THE TRIAL of the Australian mechanic charged with murdering Peter Falconio has been put on hold just two weeks before it was due to start.
The judge, Chief Justice Brian Martin, said he would be stopping the trial in its tracks to give more time for both sides to investigate "evidentiary matters".
Further details of the fresh investigations were not immediately available.
The trial, to be held at Darwin Supreme Court, could now start as late as October.
Australian mechanic Bradley John Murdoch is charged with the murder of Peter Falconio, from Hepworth, in 2001.
Murdoch is suspected of shooting Falconio after flagging down the camper van the British backpacker was travelling in with girlfriend Joanne Lees on July 14.
Prosecutors say Murdoch also punched Lees, from Almondbury, and bundled her into his pick-up truck, but she managed to escape.
Mr Falconio's body has never been found despite a police search covering an area of the Outback the size of France.
Murdoch has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.
The judge said: "It is sufficient to observe that the trial cannot proceed until the investigations by both the Crown and the accused are completed."
Mr Martin said he hoped to set a trial date at a hearing on May 20.
"A number of dates are under consideration and it may be that the trial will not take place until later in the year, in October," he said.
The change of date is expected to cause problems to many of the 78 witnesses, including members of the Falconio family and Lees due to testify at the trial.
It is believed the halting of the trial could cost the Australian Department of Justice tens of thousands of pounds in lost fees for hotels and travel expenses.
The stepfather of Joanne Lees, Vincent James from Almondbury, said he was disappointed at the delay, and he added: "We were ready for the trial now we have to wait again. My life and Joanne's life, and the whole family's life, is on hold until the end of this trial."