British backpacker 'raped' during two-month hostage ordeal

Sharon Marris, News Reporter

A British backpacker who was allegedly raped and beaten during a two-month hostage ordeal in Australia has been rescued after a routine traffic stop by police.

Police spokesman Paul Hart said officers were called when a driver was unable to pay for petrol on Sunday.

They stopped a four-wheel drive vehicle on the Warrego Highway at Mitchell, about 350 miles from Brisbane.

The 22-year-old woman was at the wheel and police noticed she was injured and in distress.

Mr Hart said she "made certain disclosures to police" and, as a result, they searched the car, finding the 22-year-old man accused of attacking her hiding inside.

The woman, who has been in Australia since 2015, met her alleged attacker at a party in Cairns in January and is understood to have been in a relationship with him.

However, Mr Hart said "at some point this had soured and he had deprived her of her liberty and committed a number of offences against her as they travelled around the state".

The woman has now been in contact with family in the UK and has been treated for injuries including facial fractures, bruising and cuts to her body.

Mr Hart said: "What she has experienced is no doubt horrific and terrifying and we commend her for taking the opportunity to speak to our police out in Mitchell, from which this whole job has stemmed."

Police said the pair had travelled hundreds of miles around Queensland and, for at least some of the past two months, appeared to have been living in the vehicle.

He added: "It has taken great courage for our victim to provide the details she has."

The man appeared at court in the nearby town of Roma on Monday facing charges including rape, assault, strangulation and deprivation of liberty.

He is also accused of damaging the woman's passport, thought to be in an effort to stop her escaping, and of possessing dangerous drugs, drug utensils and obstructing police.

The offences are said to have been committed at various locations in Queensland between 2 January and 5 March.

It is not yet clear when the woman may be able to return to the UK but police said she does not need further medical treatment.

The British Foreign Office said it was "supporting a British woman following an incident in Queensland".

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