JimmyT revisits the murky world of the TV “investigation” of the Peter Falconio murder …
Those of you who’ve been transfixed by the unexplained mysteries and “new evidence” presented by the Channel Seven documentary series about the disappearance of Peter Falconio and the subsequent hounding of Joanne Lees, may be interested in the definitive book about the murder of the English backpacker.
What does “And Then The Darkness” have to do with Flat Chat? It was written by our very own Sue Williams.
And why is it any better than any of the many others? For a start, it was the first Australian crime book ever to be short-listed for the UK’s prestigious Golden Dagger awards, for the best true crime book in the world that year.
At the risk of sounding subjective, some of the others are so poorly researched and biased, either against Joanne Lees or in favour of Bradley Murdoch, that they aren’t even worth the paper they were printed on.
Maybe I’m prejudiced but I spent several weeks in Darwin covering the trial, researching a TV documentary (which was gazumped by a British production). I recall vividly sitting with one writer who was taking two cartons of chocolate milk into the holding cells for Murdoch, “because he loves it”.
This was despite their book saying that Murdoch would not have bought chocolate milk at the roadhouse where he was captured on CCTV because he was lactose intolerant.
Then there was the humiliating farce of Joanne Lees having to show in court how she freed herself from having her hands shackled behind her back, all because one writer had hired a ballet dancer to “prove” that it couldn’t be done.
The problem was, the writer didn’t have the elaborate shackles Murdoch made for his victims, which allow a lot more leeway than wrists bound tightly together.
Then there was the UK journalist who was told by his newsdesk to “get the bitch” because Lees had refused all interviews. So the UK tabloids went after her and the Australian papers piled in, each justifying the other in their relentless orgy of victim shaming.
And there was the evidence that couldn’t be led in court, of the identical shackles and weapons, as well as Joanne Lees’ elastic hair tie, discovered hidden in Murdoch’s car when he was arrested for a sex crime in South Australia, for which he was later found not guilty.
As this current alleged doco proves, some people never let the truth get in the way of a good story. And we live in an age where facts are a fragile concept and people choose what they want to believe and reject everything that doesn’t concur with that point of view.
Hey, maybe I’m doing that too. But I have the advantage of having met most of the characters in this story – from truckies, to cops, to roadhouse owners – and I have seen the corrosive effect of conspiracy theories at close hand.
There’s a story in Sue’s book about how the police took Joanne out for a meal in the early days of the investigation, only, to their horror, to have the Press Corp turn up in numbers and take the adjacent table.
These supposed trained observers and ace reporters who had spent days trying to track her down, didn’t even notice that their quarry was at the next table.
You can read more about “And Then The Darkness” and get a signed copy of the book at a special Flat Chat price of $25 (including Australian postage) by going to Sue’s website HERE.
Everybody’s talking about the Falconio murder – it would be good if someone in your group had the facts.