Trial begins of man accused in Australian backpacker attacks

ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) " Two backpackers were subjected to a terrifying ordeal on a remote Australian beach, where a man sexually assaulted one of the women before beating her friend in the head with a hammer and repeatedly ramming her with his four-wheel drive as she tried to flee for help, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Grim details of the attack emerged in South Australia's Supreme Court on the opening day of the trial of a 60-year-old man charged in the 2016 assault. The man, whose name has been suppressed by a court order, has pleaded not guilty to a series of charges including attempted murder, kidnapping and assault.

Prosecutor James Pearce said the man connected with the women, who are from Brazil and Germany, on a classified advertising website, where one of the women had been looking for a ride to the city of Melbourne.

He drove them to an isolated beach in the Coorong National Park in South Australia, where they set up camp, Pearce said. When one of the women fell asleep in the car, he suggested the other talk a walk with him to look for kangaroos.

After they were away from the car, Pearce said, the man threw the woman to the ground, tied her up, cut off her bikini with a knife and sexually assaulted her.

In a bid to survive, the woman tried to reason with him, and suggested they go back to the tent, Pearce said. The man agreed and adjusted the ties binding her so she could walk. The woman then screamed for help, waking up her friend, whom she told to run.

The man then attacked the woman who had been in the car, striking her several times in the head with a hammer, Pearce said. Despite blood streaming into her eyes, she fled across the sand on foot. The man then got into the four-wheel drive and chased after her, hitting her with the car and knocking her to the ground several times.

Realizing she couldn't outrun the vehicle, she then jumped onto the roof of the car and hung onto the roof racks as the man tried to fling her off, Pearce said.

The women eventually managed to escape.

There have been a string of high-profile attacks on foreign tourists in Australia in recent years. On Sunday, a British backpacker who officials say had been sexually assaulted and held captive for weeks in the Outback was rescued by police who pulled over the car she was driving.

The officers noticed the woman had facial injuries and appeared distressed, and subsequently found a man hiding in a storage alcove in the back of the vehicle. He has been charged with a string of offenses, including multiple counts of rape and strangulation.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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