Was Joanne Lees’ hair tie a smoking gun?

Andrew L. Urban.

In the wake of our July 21, 2020 story covering the CJZ produced Channel 7 documentary mini series, Murder in the Outback, in which Bradley Murdoch’s conviction for the murder of Peter Falconio was examined, several readers commented on the fact that the series didn’t mention the hair tie found on Murdoch’s holster – which some see as compelling evidence against Murdoch. It allegedly belonged to Falconio’s girlfriend, Joanne Lees. Murdoch had it in his possession … gotcha! Not quite. 

The hair tie which was supposedly a ‘gotcha’ moment for the police investigation, was found on Bradley Murdoch’s gun holster. In her original interview with police, Joanne Lees said she had lost two items on the day it happened. One was a denim jacket, the other was a hair tie which she described as “three strands platted together by metal”. The hair tie found on Murdoch was dissimilar to hers and had no DNA from Lees – or from any female.

Peter Falconio and Joanne Lees – she with her hair tied back

The hair tie seems to have assumed new importance after most of the DNA evidence led by the Crown was discredited in the series, as we reported in our story of July 21, 2020.

The two experts giving DNA evidence at the appeal were at odds over the science, so much so the court put all of it aside, and relied on all the other evidence for its ruling to decline the appeal.

The absence of male footprints at the crime scene (but several other footprints, including those of Lees)  also plays into the uncertainty surrounding the version of the story presented by the prosecution: there were no footprints of either Murdoch or Falconio at the rear of the combi, where the prosecution claimed the murder took place. And there has not been any evidence produced that Falconio was shot.

Beyond reasonable doubt?

These factors and the many questions that are still subject of speculation – about the body, the motive, aspects of Lees’ story – make this case more of a running mystery than an open and shut murder case, where the prosecution case has been proven beyond reasonable doubt. We are not advocating for Murdoch’s innocence here, but neither are we convinced that the police & prosecution have done a satisfactory job or that the truth about this event has been revealed in full. Is Murdoch’s guilt proven beyond reasonable doubt …?

There is also the intriguing matter of Robert Brown. As we reported last week “… a local, who swears he saw Peter Falconio in his remote shop after the news of the murder hit the papers. He knows it was Falconio because he was just looking at his photo in the paper when Falconio walked in. “I look at him and … bang … I just seen him in the paper.”

Could he have been mistaken? A look-alike? The man who Brown identified as Falconio, with his Pommy accent, bought a can of Coke and a Mars bar from Brown. At Ti Tree where the young couple had earlier stopped for petrol and provisions as well as a joint, Falconio also bought two items: a can of Coke and a Mars bar. {Play eerie music …}





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16 Responses to Was Joanne Lees’ hair tie a smoking gun?

  1. denise young says:

    I have thought long and hard about writing the following, the reason being I am new to this forum and I don’t wish to stretch friendship. My question is, how many people here have ever had a gun pulled on them in anger?
    Back in the 60’s I was living in America and on two occasion I had to go to a bar and pick up my very drunk friend. After getting him outside I started to walk him home, ( the time was about 01.00 the first time and a bit earlier in the second ). I had placed his left arm over my shoulder and with my other hand grabbed his belt and started to walk, we didn’t make a sound. We had walked about 100 yards when a Black and White came around the corner and stopped along side of us. The cop jumped out of his vehicle and as he walked toward us drew his gun. He got to within three feet where he promptly held his arm out straight and asked in a very typical cop manner. WTF are you doing whilst holding the gun about 12 inches from my face? And this is why I asked the question, the only thing I was concerned with was the very large Black what looked to me to be a cannon, that was wavering around in front of my eyes. Two things I
    always remember to this day, was the size of the Black hole that was the business end of the gun and the fact that this cop was nervous. The second time was a virtual replay several weeks later.
    So, with what I have just described how was it that JL was so cool that she could describe a gun whilst all she would have seen was the end of a barrel?

  2. Susan Manning says:

    Cm said it was him in the cctv at the shell. It was reported that he saw l & f at alice springs friday, he was also said to be at barrow creek pub that day, dressed in the same clothes as described by jl. Yet he was not called by defence.

  3. denise young says:

    Some of you might find the following interesting. It is the police inventory of the contents of the Kombi. The number 182 in the list is the one and only positive article that relates to Peter Falconio. Strange that his passport, driving License,clothes, credit cards etc and the book he was supposed to have been reading are not listed.


