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Alleged backpacker hostage had already been to hospital

The young British backpacker who was allegedly held against her will in Queensland.
The young British backpacker who was allegedly held against her will in Queensland.

A BRITISH backpacker allegedly repeatedly raped, held against her will and taken on a 1500km outback journey went to hospital with serious facial injuries in the lead-up to the ill-fated road trip.

The Courier-Mail can reveal the backpacker, 22, went to Cairns Hospital with a wound to her eyebrow, which required stitches.

It is understood hospital staff queried the alleged assault with her - including if it was related to domestic violence - however she left.

Days later officers found the terrified backpacker at the wheel of a Pajero 1500km away on the Warrego Highway, near Mitchell, in the state's west.

She had facial fractures, scratches, bruising and marks across her neck.

The revelation comes as police continue to investigate her alleged attacker, a 22-year-old man, and the reasons why he left Cairns with her last week.

He has been charged with four counts of rape, eight counts of assault occasioning bodily harm, four counts of strangulation, two counts of wilful damage, two counts of deprivation of liberty, one count of possess dangerous drugs, one count of possess drug utensils and one count of obstruct police.

One of the alleged assaults is in relation to the injury to the backpacker's eyebrow.

A service station owner has described how the backpacker's fear raised alarm bells in Mitchell on Sunday.

"She pulled up and fuelled up and then when she came in, she couldn't pay for her fuel," said Beverley Page, from the Caltex service station in Mitchell.

The British backpacker was repeatedly raped, held against her will for two months, and endured a nightmare 1500km journey through the outback in a four-wheel-drive before being saved by police, detectives allege.

Mitchell Service Station owner Beverley Page. Picture: Mark Calleja
Mitchell Service Station owner Beverley Page. Picture: Mark Calleja

"The girl was crying at the time and our person told her to just go outside and have another look for her wallet and take a deep breath and come back in." Ms Page said.

"When she was in the shop, she was crying and shaking the whole time - she was really upset.

"There were two marks on her neck, along with the black eyes."

After a while, the young woman came back in and said she had contacted her ex-boyfriend.

"I said, 'Is he the same one that has given you those black eyes?' " Ms Page said.

"And she said yes, so then I told her that we could ring the police for her."

She didn't want to, so Ms Page sent her back outside to get credit card details to pay for the fuel but the young woman got in the vehicle and drove off.

The servo owner followed in her car and reported the incident to a police vehicle parked up the street.

Police rescued the 22-year-old woman at Mitchell on Sunday after the white Pajero she was in was involved in the petrol drive-off.

Officers found the terrified backpacker at the wheel after stopping the car on the Warrego Highway.

Channel 7 news footage of young backpacker checking into the service station at Mitchell.
Channel 7 news footage of young backpacker checking into the service station at Mitchell.

She had facial fractures, scratches, bruising and marks across her neck.

After questioning the woman they found the man - accused of raping, bashing and strangling her - hiding at the back of a small alcove in the vehicle.

Detective Inspector Paul Hart said the woman was courageous to speak to ­officers and had been subjected to a "significant level of violence and catastrophic offences".

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

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says she's personally ensured the woman will get the best medical care.

Ms Palaszczuk said she the two-month ordeal had shocked the state.

"Thank goodness she is still alive," she said. "My main concern is to ensure that she is getting the care she needs but who could ever imagine something like that happening."

Channel 7 footage of the accused.
Channel 7 footage of the accused.

The backpacker, from Liverpool, met the man at a music festival in far north Queensland in late January but the relationship quickly soured, Insp Hart said.

The pair left Cairns last week and travelled to Gordonvale and Bowen in the state's north and on to Banana, Roma and Mitchell.

"They have formed some sort of relationship," Insp Hart said.

"By her account, that has soured to the point that while they were travelling around she has tried to leave but was held against her will.

"She has shown police a number of injuries she has sustained. As a result of speaking to her, she has disclosed she has been held against her will."

The alleged victim has been in Australia since 2015 and has worked on farms while also posting pictures from around the country, including in Sydney and the Gold Coast.

Her visa is understood to be due to expire soon.

A service station worker called police after the woman came into the station at Mitchell. Picture: Channel 7
A service station worker called police after the woman came into the station at Mitchell. Picture: Channel 7

A service station worker at Mitchell called police on Sunday after the woman filled the vehicle with petrol but told the attendant she could not pay.

The worker, who did not want to be named, said the young woman was crying, shaking and had black eyes.

"The boss thought the girl was running away from an abusive relationship," she said.

Insp Hart said the backpacker would not have known any of the areas she was taken to, which would have made it more difficult to escape.

"From our investigations it would seem as they have been living in that vehicle and we'll be alleging that they've travelled throughout different parts of the state, with her basically being told to take him to different locations," Insp Hart said.

"And throughout the course of that, there have been property type offences up and down the coast."

Police allege some charges relate to the early stages of their relationship.

They say the woman was held against her will inside a Cairns hotel room in February and one of the rape charges was on an unknown date between February 3 and February 28. The other three rape offences and the deprivation of liberty charge relate to their road trip between March 1 and 5.

"Obviously it is quite serious," said acting Sergeant David Harper, the arresting officer.

Police have also charged the man with drug offences after they allegedly seized a small amount of the drug MDMA and a pipe.

Sgt Harper said the backpacker was under care and police were in the process of applying for a domestic violence protection order.

She was taken to hospital after the ordeal and it is understood she may travel to Brisbane for further care.

Sgt Harper said Mitchell police officers had observed her injuries and demeanour and continued to investigate and ask her questions, before finding the man.

When questioned, the man told police they were driving to Charleville where he claimed he had a job ­interview.

The man told police he was sleeping in the back of the vehicle and gave officers "contradictory information".

He has been charged with four counts of rape, eight counts of assault occasioning bodily harm, four counts of strangulation, two counts of wilful damage, two counts of deprivation of liberty, one count of possess dangerous drugs, one count of possess drug utensils and one count of obstruct police.

Police also charged the man in relation to damaging the backpacker's passport.

He appeared in Roma Magistrates Court on Monday and was refused bail.

Topics:  backpacker editors picks hostage

News Corp Australia

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