Documentary series Murder in the Outback: The Falconio and Lees Mystery, which has aired on Channel 4 every night since Sunday, is picking apart the details of the true story of Peter Falconio‘s disappearance in 2001 and uncovering startling new evidence in a case that gripped the world.
Falconio was travelling through the Australian outback with his girlfriend, Joanne Lees, when, according to Lees, a driver stopped them as if to suggest there was a problem with their vehicle. Lees says the man shot Falconio while the pair inspected the car’s exhaust, and tried to tie her up, but she escaped.
We already heard doubt cast upon Bradley John Murdoch’s conviction for murdering Falconio and now there is even a suggestion the Yorkshire traveller could still be alive.
Peter Falconio sighting
Then we learned two witnesses claim to have seen Falconio days after his appearance. Robert Brown and Melissa Kendall believe the backpacker is still alive after seeing him in Bourke, a remote town in New South Wales, 2,000km from where he went missing.
“I’m 200 percent sure it was Peter Falconio,” said Brown in the documentary. “I will undergo any lie detector test, anything anybody wants me to. I was a metre away from him.”
Walking the cameras through what happened he said: “I was reading the race results in the paper and I heard the door squeak, and Melissa was on the other side and she’s yelling out to me.
“She yelled at me again and then the next minute she turned the paper over and on the front page there was a picture of a gentleman down in the bottom right-hand corner and she tapped it.
“I put the paper down and walked around the corner and then bang I am looking straight at this bloke I saw in the paper. I was sort of in shock.”
He then added: “I didn’t go to the police straight away because it was none of my business.
Melissa said: “I personally believe he is alive, where he is I don’t know.” She also explained that the police found out about the ‘sighting’ when an officer overheard her talking to a colleague in her former workplace.
The life insurance theory
The documentary also revealed that one of Falconio’s colleagues had come forward to the Australian authorities anonymously, to suggest that he may have faked his own death.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Peter Falconio is capable of carrying out the scam,” said the unnamed friend. “I would not be in the least bit surprised if he attempted to defraud a life insurance policy just for the money. Before he went away he told me he had taken out a policy.”
In the statement, he describes himself as a friend of Peter’s and says he was called ‘dodgy Peter’ because “he was always scamming”.
Falconio’s body has never been found, leaving some people believing there could be truth to the theory he is still alive.
Former defence lawyer Andrew Fraser explained the ‘friend’ and colleague said Peter joked about people trying to scam the company he worked for. The Australian police have discounted the theory that Peter faked his own death.
A former journalist who covered the case said: “There’s no way a son could have faked his own death and maintained his absence for so long knowing that his family were so upset.
“That proves to me that the insurance scam allegation was perhaps unfounded.”
Murdoch remains in prison for Peter’s murder and the assault on Joanne Lees in 2005. He plead not guilty and maintains he is innocent.
Peter’s body is still missing, with the prosecution relying on a small bit of DNA on Joanne Lees’ t-shirt that matched Murdoch’s.
Murdoch was diagnosed with cancer last year promoting the police to attempt to get a confession finally in exchange for moving him to a prison closer to his family.
Murdoch can apply for parole from 2033 but if he doesn’t reveal the location of Peter’s body his application will be denied.
Murder in the Outback: The Falconio and Lees Mystery concludes tonight at 9pm on Channel 4. To find out what else is on tonight, check out our TV Guide.