Australia

UK tourist in Australia 'rape ordeal' out of hospital

The suspect's vehicle Image copyright APN Western Star via AP
Image caption Police found the suspect in the back of a 4x4 vehicle

A UK backpacker who was allegedly held captive and repeatedly raped in Australia is being comforted by family members, police have said.

The 22-year-old woman, from Liverpool, has been discharged from hospital, Queensland Police confirmed.

An Australian man, 22, is facing 23 charges over the alleged ordeal that ended on Sunday.

Police on Wednesday said the attacks took place over a one-month period, not two months as alleged earlier.

They say the assaults happened between 3 February and 5 March on a road trip stretching from Cairns, in Far North Queensland, across the state's outback.

It ended when officers stopped the pair's 4x4 more than 1,000km (620 miles) south at Mitchell, after a service station reported they failed to pay for petrol.

In a brief statement on Wednesday, police said the woman had been released from hospital into the care of friends and family.

They also said the pair met at a Cairns party on 27 January, clarifying wrong information that it was three months ago.

Detective Inspector Paul Hart on Tuesday said the pair began a relationship but "at some point that had soured". She was then subjected to a "horrific and terrifying" experience, he said.

He said she had suffered facial fractures, bruising, abrasions to her neck and cuts to her body, as well as psychological injuries.

Tears at service station

The accused man, from Cairns, is facing charges including four counts of rape, eight counts of assault and four counts of strangulation.

He is also charged with two counts of deprivation of liberty, causing wilful damage, possessing drugs and drug equipment and obstructing police.

The man appeared to be "hiding from police" in the back of the vehicle when he was arrested, Mr Hart said.

Police had stopped the 4x4 after receiving a call from a service station owner in Mitchell.

"She pulled up and fuelled up and then when she came in, she couldn't pay for her fuel," the owner, Beverley Page, told the Courier Mail.

"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," she said, adding the woman then drove off.

State in shock

Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad described the allegations as "absolutely horrific".

"I want people to understand that Queensland is a safe place and these sorts of things are the exception," she said on Wednesday.

"We want to make sure that violence against women, these sorts of crimes, are completely unacceptable."

The accused man was refused bail on Monday and will go before the courts again on 23 May.

Neither the man or the victim can be named for legal reasons, Queensland's Department of Justice said.

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