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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

December 14, 2005

Dingoes Ate My Boyfriend - the aftermath

There are two things you can be certain of in high-profile murder cases.

The first is that the sobbing relative at the press conference is probably the chief suspect, and that the police have encouraged them to make "an appeal to the media" in order to watch their reactions.

The second is that, following a guilty verdict, you will find out all the things the jury weren't allowed to know, all of which confirm the guilt of the suspect, and it becomes gobsmackingly obvious what a huge risk a "fair trial" can be.

Wild generalisations, I know, but that's the subtitle of this blog. Sort of.

As Marie said in the comments the other day, and as Leesa agrees, the media had it in for Joanne Lees from the beginning, because she didn't play their game. They hated her because she was too savvy. Too savvy to weep on demand, too aware of the prurient interest in her b r e a s t s to pose for photographs like the good grieving girlfriend.

The first thing to nail is that tabloid journalists, on the whole, know nothing about the behaviour of people who have really been traumatised. Those of them who are still arguing that Lees' behaviour was "weird" are just fucking stupid. People's reactions to grief and or trauma cover a wide spectrum, from numb to head-banging hysteria. Nothing is "normal" and nothing is "weird."

I would love for some of them to be put in real fear for their lives for a few hours and see how they react and how many details they remember afterwards. To be a little selfish for a moment, I had a very scary accident on the motorway a couple of weeks ago - a 65mph tail spin caused by a truck pulling into my lane and nudging me - and only blind luck saw me end up, relatively safe, on the hard shoulder. But I didn't weep, fall apart, or take a week off sick. You might think me totally unaffected, but - for example - my legs turned to jelly yesterday when I was overtaking a lorry and it started to signal to pull out into my lane. I still get in a car every day and drive to work, because I know that if I gave into the fear I've been feeling, my life would be fucked.

So Joanne Lees held herself together, and because she didn't put on an act for the media, some of them decided to smear her good name. The person who has murdered a family member and hopes to get away with it will step forward and appeal for help to find the missing one. Lees, on the other hand, must have known from quite early on that Falconio was dead, and that no appeal would bring him back. The only questions she would answer concerned her opinion that the media were bang out of order with all their innuendo.

Last night on 5Live, I heard one of the writers of the (5 so far) forthcoming books continuing to imply that there were inconsistencies in her story, and that - even after the verdict - people would still wonder what really happened.

This came even as we learned that Murdoch had - almost certainly - abducted another girl using similar methods, had a huge collection of firearms and ammunition, a collection of press cuttings on the case, had been telling people - before he was arrested - that he was being framed for the murder, and had changed his appearance and been hiding out in some shotgun shack for 6 months in an attempt to avoid arrest. He had full access to all the police evidence and a laptop computer in order to prepare his defence - and the jury still took just 8 hours (after 8 weeks and 85 witnesses) to find him guilty.

These are the details you learn later, when you realise that the evidence heard in court was the tip of the iceberg. This is the bit I knew was coming. Here's a good colour piece from the Austrlian, which gives some of the flavour.

At the trial, evidence was heard from people who testified that Murdoch had mentioned having to "get rid" of someone who was following him; that he'd discussed the best way to dispose of a body; that he had indeed taken steps to change his appearance. When he was arrested for the alleged rape of a 12 year old girl, police found home-made cuffs made from cable ties - exactly the same as those Lees was wearing when she was picked up by the rescuing road train driver. A lot of the evidence was thrown out by the judge in the interest of a fair trial. Still, Murdoch kept meticulous notes throughout on the judge's behaviour: already preparing for his appeal, knowing he would be found guilty.

And still the writers who have a vested interest in selling their books come forward with the innuendo. Is it a surprise that Joanne Lees is sketchy on the details of what happened? She had a gun in her face, it was dark, she couldn't see her boyfriend, and she thought she was going to be raped or killed. And she can't remember how she ended up in the back of the truck? Dear me. And you know what? I can't remember how I got from the middle lane to the hard shoulder, or how I managed to stop the car.


  • You are correct. Apparently, the only correct reaction to any kind of trauma is to burst into tears, preferably facing the camera and preferably praying a little too.

    I know someone whose husband was killed in a hit and run 9 years ago and she took the news like a statue, but has never smiled or laughed since.

    Luckily the jury was made up of a few people with either brains or common sense. A couple of books no doubt will raise the "lingering concerns" issue, to try and sell a few more copies.

    Lindy Chamberlain also did not grieve in the approved manner, and look what happened to her. Well done jury.

    By Anonymous Babson, at 11:21 pm  

  • thanks for the comment, babson.

    I think the tide is turning for Joanne Lees now, though I thought her statement at the sentencing hearing was very poignant: "It's very lonely being me."

    By all accounts she was always a quiet girl who came into her own on the trip to Australia, coming out of her shell and becoming more outgoing and happy. But then it happened, and she's back in her lonely life.

    By Blogger bot37363838, at 4:55 am  

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