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An inquest into the disappearance of a pensioner from a tiny Northern Territory town has heard evidence of links to the murder of British backpacker Peter Falconio.

Paddy Moriarty was last seen at Larrimah – population about 11 – some 500km south-east of Darwin following an afternoon on the drink.

The 70-year-old was known as a creature of habit in the Outback community where if regulars did not turn up at the local pub the licensee would call police. 

Irish-born Mr Moriarty walked out of the Pink Panther Hotel at dusk on December 16, 2017, got onto his red quad bike with his kelpie Kellie and neither has been seen since. 

It has been alleged a neighbour was later recorded singing: ‘I killerated old Paddy I f***ing killerated him… struck him on the head and killerated him… ‘  

An inquest into the disappearance of pensioner Paddy Moriarty from the tiny Northern Territory town of Larrimah in 2017 has heard evidence referring to the murder of British backpacker Peter Falconio in 2001. Mr Falconio is pictured with his girlfriend Joanne Lees

An inquest into the disappearance of pensioner Paddy Moriarty from the tiny Northern Territory town of Larrimah in 2017 has heard evidence referring to the murder of British backpacker Peter Falconio in 2001. Mr Falconio is pictured with his girlfriend Joanne Lees

An inquest into the disappearance of pensioner Paddy Moriarty from the tiny Northern Territory town of Larrimah in 2017 has heard evidence referring to the murder of British backpacker Peter Falconio in 2001. Mr Falconio is pictured with his girlfriend Joanne Lees

Paddy Moriarty (pictured) walked out of the Larrimah hotel about five hours' drive south of Darwin at dusk on December 16, 2017. He got onto his red quad bike with his kelpie cross Kellie and was never seen again. Police fear the 70-year-old Irish-born stockman met with foul play

Paddy Moriarty (pictured) walked out of the Larrimah hotel about five hours' drive south of Darwin at dusk on December 16, 2017. He got onto his red quad bike with his kelpie cross Kellie and was never seen again. Police fear the 70-year-old Irish-born stockman met with foul play

Paddy Moriarty (pictured) walked out of the Larrimah hotel about five hours’ drive south of Darwin at dusk on December 16, 2017. He got onto his red quad bike with his kelpie cross Kellie and was never seen again. Police fear the 70-year-old Irish-born stockman met with foul play

An inquest into Mr Moriarty’s fate heard from most of the townspeople in 2018 and has resumed this week at Katherine Local Court.

That inquest has now heard of uncorroborated links between Mr Moriarty’s disappearance and the 2001 murder of Mr Falconio, who was travelling through the Outback with his girlfriend Joanne Lees. 

Much speculation has surrounded Mr Moriarty’s decade-long dispute with Larrimah pie shop owner Fran Hodgetts, who blamed the retired stockman for poisoning her plants.

Ms Hodgetts has always denied any role in Mr Moriarty’s disappearance. 

On Wednesday, witness Wayne Ledwidge gave evidence about a conversation he said he overheard between a wheelchair-bound man called Brian Roberts and Ms Hodgetts.

Mr Ledwidge claimed he and Mr Roberts had been neighbours at Katherine, 180km north west of Larrimah, in 2017 before Mr Moriarty disappeared, according to The Australian.

Paddy Moriarty drank every day at the Larrimah Hotel, also known as the Wayside Inn and the Pink Panther. He would down eight cans of XXXX Gold beer then ride the 200 metres home

Paddy Moriarty drank every day at the Larrimah Hotel, also known as the Wayside Inn and the Pink Panther. He would down eight cans of XXXX Gold beer then ride the 200 metres home

Paddy Moriarty drank every day at the Larrimah Hotel, also known as the Wayside Inn and the Pink Panther. He would down eight cans of XXXX Gold beer then ride the 200 metres home

Paddy Moriarty left his hat (pictured), keys, cash and cards behind at his home, items friends said he would never go out without.  Mr Moriarty's house was just 200 metres from the local pub

Paddy Moriarty left his hat (pictured), keys, cash and cards behind at his home, items friends said he would never go out without.  Mr Moriarty's house was just 200 metres from the local pub

Paddy Moriarty left his hat (pictured), keys, cash and cards behind at his home, items friends said he would never go out without.  Mr Moriarty’s house was just 200 metres from the local pub

He said the pair had gone to the Katherine Motor Vehicle Registry one day and Mr Roberts had been approached by a woman he now believed was Ms Hodgetts.