  4. As I think most people can understand, Murdoch altered his vehicles and appearance due to his line of business and subsequently to evade the border patrols during his travels. This weighed heavily against him in court as it suited the prosecution’s narrative that he shot Falconio, however nothing explains how he could have altered the image of Jack, his Dalmatian. The dog was described by Lees in all her testimonies as brown, black in appearance and a cattle dog. I have no understanding of how someone from Britain cannot know what a Dalmatian looks like, assuming the dog and Murdoch were present at all. There are no two pieces of evidence that seem to stack up in this case and when nothing made sense, Lees just changed her testimony and the NT police and judiciary allowed this happen to suit the narrative. I can also thoroughly recommend Robin Bowles’ book ‘DEAD CENTRE’ as it expertly chronicles the case from beginning to end and much more. It’s a brilliant read and I have ordered the new, updated version.

  5. Robin Bowles says:

    Murdoch told me during one of the visits I made to him in prison(over 60 hours in all over two years) that he bought those hair ties to keep things together and stop them rattling around in his rig. You can buy 5 for $2 at Priceline. No JL hair or DNA on he tie! How flimsy is that? If your followers would like a copy of my latest edition of Dead Centre (3rd) with 10000 new words and new pictures, they could send me a message bia fb Messenger and I’ll post them a signed copy. Thanks Andrew for keeping the debate alive.

    • Denise Young says:

      Robin, I have just finished your “Dead Centre “, book 2020 version. I would like to ask if you are aware that a three page Stat Dec was sworn out by a gentleman by the name of Atkins from S.A in 2010 ? In it, he claims that he was travelling the same route as JL/PF for several hours and that they interchanged positions several times during the trip. He goes on to give his version of what he saw which if true, is to say the least mind blowing i.e it portrays JL et al in a totally different light, so to speak!

  6. Williambtm says:

    Given your much clearer account of what the true facts were is much appreciated.
    I did not hold too closely with the version of events as were reported in the public domain.

    My having worked and lived in one of the most isolated regions in Australia, the Nullarbor plains in both Western and Southern Australia, one can more reasonably depict the carriage of events as were put to the court by the prosecutor as being unsound or at a minimum outside the realms of reality.
    Thank you, Andrew, for your more accurate and corrected carriage of the events leading up to the charges laid against Bradley Murdoch, from thereon in one can now better doubt the police carriage and the prosecution of this case matter after the true facts are known as are necessary to provide an informed personal opinion.
    Too much trust had been given to the statements proffered by Joanne Lees, one must understand that she and Peter Falconio were engaged in the same line of occupation as was Bradley Murdoch.

  7. Brett Wilson says:

    Interestingly, there is no Coke, Chocolate or Sweets (Lifesavers) purchased from the Ti Tree Roadhouse on the receipt as Joanne Lees describes. As I can not attach the image to this comment, if the Admin of this site would like to email me, then I can provide a copy of same.

    The receipt reads as follows:

    Handwritten on the top in pen: 89,272 (which is said to be the odometer reading after filling up with fuel).

    Ti Tree Roadhouse
    Stuart Highway
    Postal ( PO Box 3546 Alice Springs
    Ti Tree NT 0872
    Phone: (08) 89569741
    Fax: (08) 89569780
    ABN: 97 074 849 568

    Tax Invoice Receipt # 246
    Clerk: Rick

    Sale: 14/07/01 – 6:21:50 PM
    31.22 Litres (Leaded)
    @ $1.19 p/Ltr


    Total Sale: $37.15
    GST Amount: $3.38

    Cash $37.15
    Total: $37.15

  8. Brian Johnston says:

    It was not Lees hair tie. Murdoch used hair ties for tying stuff.
    It is if the whole saga was premeditated. The manacles. No one would go to the trouble of making manacles and carrying them around in the hope they could be used. Murdoch was a practical man and would have used nylon ties in the normal sense. The manacles were a ‘Hollywood prop’. What happened is different to what we have been told. The inside rear of Murdoch’s vehicle had a built up floor, not much room for Lees. And so it goes on.
    Many comments and reports refer to Falconio being dead, the expression is allegedly dead. If only the police had investigated properly.

  9. owen allen says:

    Good work Andrew. No, Great work Andrew.

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