THE man jailed for killing Huddersfield backpacker Peter Falconio has insisted he is innocent.
And in a dramatic and controversial TV interview from inside an Australian jail, Bradley Murdoch insists the former Hepworth man could still be alive.
Mechanic Murdoch – who is serving 28 years for the 2001 murder of Mr Falconio – says he knows nothing of the murder.
He claimed he had been involved in violence and in drug-running but was not involved in any murder.
Prison authorities in Australia are now investigating how the interview came to be broadcast.
Ten years after the horrific case, Mr Falconio’s body has never been found.
He and his girlfriend, Joanne Lees, of Huddersfield, were touring Australia when they were ambushed on the remote Stuart Highway in the Northern Territory in their camper van.
Miss Lees managed to escape, hiding in the bush for several hours before flagging down a truck, but it is feared Mr Falconio, 28, was shot dead and his body taken away.
Miss Lees later returned to live in Huddersfield and study at university in Sheffield.
Bradley John Murdoch was sentenced to life with a non-parole period of 28 years.
Channel Seven’s Sunday Night programme in Australia has now broadcast audio from inside the Alice Springs jail of Murdoch.
Interviewing prisoners is against the law in the Northern Territory, but the programme broadcast a conversation between Murdoch and lawyer Andrew Fraser in which Murdoch says he believes Mr Falconio is still alive.
The Prisons Department says it is investigating the matter and will also be looking at the implications for Murdoch’s future contact with Mr Fraser.
Murdoch, 53, was convicted after his DNA was found at the crime scene on a remote part of the Stuart Highway, in the Northern Territory.
On TV the killer made a number of outlandish claims in a phone call recorded for a current affairs TV programme.
Murdoch said Falconio was still alive.
He also said he thinks Joanne Lees “had something to do with it” and offered an alternative theory that Mr Falconio “faked his own death and disappeared”.
“I might be a bit rough around the edges and all that sort of thing, but, you know, I’m a pretty straight up sort of person.
“I’ve got a heart – I’m a little bit of a gentle giant at times,” Murdoch said in a rambling tirade.
“I might have knocked a few people around with me knuckles and that sort of thing, but, nah, I never had anything to do with it.”
Mr Fraser claimed to have proof that Falconio is still alive.
However, he admitted that he has not spoken to any of the four people he claimed have come forward to say they had seen Falconio since the shooting.
He said: “One hundred per cent, I say Falconio’s alive, so what’s the significance of the DNA? It is irrelevant. Everything about this case is odd.”
While most media interviews with prisoners are illegal in the Northern Territory, Channel 7’s journalist Rahni Sadler was also present during the conversation but the network said Sadler had not asked any questions or broken the law.
A spokesman for the Alice Springs Correctional Centre said media were “not allowed to contact prisoners.”
The spokesman said using a lawyer to call the prisoner was also “not an appropriate way to gain information.”
Mr Falconio’s body has never been found. In the interview Murdoch admitted he was running drugs and had no motive to kill Falconio.
“Well I know myself that I didn’t do it,” Murdoch said.
“I was running around doing some, you know, running a bit of pot here and there and I did it pretty well, I was good at it. So why would I go and jeopardise all that?”