THE Australian mechanic sentenced for killing backpacker Peter Falconio will be 73 before he is eligible for parole.
A judge who handed down the 28 year sentence today acknowledged that Bradley John Murdoch will probably die in prison.
As Chief Justice Brian Martin made his ruling, he criticised the defence for "casting a shadow" over the character of Mr Falconio's girlfriend Joanne Lees.
The judge said: "At trial, in the face of a powerful Crown case, you endeavoured to darken that shadow in suggesting to the jury that not only was Miss Lees an unreliable witness, but she was not telling the truth about the disappearance of Mr Falconio.
"You pursued the idea that Mr Falconio was still alive and the conduct of your defence was such that it conveyed the clear innuendo that Miss Lees was implicated in Mr Falconio's disappearance.
"By their verdicts the jury rejected those assertions. I too reject those suggestions."
Murdoch received a mandatory life sentence earlier this week after a jury found him guilty of murdering Hepworth man Mr Falconio in the Australian outback four years ago.
Chief Justice Martin ordered today that Murdoch, 47, must serve at least 28 years before he is even eligible for parole.