Wednesday 20 September 2017

Backpacker 'repeatedly raped and held captive' in Australian outback released from hospital

The SUV seized by police.
The SUV seized by police.

A 22-year-old British backpacker who was allegedly repeatedly raped and held captive in Australia has been released from hospital and is recovering with friends and family.

Queenland Police issued a statement to clarify that the alleged ordeal occured between February 3 and March 5 at various locations in Queensland.

"Police will allege the Manunda man met the woman on January 27 near Cairns and the offences occurred between February 3 and March 5 at various Queensland locations. An earlier statement indicated a different timeframe, however, this was incorrect information and has since been clarified," the police statement said.

A 22-year-old man faced Roma Magistrates Court on Monday after being charged with various offences. He has been remanded in custody and is due to reappear in court on May 23.

The 22-year-old woman was found with fractures to her face and strangulation marks to her neck on Sunday when police pulled over the vehicle she was driving in the outback in Queensland after she failed to pay at a petrol station.

She told officers she had been held captive by a man she had met at a party in Cairns.

He subsequently damaged and invalidated her passport, possibly to prevent her escape, Queensland Police said.

Officers believe they saved her life after arresting the suspect who was hiding under clothes in a small alcove in the rear of the vehicle.

Detective Inspector Paul Hart told a press conference on Tuesday: "Police were really just attending a routine job in relation to a driver that was unable to pay for petrol."

But they noticed she had various injuries and was "overly alarmed" by the officers' presence when they pulled her over in Warrego Highway, Mitchell, around 300 miles from the east coast city of Brisbane.

"She advised that over a period of weeks she had been held against her will by the male person located in the vehicle," the officer said.

"It was established they had previously had a relationship but at some point it had soured and he basically deprived her of her liberty and committed a number of offences against her as they travelled around the state.

"What she has experienced is no doubt horrific and terrifying and we commend her for taking the opportunity to speak to our police.

"We have potentially saved this young girl's life. Given what's happened to her, the extent of what's happened over the period of time, anything might have transpired."

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