2017-03-07 11:08:18 UTC
A British backpacker was allegedly raped, assaulted and choked
during a two-month hostage ordeal in Australia.
The woman, 22, was subjected to attacks in locations across the
vast state of Queensland, police say.
The ordeal ended on Sunday when police stopped a vehicle being
driven by the woman, after she failed to pay for petrol, and saw
she had face injuries.
An Australian man who appeared to be hiding was arrested in the
back of the vehicle, police said.
Detective Inspector Paul Hart told reporters that the woman had
gone through a "horrific and terrifying" experience , and that
officers "potentially saved this young girl's life".
What do police allege happened?
Authorities allege the pair met three months ago in Cairns, in
Far North Queensland, and began a relationship before agreeing
to go on a road trip.
Police say "at some point that [relationship] had soured" and
the woman was held against her will. It is alleged she was
repeatedly attacked between 2 January and 5 March.
She appeared distressed when the 4x4 was pulled over on a
routine stop on the Warrego Highway at Mitchell, more than
1,000km (620 miles) south of Cairns, police said.
Reports said she had stopped to pump petrol at a service
station, and fled without paying. Station staff then alerted a
nearby police car which gave chase and pulled over her vehicle.
Insp Hart said officers immediately detected something was wrong.
"She told police the perpetrator was actually hiding in the
vehicle," he said.
Police officers searched the vehicle and found the man at the
rear underneath clothing and other items, said Insp Hart.
The 22-year-old man, from Cairns, is facing charges including
four counts of rape, eight counts of assault occasioning bodily
harm, four counts of strangulation and two counts of deprivation
What support is the woman receiving?
Police said the victim was treated for injuries including facial
fractures, bruising, abrasions to her neck, and cuts to her body.
Insp Hart said the "very prolonged" ordeal had also left her
with psychological injuries. She appeared terrified when found,
"We would certainly say that what's happened to this lady is
quite catastrophic so there are numerous supports that are being
put in place to help her out during through this period," Insp
He described the woman as a tourist who had been in Australia
since 2015. She had not been reported missing.
Since Sunday, the woman had made contact with family in the UK
and friends in Australia.
"It has taken great courage for our victim in this instance to
provide the detail she has," Insp Hart said.
He said the woman would require a new passport because her
existing one had been damaged by her alleged attacker.
A British High Commission spokesperson said: "We are supporting
a British woman following an incident in Queensland, and remain
in contact with the local authorities."
What is the legal process?
The man is also facing charges of causing wilful damage,
possessing drugs and drug equipment, and obstructing police.
He faced the Roma Magistrates Court, about 80km from Mitchell,
The man was refused bail to face court again on 23 May,
according to Brisbane's Courier Mail.
Police have urged anyone with information to come forward.