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01 March 2024

Brutal backpacker attacker jailed in Australia

Photo: AFP


A man who brutally attacked two female backpackers on a remote Australian beach will spend at least 17 years in jail with a judge Wednesday accusing him of damaging the country's reputation as a safe destination.

Roman Heinze was found guilty of six offences in March over the harrowing ordeal in which the 61-year-old tied up and sexually assaulted a Brazilian woman and beat her German friend with a hammer when she tried to intervene.

As she handed down the sentence for indecent assault, aggravated kidnapping and endangering life, Justice Trish Kelly said, "you have violent and obsessive sexual preoccupations for which you have amply demonstrated you're capable of acting out".

"In committing these crimes you have undermined yet again the reputation of this country as a safe, friendly and attractive destination for young backpackers from all over the world," she said, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported from the South Australian Supreme Court.

Heinze met the women through classifieds website Gumtree after they advertised for a ride from Adelaide to Melbourne.

In February last year the trio drove to the remote site of Salt Creek, east of Adelaide, and after setting up camp Heinze and the Brazilian woman went for a walk in nearby sand dunes, the court heard.

But he pulled out a knife and bound her wrists and ankles with rope, before cutting off her bikini and sexually assaulting her.

The German heard her friend scream and ran to help but was hit in the head four times with a hammer before Heinze drove his car into her.

Despite their ordeal, the women managed to escape and alerted nearby fishermen, who called police.

He was sentenced to 22 years and four months jail with a non-parole period of 17 years.

It emerged during the trial that Heinze had previously been convicted of indecently assaulting a women two years before the Salt Creek attack.

Australia is a popular destination for young backpackers, with around 600,000 touring the country every year.

They occasionally run into trouble, most recently a British woman who police in March alleged was repeatedly raped, beaten and choked during a two-month hostage ordeal.