Mr Ledwidge said Ms Hodgetts told Mr Roberts she wanted to ‘get rid of’ someone and was prepared to pay $10,000.

‘She was very loud, abrupt, and said to Brian, “That bastard is still giving me a hard time – I need to get rid of him”,’ Mr Ledwidge told the court.

‘I asked Brian who the old lady was and he said Fran from the pie shop.’ 

Ms Hodgetts has said she did not know Mr Roberts, who is now dead, and denied any such encounter took place. 

‘I never ever ever ever paid anyone to bump Paddy off,’ she told the court on Wednesday. ‘I swear on my mother and father’s grave, I don’t know him and I never said that.’ 

A $250,000 reward for information about Mr Moriarty's disappearance has not led to anyone being arrested. Mr Moriarty was last seen wearing a singlet, shorts and thongs

A $250,000 reward for information about Mr Moriarty's disappearance has not led to anyone being arrested. Mr Moriarty was last seen wearing a singlet, shorts and thongs

 A $250,000 reward for information about Mr Moriarty’s disappearance has not led to anyone being arrested. Mr Moriarty was last seen wearing a singlet, shorts and thongs

The alleged conversation had not initially troubled Mr Ledwidge but he contacted police after he saw a missing person sign for Mr Moriarty in Larrimah in 2019.

Mr Ledwidge told the court he did not know Mr Roberts as someone who ‘takes people out’ but had heard him yell at the television during a news story about Mr Moriarty’s disappearance.

He was also aware that Mr Roberts’s stepson was at one time a suspect in the murder of Mr Falconio, according to The Australian.

Mr Falconio was travelling with Ms Lees on the Stuart Highway near Barrow Creek, 700km south of Larrimah, on July 14, 2001 when he disappeared. 

Ms Lees said the pair had been flagged down in their Kombi van by a man who had followed them from a roadhouse in his Toyota ute.

The man claimed he had seen sparks shooting out of the van’s exhaust and went to the rear of the vehicle with Mr Falconio to investigate.

Peter Falconio was travelling with girlfriend Joanne Lees on the Stuart Highway near Barrow Creek, 700km south of Larrimah, on July 14, 2001 when he disappeared. The couple is pictured in their Kombi van

Peter Falconio was travelling with girlfriend Joanne Lees on the Stuart Highway near Barrow Creek, 700km south of Larrimah, on July 14, 2001 when he disappeared. The couple is pictured in their Kombi van

Peter Falconio was travelling with girlfriend Joanne Lees on the Stuart Highway near Barrow Creek, 700km south of Larrimah, on July 14, 2001 when he disappeared. The couple is pictured in their Kombi van

Ms Lees heard a loud bang and moments later the man climbed into the Kombi with a handgun and tied her hands behind her back. She was dragged to the Toyota but managed to flee into the bush and escape.

Bradley John Murdoch 9above) who was convicted of Peter Falconio's murder in 2005

Bradley John Murdoch 9above) who was convicted of Peter Falconio's murder in 2005

Bradley John Murdoch 9above) who was convicted of Peter Falconio’s murder in 2005

Mr Falconio’s body was never located but Ms Lees identified her attacker as drug runner Bradley John Murdoch, who had been captured at the roadhouse in CCTV footage. 

Murdoch, who maintained his innocence, was found guilty in 2005 of murdering Mr Falconio and attacking Ms Lees. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a non-parole period of 28 years.

Mr Ledwidge said he had heard Mr Roberts yelling at the television when stories about Murdoch were screened.

‘He started yelling saying, “He didn’t do it”,’ Mr Ledwidge told the court. ‘He didn’t do it, you have got the wrong man… he’s buried under the tree.’

The court heard there was nothing to support Mr Roberts being involved in the Falconio case. 

Owen Laurie, a onetime tent boxer, had shared a property with Ms Hodgetts across the road from Mr Moriarty after she hired him to do some gardening. 

