Joanne Lees has much to answer for


‘Joanne Lees risked Outback killer case’: Prosecutor says girlfriend of murder victim Peter Falconio nearly destroyed case with her behaviour

The Falconio case remains a talking point in Britain and Australia to this day as Murdoch serves 28 years imprisonment for murdering the Briton, whose body has never been found.

Not sure if it was a talking point here but it was Downunder, at least in the media – I was in Russia at the time and did not discuss it with anyone.

My reaction was twofold as I recall – firstly that she was very pretty and secondly that she didn’t seem to care much for the victim.

That was honestly all I thought about it until reading a casual remark that she’d been cheating on her boyfriend back in Sydney. That, to me, soured my view of her completely and put her behaviour in a different light.

But this is cart before the horse. The story, quickly was:

Miss Lees has told how she and Mr Falconio – she was 27 and he was a year older at the time – were tricked into stopping their campervan by a stranger who was following them as they travelled at night near an outpost called Barrow Creek.

She said that when her boyfriend got out of the vehicle she heard what she thought was a shot. The man then dragged her from the campervan and threw her into his vehicle, but she said she escaped and hid in the roadside bushes before she was eventually rescued by two men in a passing lorry.

That story, of course, did not convince many people. And it was far worse when the court case came:

She insisted, [the prosecutor] said, on absolute control of her image, including refusing to walk in through the court’s front doors and instead chos[ing] to lie down under a jacket on the back seat of a car.

‘She was focused and completely cool and people might misread that and misunderstand that. People want some sympathy and tears and some lowering of the guard.’

Which was Lindy Chamberlain’s and Kate McCann’s failing too – cold and calculating, not distraught but if that was their nature before, they could hardly change it after, except by putting on an act.   If you’re not nice, you’re just not nice.

And of course here it comes:

The former prosecutor admitted he was worried when he found out that Miss Lees had been having an affair with another British backpacker shortly before she and Mr Falconio had set out to drive through the outback.

I read at the time that they’d been “having issues” or at least she maintained they had, which is not the same thing at all.  And other anomalies abound:

They ask why Miss Lees did not see Mr Falconio’s body when she was pulled from the campervan and why Murdoch’s ‘very friendly’ Dalmation dog did not sniff her out as she hid in the bushes and he came looking for her and failed to find her.

They were the days when I, for one, had a basically positive attitude towards young women and like many, it never once occurred to me that Joanne Lees might have in some way had a hand in the death – how naive is that and I write of naivety on the part of other people?   My focus was just on her cheating and how terrible it was that she had not supported her guy.

It does play a part in the case – how the males reacted to her, how she turned up at the hearings in the smart white blouse … and so on.

Remembering that Agatha Christie was a woman and knew women, this below was a pen portrait in fiction which should have given me pause, you’ll see the connection near the end:

“Susan reminds me of her uncle. She has the vigour, the drive, the mental capacity of Richard Abernethie. It may be my fancy that she lacks some of the kindliness and the warmth of my old friend.”

“Women are never kind,” remarked Poirot, “Though they can sometimes be tender. She loves her husband?”

“Devotedly, I should say. But really, Poirot, I can’t believe – I won’t believe for one moment that Susan could have – “

“That is natural, mon ami. As for me, I am not so sentimental about beautiful young ladies,” said Poirot.

What struck me at the time was how she was playing to the gallery and ‘doing’ the put-upon innocent. I’d not have given that much more thought until reading that bit about controlling her image and that brings in another thing – once it’s obvious the woman is calculating, the scales fall from the eyes and the mystique of the pretty female evaporates.

And then one starts to really re-read the evidence hard and anomalies before we might have skipped over, e.g. her actions in Murdoch’s car.

There is this tendency in the mind of a man that at that moment when those scales fall, due to some anomaly in her story,  he savagely swings the other way and goes after her with a vengeance. For a woman, that must be worrying, as she does not know at what point she trips up in her story, she’s not aware it might just have been her manner.

And that may explain her ‘careful control of her image’. It also explains cases such as Lindy Chamberlain and Mrs. McCann where first she’s an innocent victim, next she’s the devil incarnate, next the country reacts and she’s a badly abused innocent again.

