I read Joanne Lees’s book last night. It’s self-serving, self-congratulatory and full of padding about sunsets, swimming laps in various pools and how grateful Lees is to this or that friend who believed her and supported her.
But it fails to answer vital questions. After all, a man has been sentenced to 28 years in one of the toughest prisons in Australia. If there are inaccuracies in the story, this could be a miscarriage of justice.
These are the questions I would like to hear Joanne Lees answer:
Happily ever after or on the last legs of a break-up?
Will you comment on the stories that in the UK, Peter would bring in large quantities of duty free grog and cigarettes from France and then sell them at a profit to your friends at social functions at your flat? Is it true that one of his friends said: “He’d sell his grandmother for a tenner”?
Why did Peter and his friend Paul Dale spend time and money before you left Sydney on pulling out and replacing the panelling in the Kombi when the engine was so old it barely functioned? Was anything hidden behind those new panels?
Is it possible that Peter could have agreed to carry some drugs across a couple of state borders for someone? As a daily user of cannabis he had connections with the drug scene in Sydney. Could the “unprovoked” incident at Barrow Creek have been a drug handover gone wrong?
Why did you lie under oath about your clandestine relationship with Nick Reilly, concealed in your email addresses as “Steph”? Why, when your boyfriend of five years was probably lying dead in the desert, did you continue to secretly email “Steph” and make arrangements to meet him in Berlin? Are you surprised that this and other clues about your shaky relationship with Peter caused the NT police to consider you as a possible suspect in his disappearance?
When you left Judy and Bill Pilton’s house in Alice Springs, where you spent the first couple of nights after the incident, you left a note you’d written to a friend in one of the pockets of your borrowed track-pants. This letter was very critical of Peter and actually threatened his welfare. Why would you write such a letter if your relationship was in such good shape?
Why did you and Peter have a “blazing row” (witnessed by many people) at Mataranka Hostel the night before you left Alice Springs? Why did you have another row (also witnessed) at the library the next day? What about the statement from one of the backpackers you gave a lift to about another row as you travelled between Uluru and Alice Springs, where Peter walked away from the van and you followed and hit him?
Why did you leave Alice Springs so late (around 4.30pm) on 14 July if you did not have to keep an appointment? Why risk the night driving, the dodgy engine on the Kombi and the long distances between civilisation?
Why did you tell the jury that the fire beside the road just past Ti Tree made you “scared because it could be a trap or a trick”? Why would an innocent backpacker be scared about being “trapped” or “tricked”?
If the killer was after you, why did he let you, the only eyewitness to Peter’s murder, escape?
Why did you change your story about how you were pushed through the space between the seats in the 4WD? You told Martin Bashir: “he pulled me and grabbed me and pushed me [between the seats] into the back of his vehicle, which had some sort of bed in there.” You told the Alice Springs police the same story and they spent months and millions looking for a similar vehicle with a crawl space between the seats and didn’t find one in Australia.
At the trial you told the jury you might have got confused with the front-to-rear access of the Kombi. “As I have had time to reflect on my initial statement and I remember landing in the rear of the vehicle on my stomach, it’s possible he may have pushed me through the side of the canvas.” Why did you wait for nearly four years to reveal this critical piece of evidence?
Why do you think after all the struggling and manhandling you’ve told the court about, did your attacker only leave one tiny spot of his DNA on your shirt and not one fingerprint in the Kombi?
How do you think you were able to escape from his 4WD without getting a
single dog hair on your clothing, when you say you first sat in the passenger seat just vacated by his dog and then wriggled across the bedding where Murdoch’s dog regularly slept on long trips and made your escape out the back?
How do you think you were able to elude Murdoch, an experienced bushman, in sparse bush when you say (Martin Bashir interview): “I knew he was behind me, I could hear him behind me. I tripped over a few times… I knew I couldn’t outrun him so I just crawled into a bush and hid. I didn’t go very far, 30-40m. I heard his footsteps crunching the branches and I saw the torch — very close — he came past me three or four times … He was three to four metres away, maybe closer.”