AN AGEING camper van that provided key evidence in the trial of the man convicted of murdering Huddersfield backpacker Peter Falconio is to be released by Australian police after seven years.
The orange Volkswagen Kombi, held as a court exhibit, was ambushed on an Outback highway on July 14, 2001, by a gunman who shot dead Mr Falconio, 28, from Hepworth, and attempted to abduct his girlfriend, Joanne Lees.
The van was found the next day hidden in roadside bushes near the murder scene.
Self-confessed drug courier Bradley Murdoch was convicted in 2006 of the murder and attempted abduction.
Last year Murdoch lost his final appeal against his conviction and life prison sentence. DNA found on the van’s gear stick proved crucial to the prosecution case.
But the killer has now launched a new appeal, after doubts were cast on the use of the controversial DNA low copy technique.
Police said the van was shifted to the Darwin police compound yesterday from the Northern Territory Supreme Court basement where it has been held as evidence.
“The vehicle will remain in the compound until advice is received from the rightful owners of their intentions,” police said in a statement today.
Police spokeswoman Amy Sloan could not say whether the legal owner was Miss Lees or the Falconio family.
The murder and the massive police manhunt that followed attracted sustained international media attention.
Mr Falconio had bought the mechanically-troubled van from a Sydney used car yard.
It is not in running order after years in storage.