Photographers started lining up outside the Darwin Supreme Court at
7.30am this morning, settling in for a two hour wait before the arrival
of primary witness Joanne Lees in a blue skirt and high buttoned white
blouse. For all the headline-grabbing international interest in the
Falconio case there were less than 40 members of the public (mostly
out-of-towners) watching this morning’s session on a big screen in
court number two.
Evidence tendered this morning included caravan park receipts from
Adelaide and Alice Springs, an airline ticket for flights between
Brisbane and Sydney in August 2001, a hair band and a comfit book. Ms
Lees said that after the incident at Barrow Creek “I didn’t really
sleep for days, I felt vulnerable and was afraid of the dark. I didn’t
sleep for days I just sort of rested.”
Shown a photograph of a man entering a service station in Alice Springs,
Ms Lees told police he looked too old. She has since identified the
same man as her attacker. Lees also admitted that while she had turned
down hundreds of requests for interviews because “I didn’t want to
jeopardise the trail” she had done an interview with Mark Bashir for
50,000 pounds. “I wasn’t receiving much communication from the police.
I was aware the task force had been reduced” and she wanted to bring
much more publicity into the case.
On 10 October 2002 friends drew her attention to a BBC website on which
she learned a suspect had been detained. The site included a small
photograph “I said that’s the man,” said Lees.
Under cross examination by defence counsel Grant Algie there was much
discussion over the bull bar as to whether it was a chrome built bull bar
or, as she now recalls, “white, bright and shiny.” When Peter Falconio
got out of the Kombi Joanne Lees said she moved into the driver’s seat
so she could watch Peter. He moved to the back of the vehicle. She
could not see him but she could hear him. She said that there had been
some backfiring from the exhaust in the previous two weeks that they’d
been on the road.
“I was very concerned with what was happening with our Kombi. I
couldn’t see Pete, I could hear him. I could see the man. He was
standing looking down. At one point he made eye contact.”