The only way to resolve it is to have the transcripts of the evidence. Most don’t, some commenting here may have. The journalist here:

… does seem to have dug into the ‘string of apparent inconsistencies in her evidence’. You can read those in that article, for example:

In statements she told police she was forced through a gap in the front seats. But had doubts when told that there were no four-wheel-drive vehicles with front to rear access in Australia.

Then there was this:


One more:

And so it goes on. Clearly she’d not thought of those. Now, if she was lying, the obvious question was why.

On the other hand, in her defence, much was made of how she could have her hands tied behind her back and then suddenly have them in front of her.

Reports say she then physically demonstrated how she could do that [not being a large woman]. And such things do count. However, that’s just a report that she demonstrated that. Also, who’s to say the hands were tied the same way – all of it was her testimony and hers alone.

But how could he be convicted on such shaky evidence, given her proven propensity for lying and cheating?

One commenter noted that what reporters report is but a fraction of the whole evidence. That’s so. On the other hand, in something like the Amanda Knox trial, every single word she said was recorded and is available right now online, plus every other transcript.

Not in the Falconio case though and that’s the main problem.


[The first half of the post is as it’s always been but the second half – rambling paragraphs about how I personally felt concerning whether she could lie – has been replaced today, Feb 17, 2017, by some more links to reports at the time, plus some questions, plus another photo.]

23 comments for “Joanne Lees has much to answer for

  1. November 11, 2013 at 17:56

    Since feminists started getting away with murder I have decided not to treat them as ladies any more. Well, they SAY that’s what they want, don’t they?

    I am only prepared to treat women as ladies if they act like ladies.

    November 12, 2013 at 11:08

    12 November 2013

    Thank you James for your insightful words. Most definitely Joanne Lees has much to answer for. Of course she could do herself immeasurable good by now telling the whole truth. (Her 2006 book is defensive, incomplete, and far from being truthful.) Not only would she make a great sum of money, she could redeem herself. One suspects this woman could be forgiven and that she might have a happier life once the whole truth is put on paper. Nietzsche said: All truths kept silent become poisonous. It is such debilitating poison which acts on women like Joanne Lees.

  3. Brian Wyborne Huntley Esq.
    November 14, 2013 at 16:18

    Joanne Lees would not have needed to play a role in, Crown -v- Murdoch.
    If “The Barrow Creek Incident” was looked at Objectively, Without Bias, as a crime scene proper.
    Why was there NO evidence to prove. “Beyond Reasonable Doubt” That Peter Falconio was murdered At Barrow Creek, and there never was.
    We need to address is “The Reasonable doubt” over “The Barrow Creek Incident” as a separate issue to. Crown -v-Murdoch.
    Since “The Barrow Creek Incident” its been. Lees-Lees-Lees. The Me-Me Me.
    What About Peter.!.
    The Timeline-Statements-Evidence. (And,Why there was a lack of certain evidence). Clearly define that The evidence was placed at the scene.
    Logic dictates there are only two reasons this would apply.
    1. Peter Faked His Death.
    2. He was Murdered Elsewhere.
    Barrow Creek Incident was so simple it beggars belief.

  4. Brian Wyborne -Huntley Esq
    November 14, 2013 at 17:50

    Whats This.!.
    Over Ten years.
    More Lees-Lees-Lees….
    And Your still Missing the point.!.


    Now look at “The Barrow Creek Incident”
    Objectively, Without Bias. As a Scene of Crime.

    The Barrow Creek Incident. “WAS” an incident in its own right.
    Well before someone decided to link it to “Crown-v-Murdoch”.

    The Issue here is one of “Reasonable Doubt”.
    And lots of it.

    There is good reason why it cannot be proven that,
    Peter Falconio was murdered at, Barrow Creek.

    Either He Was Deceased at the real scene of crime.
    or he faked his death at, Barrow Creek.

    The Original, Timeline-Statements-Evidence, support this and, why certain evidence was NOT found.!.

    This will not go away, until this is viewed objectively.

    The Authorities were given pieces of the puzzle and drew a picture according to, Lees-Lees-Lees.
    Now look outside the box at, The Real Picture.!.

