Bradley John Murdoch

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Bradley John Murdoch
Bradley John Murdoch
Born (1958-02-19) 19 February 1958 (age 62)
Truck driver
Deprivation of liberty
Aggravated unlawful assault
Criminal penaltyLife imprisonment
28 years non-parole period

Bradley John Murdoch (born 19 February 1958) is an Australian criminal serving life imprisonment for the July 2001 murder of English backpacker Peter Falconio in Australia. He will be 74 when eligible for parole in 2032. Murdoch is being held in Darwin Correctional Centre in Darwin, Northern Territory.[1] He has lodged two appeals against his conviction; both of which were unsuccessful. The High Court of Australia refused special leave to appeal on 21 June 2007. He is forbidden to talk to the press.[2]

Early life[edit]

Murdoch was born on 19 February 1958[3] in Geraldton, Western Australia, an unexpected third son (the others were aged 11 and 14) to parents Colin Murdoch (a mechanic) and Nancy Murdoch (a hairdresser).[3] The family lived in nearby Northampton, before moving to Perth when he was 12 years old. Murdoch had problems adjusting to city life, and soon became involved with a biker gang.[3]

At 15 years old, he left high school and moved back to Geraldton where he started becoming involved in biker gang criminal activities.[3] He also had his own trucking business, but declared bankruptcy in 1983. In 1980, he had met his partner Dianne, whom he married in July 1984 – they had a son, but they were separated by 1986 due to domestic violence. He was then employed as a truck driver (and illicit-drug smuggler), and admitted in court to smuggling large amounts of cannabis.[4] He also began to display white supremacist tendencies (particularly in the wake of the 1992 Mabo decision), alongside a racist tattoo.[3] By 1998, after release from prison, he was living in Derby, running drugs, and driving road trains, before resettling in Broome and running drugs to Sedan.[3]

Previous criminal charges[edit]

  • In 1980, aged 21, Murdoch received a suspended sentence after being convicted of causing death by dangerous driving, after hitting and killing a motorcyclist.[5]
  • In November 1995, Murdoch started a 21-month imprisonment for the 20 August 1995 drunken incident of shooting at people who were celebrating at an indigenous Australian rules football grand-final match in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia.[6] He was released after 15 months.
  • In 2003, he was charged with seven counts of abduction and rape, but was acquitted of these charges.[7]

Peter Falconio trial and incarceration[edit]

A Toyota Land Cruiser pick-up/ute with canopy similar to the one used by Bradley Murdoch

Shortly after his acquittal for unrelated rape and abduction charges, Murdoch was arrested in 2003 and charged with the murder of Peter Falconio on a remote part of the Stuart Highway near Barrow Creek on 14 July 2001.[8] The case was heard before the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory in Darwin, and began on 17 October 2005. Murdoch pleaded not guilty to charges of murdering Peter Falconio and assaulting and attempting to kidnap his girlfriend Joanne Lees.[9] Murdoch was convicted on 13 December 2005 for Falconio's murder. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a non-parole period of 28 years. He was also convicted of other assault-related charges on Joanne Lees.[10]

On 12 December 2006, he appealed against his life sentence in the Supreme Court, claiming the evidence of Lees was tainted because she had seen a photograph of him on the internet before she was interviewed by police, as well as an article linking him to the murder.[11] The appeal was dismissed on 10 January 2007.[12] In mid-August 2007, some sections of the Australian media speculated that Murdoch might soon reveal the whereabouts of Falconio's remains. Specifically, the press mentioned that Murdoch did not enjoy the conditions of the Berrimah Prison, on the outskirts of Darwin and might reveal the location of Falconio's body in exchange for a transfer to a prison in Western Australia, given that all avenues of appeal had been exhausted.[13] An appeal to the High Court was unsuccessful. He launched another appeal to the Northern Territory criminal court of appeal in 2013; the appeal was later withdrawn by his lawyers in March of 2014 .[14]

In June 2020, a four-part documentary TV series was aired on UK TV Channel 4 entitled Murder in the Outback: The Falconio and Lees Mystery.[15]


  1. ^ Falconi murderer moved to Alice Springs Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 25 August 2007
  2. ^ "An insight into Bradley John Murdoch's mind - the killer of Peter Falconio". 10 April 2013. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Case 44: Peter Falconio – Casefile: True Crime Podcast". Casefile: True Crime Podcast. 29 January 2017. Retrieved 1 March 2018.
  4. ^ Mercer, Phil (9 May 2014). "Bradley Murdoch takes the stand". Retrieved 30 November 2005.
  5. ^ Murdoch, Lindsay (15 December 2005). "Massive search for Falconio remains". The Age. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  6. ^ Murdoch, Lindsay (16 December 2005). "28-year minimum sentence for Outback killing". The Age. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  7. ^ "Murdoch gets life for backpacker murder". The Scotsman. 14 December 2005. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  8. ^ "Falconio detectives swoop on trucker". The Scotsman. 10 November 2003. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  9. ^ "Outback murder trial begins". The Sydney Morning Herald. 17 October 2005. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  10. ^ "Timeline in the disappearance of Peter Falconio". The Australian. 10 January 2007. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  11. ^ Evidence questioned in Murdoch appeal Archived 14 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 12 December 2006
  12. ^ Falconio killer loses appeal Archived 13 January 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 10 January 2007.
  13. ^ Will outback's big murder secret be revealed? - National -
  14. ^ Bradley Murdoch in new appeal over Peter Falconio killing - BBC News
  15. ^ "Murder in the Outback - what's the true story behind the Channel 4 documentary?". Radio Times. Retrieved 21 July 2020.