British backpacker kidnapped and raped in Australia: everything we know about the suspected attacker

Jonathan Pearlman
A four-wheel drive vehicle is parked at the police station in Roma, Australia - AP

The man who allegedly kidnapped and raped a British backpacker during a brutal road trip in Australia was a lean, tattooed 22-year-old who apparently had previous brushes with the law.

He was from the quiet, leafy suburb of Manunda in the north-east coastal city of Cairns, where their awful journey began.

The pair met at a summer dance party in January in bushland near Cairns. He was reportedly a regular drug-taker and allegedly had a small amount of MDMA, or ecstasy, and a pipe, when he was arrested.

Brisbane attack - Credit: @9NewsBrisbane

The Telegraph has learnt that the man, who has not been named for legal reasons, spent six months in prison in 2013 for a drug-fuelled attack in 2012, in which he ordered a pizza delivery and then attacked the driver and stole the pizza and less than $AUS20.

He had been partying with three friends in Cairns – taking LSD and alcohol during a housewarming party that had lasted three days – when they decided to “roll”, or rob, a pizza delivery driver. But it was the suspect – apparently to the surprise of his friends – who violently assaulted the man, taking a plank of wood and hitting the driver on the back of the head.

The Telegraph understands that the man, whose Facebook page says he was born in New Zealand, had also been charged with a previous offence in Cairns as a sixteen-year-old.

He seems to have disappeared from Cairns after his prison stint and headed to Sydney, but turned up again in his home town late last year. Friends believed he had no job and were surprised to see him driving around the city in a four-wheel-drive Mitsubishi Pajero – which later became the vehicle in which he allegedly kidnapped and assaulted the 22-year-old Briton.  

A friend of the suspect said he had problems with drugs and “has a ton of anger stuck in his head”.

He had lost numerous friends over the years due to his erratic behaviour but his few remaining friends in Cairns saw him about town in recent weeks and believed he was in good spirits.  

Map of British backpackers journey

He is not known to have had a job but claimed to want to end the road trip in the tiny outback town of Charleville, where he said he had lined up work.

He is now being held in a cell in the inland city of Toowoomba. He was assigned a court lawyer during an initial hearing on Monday and appeared via video link from his cell. He applied for bail, which was refused.

A friend of  the backpacker said the alleged kidnapper had become obsessed with the woman and  changed his Facebook profile to 'married' shortly after meeting her.

The friend said: “He was really clingy it was like he just blew in to town and latched on to the first single girl,' he claimed.

“When he changed his relationship status on Facebook I thought it was too fast - she never changed hers.” A spokeswoman for the British High Commission said: "We are supporting a British woman following an incident in Queensland and remain in contact with local authorities."

Recent backpacker attacks | In Australia and New Zealand

 

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