  5. November 14, 2013 at 20:59

    OK, so what do we have here?

    # No evidence of her being chased to the bushes

    # No evidence of an actual murder, except on her say-so about a shot

    # Her remaining silent and dictating how and when she’d appear

    # If her silence is because she helped or knew he would disappear, was it because of debt?

    # If she was cheating on him, why would she also help?

    # Did she kill him somewhere else?

    Thing is, I haven’t studied this one, don’t know if his prints were everywhere or what.

  6. November 15, 2013 at 05:18

    I saw a spoof video some time back (lost ref now) about the attractions different counties offer. For Oz it was losing/hiding bodies.

  7. November 15, 2013 at 06:17

    The Spinifex can hide a body if it was in a 1000 sq km range, even with aboriginal trackers.

    I did look at it last evening later, including this chap’s a/c and it seems to me she knew far more than she was saying but at the same time, he was involved, the perp.

    I do think Falconio is dead, though the testimony of those people in Sydney needs to be considered – after all, Lucan got away with it. To my mind, she’s not a nice person but that doesn’t make her party to murder.

    Methinks she’s scared and traumatized and wants it all to go away. Might be guilty of aiding and abetting though. That mistake about crawling through to the tray and escaping was a woman type mistake about physics and structures.

    That one about conveniently having hands tied so she could move her hands to the front to drive doesn’t wash in her version.

    She kept liaisons with other men and none too particular either but how she got onto this one I don’t know, except through social networking. Interesting they were heading for Broome but then again, it was the perp’s stomping ground anyway so not much can be made of that without social media records.

    Too many unknowns in this case, unlike with Knox and Sollecito, where direct evidence ties them in. With them, the totality of evidence is critical – all put together on the table and viewed from a distance, it’s inescapable.

    With Lees and the perp, the totality is what confuses. Every time there’s a scenario, some witness stymies it.

  8. Brian Wyborne Huntley Esq.
    November 15, 2013 at 06:26

    It will be one BIG Slug against the NT Government when evidence is produced against them.

    There is severe lack of faith in the Judiciary of Australia , When errors are not considered and more so if with bias only one of 4 case scenario was presented to a jury to deliberate on.
    Only when all four case scenario are presented. Justice may be deemed to be done fair.
    For this reason alone there must be a full review in to “The Barrow Creek Incident.”
    All honest thinking people must without bias fight for the fundamental right for TRUTH and JUSTICE to prevail.
    Putting aside The politics of policing and the public slandering of the state system.
    A Vote of NO confidence exists.

    The Australian Government retain the position of power to instigate.

    A Diplomatic Resolution.

    Of which would keep certain information out of the public domain if it is in the best interest of state to do so.
    As It has to be considered that there may be underlying issues requiring “None Disclosure”.

  9. Brian Wyborne Huntley Esq.
    November 15, 2013 at 06:40

    Thanks James ..

    Quote…James Higham… The Totality of evidence is critical – All put together on the table and viewed from a distance is critical. …Unquote.!.

    The links you have provided are most appreciated.

    They must be viewed objectively.. without bias…also.

  10. Sue
    December 15, 2015 at 07:47

    I think Joanne Lees was very friendly with the Police and members of the Judiciary. Murdoch had no one to back him.
    When a children are murdered the Sallies are always in Court trying to get the matter dropped. Police were not even interested in the witnesses that claim that they saw Falconia a week after the alleged murder. No body found. Everyone frightened or in love with Joanne and the case not investigated fully.

    • December 15, 2015 at 07:57

      Quite right, Sue. I’ve been on her case for years now and Murdoch did not have a chance.

  11. Sue
    July 13, 2016 at 11:50

    Wish the case was reopened. We need top Q.C’s to handle it. Do it for justice and decency. When found innocent hope all those involved including the Judge are gaoled for life never to be released.

    • July 13, 2016 at 12:43

      Yes, agreed, it’s the only possible way it should go.

  12. Distant Relative
    February 3, 2017 at 09:30

    We do well to remember old Rudyard!

    “When the Himalayan peasant meets the he-bear in his pride,

    He shouts to scare the monster, who will often turn aside.