Mr Laurie, who also denied knowing Mr Roberts, admitted having a verbal altercation with Mr Moriarty about his dog three days before he went missing. 

Larrimah, on the Stuart Highway, is about 500 kilometres south-east of Darwin and about 180 kilometres south-east of the municipal seat of Katherine

Larrimah, on the Stuart Highway, is about 500 kilometres south-east of Darwin and about 180 kilometres south-east of the municipal seat of Katherine

Larrimah, on the Stuart Highway, is about 500 kilometres south-east of Darwin and about 180 kilometres south-east of the municipal seat of Katherine

The court has heard a listening device was placed inside Mr Laurie’s bungalow about two weeks after Mr Moriarty disappeared.

Police say Mr Laurie was recorded singing to himself: “F***king idiots, yeah, tell them what I’ve done, hit with a f***ing hammer, tell them how I hit you with a f***ing hammer.’

In another recording, Mr Laurie allegedly said: ‘Well, they didn’t f***ing find the hammer, well they can’t get me for anything’, according to the ABC.

A third recording allegedly captured Mr Laurie singing: “I killerated old Paddy I f***ing killerated him… struck him on the head and killerated him … basherated him, doof, yes he did, basherated him.’  

Mr Laurie has denied making the comments or having had any involvement in Mr Moriarty’s disappearance.

While pie shop owner Fran Hodgetts (pictured) admitted to animosity between her and Paddy Moriarty, she has consistently maintained that she had nothing to do with his disappearance

While pie shop owner Fran Hodgetts (pictured) admitted to animosity between her and Paddy Moriarty, she has consistently maintained that she had nothing to do with his disappearance

While pie shop owner Fran Hodgetts (pictured) admitted to animosity between her and Paddy Moriarty, she has consistently maintained that she had nothing to do with his disappearance

Mr Moriarty was last seen wearing a singlet, dark shorts, silver watch and black thongs. 

Detective Sergeant Matt Allen took charge of an investigation which faced logistical challenges including the town’s extreme remoteness from the start. 

There was no CCTV, no mobile phone coverage and no other useful modern technology.

A forensic team sent from Darwin on Christmas Eve, nine days after Mr Moriarty’s last trip to the pub, searched his home, his yard and his Toyota HiLux.

His reading glasses were still on a table, Kellie had food in her bowl and Mr Moriarty’s hat, cash and cards were still inside his house. 

A three-day search using motorbikes and a helicopter began on December 28 and covered 85 square kilometres but revealed nothing. 

A search of Paddy Moriarty's home (pictured) in Larrimah revealed no signs he had intended to go away. His cash and cards were still in the house and his reading glasses were on a table

A search of Paddy Moriarty's home (pictured) in Larrimah revealed no signs he had intended to go away. His cash and cards were still in the house and his reading glasses were on a table

A search of Paddy Moriarty’s home (pictured) in Larrimah revealed no signs he had intended to go away. His cash and cards were still in the house and his reading glasses were on a table 

The local tip, which was about a kilometre from Mr Moriarty’s house, was picked apart in January and again nothing useful turned up. 

Police found no evidence of a road accident, no sign Mr Moriarty and Kellie had been taken by wild dogs or pigs and no sinkholes that contained a body.

One of the strongest indicators Mr Moriarty had met with foul play was a cooked Woolworths chicken in a bag dated December 16 which was found in his microwave. 

The chook had been bought by a tourist and given to Mr Moriarty the last evening he was seen at the pub.

A $250,000 reward for information about Mr Moriarty’s disappearance has not led to anyone being arrested.  

Paddy Moriarty's home (pictured) had not  been disturbed.  Police found no evidence of a road accident, no sign Paddy had been taken by wild pigs and no sinkholes that contained a body

Paddy Moriarty's home (pictured) had not  been disturbed.  Police found no evidence of a road accident, no sign Paddy had been taken by wild pigs and no sinkholes that contained a body

Paddy Moriarty’s home (pictured) had not  been disturbed.  Police found no evidence of a road accident, no sign Paddy had been taken by wild pigs and no sinkholes that contained a body

Source: DailyMail

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