along the Stuart Highway heading north towards Darwin when Murdoch, of Broome, Western Australia, flagged down their orange camper van, last year's trial heard.
The mechanic shot Mr Falconio dead before threatening Miss Lees with a gun to her head and painfully tying her up with her hands behind her back, the court was told.
She told the trial of how she managed to escape and hide in the bush for more than five hours on the moonless night before being rescued.
But Mr Falconio was never seen again and his body has never been found.
Murdoch has always denied he was the killer and no motive for the attack has ever been established.
Neither Murdoch nor Miss Lees is at the appeal, which is expected to last until Friday.