Police: Major breakthrough in horrific backpacker assault


Howard Salkow

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The victim's vehicle was parked on the corner of Garrick and Mowbray Streets when the assault took place in the early hours of the morning. IMAGE: Newsport

Police today advised that a 24-year-old Port Douglas man has been arrested and charged for sexually assaulting an Italian backpacker in his van at the corner of Garrick and Mowbray streets on October 21 last year, in what is being described as a major breakthrough following extensive investigations.

The perpetrator has since been bailed under strict conditions and will appear in the Mossman Magistrates court on May 17.

Related coverage:
 Victim awakes to being sexually assaulted on Four Mile Beach

Sgt Damian Meadows, Officer-in-Charge, Port Douglas, said anyone else who was a victim of the man’s acts, must please come forward and advise police.

“This is something we want to clear up and for this reason we want people to come forward if they also experienced these assaults,” said Meadows.

In Newsport’s original story, the 26-year-old Italian backpacker, who has preferred to remain anonymous, said he was sleeping in his van (on October 21) along the esplanade in Port Douglas when he awoke to find a man touching his genitals.

The incident occurred between 3am and 4am, the same time as two more alleged offences along Four Mile Beach late last year. Newsport reported there had also been confirmed reports of a person loitering near Garrick Street and nearby caravan parks looking in vans and cars with a torch.

The Italian said at the time he was sleeping with the door open because it was hot.

“When I woke up, a man had his hands inside my underwear. Once I realised what was happening I tried to chase after him. He was wearing all black or dark clothing, and either a black cap or hood,” he said at the time.

Meadows said the laid back lifestyle of tropical Port Douglas often lulled people into a false sense of security, but again urged the community to remain vigilant and report any strange behaviour of this kind to police.

“This has been a painstaking investigation and following a number of lines of enquiry, the evidence we had led us to the man who was arrested,” said Meadows.

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