Blood Territory: a murder, a podcast and … endings

What is this about?: This is an investigation into Jim O’Connell’s death in the Northern Territory, an event that came to journalist Mark Whittaker’s attention because O’Connell’s parents believed so strongly in the man who was convicted of killing him. 

What else is this about?: This is a mystery and a search for the truth with unexpected results. 


Please note: this series contains mature themes and graphic imagery; and listener discretion is advised.

How far would you go to clear the name of the man convicted of your son’s death?

Red blood stains the red soil of the Australian Northern Territory in this true crime Audible Original Podcast, Blood Territory.

Less than 250,000 people live in the Northern Territory, an area more than twice the size of Texas. If you want to escape from civilisation, you don’t have to go far. But you can’t outrun the heat. Every year during October and November the sweltering climate can drive people wild; they call it ‘Suicide Season’, ‘Mango Madness’ or, more plainly, ‘The Build-up’.

It’s during this blistering heat that Jim O’Connell’s body is found in a creek bed, mummified and with his genitals removed. But when a dubious plea deal buries the truth and puts Jim’s best mate, Philip Mather, behind bars for the crime, the victim’s parents seek to unravel it themselves to prove Philip’s innocence.

Follow journalist Mark Whittaker’s journey into the murky heart of the Northern Territory as allegations of police corruption and judicial racism emerge and a shadowy figure known as The Vigilante lurks on the fringe of the investigation.

This is an Audible Original Podcast. Free for members. You can download all 10 episodes to your Library now.

Blood Territory pulls no punches in the telling of Jim O’Connell’s death. Take heed of the warning of the graphic imagery if you decide to listen to this from Audible.

It’s not often — or ever — that the parents of a murder victim would believe so wholeheartedly in the innocence of the man accused of killing their son, but that is exactly what happened  in the Northern Territory — Jim and Trudy O’Connell firmly believe that Philip Mather did not kill their son. Philip pleaded guilty to the murder, and served 11 years because, as he has stated, he did not want to spend the rest of his life in prison. 

Mark Whittaker takes up this case after hearing about it from his friend, another respected journalist, who believed in Philip’s innocence. 

Whittaker takes listeners methodically through the case — through the witnesses, their statements, the evidence, the police involved in the investigation and even directly to Philip himself, who has since been released. The thing that stuck with me most is  Trudy and Jim who are clearly grieving their son, and still believe in Philip’s innocence. 

It’s emotional stuff, and I felt for Trudy and Jim for what they had to experience — and still are in some ways. Whitaker also does not hold back on Jim’s life or death, or his relationship with Philip.

The end of Whitaker’s investigation was unexpected and forced me to examine what i wanted (expected?) to hear at the end of the show. It’s hard to say more, bc spoilers, but I found this to be a thoughtful, detailed examination of a horrible event that affected so many lives. Whitaker is compassionate, but resolute in his findings.


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