Human remains found near where British backpacker vanished over 20 years ago

Human remains have been found near to where murdered British backpacker Peter Falconio was last seen alive in Australia in 2001.

Peter, from Hepworth, West Yorkshire, had been driving at night with his girlfriend Joanne Lees in the Outback when they were flagged down by a stranger, drug runner Bradley John Murdoch.

Murdoch shot Peter dead and tied Joanne up but she managed to escape and helped identify her boyfriend’s killer.

Peter’s body was never found despite what authorities called ‘one of the most exhaustive police investigations ever seen in Australia’.

Bone fragments found this week near Alice Springs are now set to be tested against his DNA and dental records.

They were discovered a few hundred kilometres from where he was shot, a relatively short distance given the vast size of the Northern Territories.

It falls within an 2000km area detectives believed the murderer was likely to have dumped the body.

Alice Springs is connected to the murder site by a single highway, the same one the couple were travelling on when they were attacked.

The find may have resulted from a tip-off sent to a South Australian politician who appealed for new information last year.

The tipper reportedly told police he had seen a vehicle similar to the one used by Murdoch parked in a strange position on the side of a local road, but never heard back from detectives during the initial investigation.

Murdoch has continued to maintain his innocence and refuses to answer questions about where Peter’s body is located.

Remains discovered in 2003, 2004 and 2007 were also investigated but proved not to belong to Peter, sparking further appeals over the years.

A Northern Territory detective said this week: ‘We have been down this track before so we are not jumping to any conclusions.’

Murdoch was found guilty of the murder in December 2005 after extensive DNA and CCTV evidence was presented to a court.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 28 years’ jail.

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