A young British woman who police say was held captive and repeatedly raped, bashed and choked during a nightmare two-month road trip through Outback Queensland has been saved by a routine traffic stop.
The 22-year-old backpacker was rescued on Sunday afternoon when police pulled over a 4WD at Mitchell, about 600km west of Brisbane, and found the terrified and injured woman behind the wheel.
She had facial fractures, bruises and cuts, and when officers searched the vehicle, they found her alleged attacker hiding in a storage alcove in the back.
"We would certainly say that what's happened to this young lady is quite catastrophic," Detective Inspector Paul Hart told the ABC.
"When located 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 22-year-old man, from the Cairns suburb of Manunda, is facing more than 20 charges, including four counts of rape, eight counts of assault, four of strangulation, and two of deprivation of liberty. He's also facing drug charges.
He applied for bail but was refused when he faced a court in Roma yesterday. He is due to face court again on May 23.
Police say the pair met in Cairns and decided to embark on a road trip that quickly turned into a living nightmare for the backpacker.
"During the course of their travels throughout the state then a number of very serious offences have occurred," Hart said.
He said the woman's "very prolonged" ordeal had left her with physical and serious psychological injuries, and her mental health was a priority.
It's alleged she suffered a series of sustained attacks between January 2 and March 5 on a journey that stretched at least 1360km from Cairns south to the Outback town of Roma.
At 5pm local time on Sunday, police pulled over a 4WD on the Warrego Highway at Mitchell, just west of Roma, and immediately realised something was very wrong.
"It appears she was terrified and not able to hide that (from officers)," police told AAP today.
Investigators are still trying to piece together the pair's movements, including where they might have stopped.
AAP has sought comment from the British High Commission.
Recent attacks on tourists
- Tomorrow, a 60-year-old man will stand trial over an alleged sex attack on two female backpackers at a remote beach southeast of Adelaide. The man, who denies the charges including attempted murder and indecent assault, is accused of attacking the women at remote Salt Creek, in the Coorong National Park, in February last year.
- Last week, Queensland police revealed a 24-year-old Polish nanny, who was violently raped while working at Petrie north of Brisbane last November, was killed in a car crash back in her homeland. She died just days before a 28-year-old man was charged over the vicious attack in a council car park that saw her undergo facial surgery for injuries, including a broken nose.