A far north Queensland man faces multiple counts of rape and strangulation after being found hiding in a four-wheel drive being driven by his alleged victim, being held against her will for several weeks.
Queensland police said the 22-year-old British backpacker was behind the wheel of the vehicle, which was pulled over on the Warrego Highway at Mitchell, about 570 kilometres west of Brisbane, on Sunday afternoon.
Police said she was visibly distressed and had injuries to her face.
Staff at a service station at Mitchell told the ABC they contacted police after the woman pumped petrol into a car on Sunday but drove away without paying.
They said the woman appeared to have cuts and bruises on her face.
Police pulled over the four-wheel-drive a short time later.
A 22-year-old man from the Cairns suburb of Manunda was found hiding in a small alcove of the car.
Police said the pair met three months previously and the alleged offences occurred between January 2 and March 5 at various Queensland locations.
Detective Inspector Paul Hart said the pair had travelled extensively throughout Queensland.
“SHE DID MEET UP WITH THE ALLEGED OFFENDER WHILE UP NORTH SO THEY HAD SPENT SOME TIME TOGETHER, BUT SUBSEQUENTLY THAT HAD OBVIOUSLY SOURED,” DET INSP HART SAID.
“During the course of their travels throughout the state then a number of very serious offences have occurred.”
He said the alleged offender appeared to be “hiding from police”.
“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,” Detective Inspector Hart said.
He said the alleged victim was considering returning home.
“We would certainly say that what’s happened to this lady is quite catastrophic so there are numerous supports that are being put in place to help her out during through this period.”
The man 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.
The woman was treated for non life-threatening injuries including facial fractures, bruising and cuts to her body.
A spokesperson for the British High Commission said: “We are supporting a British woman following an incident in Queensland and remain in contact with the local authorities.”
The man appeared in Roma Magistrates Court on Monday where he was remanded in custody to reappear in court at a later date.