Bradley Murdoch altered his appearance and made changes to his Toyota Landcruiser after returning home from a drama-filled Australian Outback trip in mid-2001, his former girlfriend said today.
Murdoch – accused of the murder of British backpacker Peter Falconio in July 2001 – was also sick for a week after returning from the journey, Beverley Allan recalled today
Ms Allan, 42, was giving evidence against her former lover at the committal hearing in Darwin into the alleged murder of Mr Falconio, from Huddersfield, beside an Outback Northern Territory highway on July 14, 2001.
Murdoch is also accused of the unlawful assault and deprivation of liberty of Mr Falconio’s girlfriend Joanne Lees, from Brighton.
Fidgeting and smiling throughout her brief testimony, Ms Allan barely glimpsed at Murdoch as he sat in the dock on the other side of the room, just yards away.
The Broome resident told the court she started to “become close” to Murdoch, a customer at the Broome mechanic shop where she worked, in October 2000.
“(The relationship had) no set pattern, no set days, very casual,” she said.
“Was it a happy relationship?,” Prosecutor Rex Wild, QC, asked.
"Not really, I don’t think. Not particularly, pretty one-sided on my part.”
Ms Allan told the court how Murdoch would regularly go on trips, including to South Australia, with his dog Jack in his Toyota landcruiser for a week or more at a time.
She recounted how, after one trip in mid-2001 – around the time Mr Falconio disappeared – Murdoch returned “fairly strung out“.
He had been away for about a week.
“He told me that it hadn’t been a good trip. (He’d had) a few dramas,” Ms Allan said.
“He believed someone was following him… that he had to find out who was following him and he had to deal with it.”
Murdoch, who did not explain further, also said he had to come home “the long way” because he’d run into a road block set up after the backpacker went missing.
Ms Allan said Murdoch was sick for about a week after returning from the trip, suffering from the flu.
“He wasn’t feeling very well, (he) had the flu,” she said.
“I gave him him a rub down and … some berocca,” Ms Allan said.
He had also changed his appearance by shaving off his moustache and cutting his hair, and then had work done to his Landcruiser including installing a new canopy.
“He was clean shaven, no moustache, (and) he had just shaved his head,” she said.
Ms Allan said she didn’t see much of Murdoch after July, and he left town around October, 2001.
At one stage, Murdoch told her he had some guns including a hand gun, but Ms Allan said she never saw the weapons.
Mr Falconio was believed to have been shot dead beside a remote section of the Outback Stuart Highway on the night of July 14, 2001 after stopping for a stranger. His body has never been found.
The hearing continues.