Joanne Lees regrets affair

Joanne Lees regrets having an affair during her "trip of a lifetime" which ended in tragedy when her boyfriend, Peter Falconio, was murdered in the Australian outback, but she refuses to be ashamed.

Ms Lees has spoken out about the 2001 murder of her partner, Mr Falconio, and her own narrow escape from his killer, Bradley John Murdoch, in a book entitled No Turning Back.

During court proceedings, it emerged that before Mr Falconio was killed, Ms Lees had had a brief affair with another English backpacker named Nick Reilly.

"Pete and I were a normal young couple. I loved him and he loved me. We were happy," Ms Lees said in Britain's The Times newspaper, which is serialising extracts from her book.

"Not all my memories are heart-warming, however."

Ms Lees, who was working at a bookshop in Sydney at the time, said she met Mr Reilly when a colleague brought him along on a night out.

After two months of flirting, Lees said "things went too far ... and I let it happen".

Ms Lees, who was 27 at the time, said she and Mr Reilly slept together twice and, looking back, she saw it as part of growing up and working out what she wanted.

"I obviously had no idea this would have such momentous ramifications and possibly jeopardise the hunt for Pete's murderer," she said.

"The defence counsel would use it as an attempt to discredit me during the committal hearing.

"The media picked up on this and turned it into a sensational story, which it did not deserve to become. I cringed at the time but I refuse to be ashamed or embarrassed about anything that I have done."

Family told

Ms Lees never told Mr Falconio about the affair, which she described as "a momentary madness", but she did feel compelled to tell his family.

Unable to face his parents with the news, she told Mr Falconio's brother, Paul, over the phone and asked him to tell the rest of the family on her behalf.

"I was determined that they would hear the details from me rather than in court or through any other source," she said.

"The fact that I had to expose Pete's family to unnecessary hurt caused me a great deal of stress and anxiety and I wouldn't be truthful if I didn't admit I was worried about what they would think of me."

Ms Lees said the affair was never mentioned between her and the family again.

"I've never been treated differently by any of the family since they found out," she said.

"If anything I feel closer to them."

Lees said she didn't know whether she would ever have told Peter Falconio: "What I do know is that any highs and lows that we would have had to face were violently taken away from us on July 14, 2001."

Mr Murdoch was convicted last December of Peter Falconio's murder and of assaulting Lees and depriving her of her liberty. He was given a mandatory life sentence.

He is set to appeal against his conviction and sentence on December 12.
Source AAP

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