    But the she-bear thus accosted rends the peasant tooth and nail.

    For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.”

    —Rudyard Kipling, “The Female of the Species”

    Which is probably why – ” Among some of the most elite military counter-terrorist units there is a doctrine known as, “Shoot the women first.” In execution it goes like this: when you have a group of terrorists in your sights, first eliminate the females. Why? Because when a woman steps outside her female nature—inclined less towards violence and more towards negotiation—she becomes more lethal than male terrorists.” quote from Ann Barnhardt.

    • February 3, 2017 at 10:17

      Ooh, like that very much.

      • Distant Relative
        February 4, 2017 at 10:41

        This is somewhat embarrassing *ahem*. It wasn’t a quote from Ann Barnhardt. It was a quote from a post about her.
        I remembered something from several years ago about the phrase “Shoot the women first” but couldn’t recall where. It was a journo in an interview but the memory was vague. I tried to drag it up to illustrate that women have the capacity to be ruthless when the need arises and imo it is a good example. This is where it came from I believe.

        I shall now do penance for my sloppy research but blame my haste on the storms that are reeking havoc with the rubber band that serves as my internet connection. 🙂

        Reading more about Ms Barnhardt this a.m. she seems to be an interesting character nonetheless – she burnt the Koran after placing a bacon rasher in it as a bookmark.

  13. Margie
    February 16, 2017 at 12:29

    If anyone watched the 60 Minutes coverage of the 15-year disappearance of Peter Falconio, why was Robin Bowles’ investigation never mentioned?

  14. Brian
    February 17, 2017 at 05:37

    Joanne Lees is lying?

    We can only speculate

  15. March 16, 2017 at 15:43

    After reading all the details available ithink she is covering up the truth for certain . She lied so many times even about the boyfriend .. 1 witness stated she stopped ata different stop and ran up to a guy and spoke to him . Now she claims to have a sister which i dont think is true , they tried to make her look like her, white dress and all but she is not related and hasa strong english accent . Who was the father she claims to have found ?? Her mother just died also and was not very old . The boyfriend left but no one checked when they didnt even spell his name correctly , it was Nick Reilly not Riley . He went to work for an insurance company in IT called Swiss Re Insurance who is connected to Deitch bank in Germany where they were going to meet . Money is always the motive and he is very suspect . So is Newtown far more to be found there i think . Anyone can insure anyone else so maybe he did , no-one everchecked ifinsurance paid out on his faked death. You cannot mistake a dalmation for a healer dog . An x SAS guy in Terrigal spooted him andfolowed him ,got the adress and reported it , they didnt want to know . He even went to the UK and told them they just said tell the Aussies . INTEL COULD BE INVOLVED .. They always use ators in false flags or fake set ups .

  16. Margie
    March 26, 2017 at 14:09

    I met the guy in charge of Barrow Creek Roadhouse and he was obviously besotted with Joanne Lees and loved media attention himself, even bragging about how he shaved his head for a cancer appeal while I cycled the whole Stuart Highway for kidney disease. The lady who ran the roadhouse however was very reticent in giving out information to ‘just anyone’ so I would trust her opinion in that she did not believe Joanne Lees’ testimony after being ignored by her at the trial. As Robin Bowles correctly documented, if Lees hid in the spinifex, why did she not have ANY scratches on her legs? So much basic information was ignored by NT justice system in an attempt to get a quick verdict. This case needs to be retried, but NOT by NT justice.

    • March 26, 2017 at 17:12

      Think you and Rose are on the money here – I admit fully that I was a bit besotted with Ms Lees at first, being male and all that – yes, I could well have [cough] and that does cloud the judgment, as she made full use of. It was only after examining her evidence I started to think, ‘Hang on a moment …’. Plus the testimony of others. Plus this now.

  17. Ken
    December 19, 2017 at 07:03

    When footage of the cctv , allegedly of Murdoch, was shown here in Australia, the guy was standing near the door of the 4wd. To my mind he looked to be around 5’7″ in height, Murdoch is over 6ft. The so called ‘Blood’ evidence is questionable. Too many unanswered questions around this whole affair make me think that she has been deceptive, just my 2 cents worth.

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