What is being described as a hook-up gone horrifically wrong has ended with the rescue of a 22-year-old British backpacker in Australia after two months in brutal captivity.
The unnamed woman reportedly met her would-be captor, also unnamed in accordance with Australian privacy laws, at a “bush doof” outdoor dance party in Cairns on the Queensland coast two months ago. According to the backpacker’s friends interviewed by the British press, the two decided to go on a road trip through the Australian outback and left in the assailant’s white Mitsubishi Pajero around January 2.
Then things went terribly wrong.
According to local media outlets, the man then spent the next two months raping, beating and strangling her, and keeping her captive as they drove 1,360 kilometers through the Australian outback.
Local authorities have charged the man with four counts of rape, eight counts of assault, four counts of strangulation and two counts of deprivation of liberty, according to Detective Inspector Paul Hart in a televised press briefing. They say the man will also face drug charges.
The woman was rescued after driving away from a gas station without paying for fuel on Sunday afternoon. Local CCTV tape caught a glimpse of the woman in the gas station, crying with her face covered with bruises, pleading with the gas station attendant that she could not pay for the gas. A few minutes later, she drove off and the concerned gas station attendant followed her, according to The Daily Mail whose local reporter interviewed the attendant.
The attendant was then able to flag down a local police officer who made the stop. “She had two black eyes and marks down the side of her neck,” according to the Daily Mail reporter’s interview with the attendant. “She was crying. She was shaking uncontrollably. She had only just come in here and she couldn't pay for the fuel. I was very concerned about her, but I didn't expect her to just walk out, get in the vehicle and drive off. It was as well that she did. If she had been able to pay for the fuel I might not have interfered with her life and she would have gone off and who knows?”
The backpacker was seemingly alone in the car, though police were suspicious. After searching the car, they found the suspect hidden under clothing and luggage in the back of the car.
“We would certainly say that what’s happened to this young lady is quite catastrophic,” Detective Hart told reporters. “We will allege that the male person was secreted in the back section of the vehicle which made it quite difficult to find him.”
The woman, who is now in hospital recovering from injuries that include facial fractures, had been traveling around Australia since 2015, according to her friends interviewed by the British press. Immediately after she met the man, whom her friends described as a “clingy” man who “never left her side,” he changed his Facebook status to “married.”
A week later, the two were on what was clearly a honeymoon from hell for the backpacker.