A Brazilian woman has told a court of the moment the Salt Creek accused attacked, bound and sexually assaulted her, comparing the experience to “a horror movie”.
The woman, whose identity is suppressed, told a Supreme Court jury she was attacked from behind by the man she had trusted to drive her from Adelaide to Melbourne.
She said that, as he stabbed a knife into the sand and bound her hands and feet with precut lengths of nylon cord, she focused on survival – and escape.
“When you see a movie with a victim, with someone running away, you think ‘that girl, she must do this, she must run away like this’,” she said.
“I was feeling I was in the horror movies … I needed a strategy to get away … I was trying to plan a strategy and thought that, if I stayed there, I was going to die.
“I imagined my Mum coming there and seeing my dead body, coming to recognise my body.
“I thought ‘no, I cannot do this, I’m not going to die today, I came to Australia, I came to live my dream, I’m going to do something and I’m going to get away from here.”
The man, 60, whose identity is suppressed, has pleaded not guilty to one count each of aggravated kidnapping, indecent assault and causing harm with intent to do so.
He has further denied counts of attempted murder, aggravated causing serious harm with intent to do so, endangering life and aggravated assault.
Prosecutors allege that, on February 9 last year, he attacked two backpackers – one Brazilian, the other German – at an isolated spot on the Coorong.
The duo had travelled to the spot with the man as part of a ride-share to Melbourne that had been arranged online.
Prosecutors allege the Brazilian’s clothes were cut from her body with a knife before she was bound and sexually assaulted.
They further allege the German was struck four times in the head with a hammer and repeatedly “mowed down” by the man’s vehicle.
On Wednesday, the Brazilian said that she started her 20-day Australian holiday in Adelaide.
While here, she met the German woman who was to join her on the allegedly ill-fated trip to Salt Creek.
At the suggestion of another friend, the Brazilian advertised for a travel partner on the Gumtree website.
She received several offers, including one from the accused.
She decided to go with someone she had met face-to-face, but that offer fell through due to car troubles.
The woman then contacted the accused, who had offered tents and sleeping bags, and asked him to take her and the German woman.
She said the group arranged to meet at the Mawson Lakes railway station.
“When I saw him, it was a bit weird … he was a bit older than I was expecting,” she said.
“I had been travelling a lot using this app, when I meet people they are maximum 30.”
She told the court he was “quiet” when they met and “most of the time really focused on driving”.
Upon the group’s arrival at Salt Creek, they noticed another four-wheel drive was parked near the gate to the beach.
“I remember (the accused) said ’ah, let’s keep driving a little bit’ and I thought ‘that’s normal, when you go to camp you want a little bit of privacy,” she said.
But when he stopped just a few minutes later, she said, she found that “a bit weird”.
“I remember asking him ‘are we going to camp here?’ and he said ‘yes’,” she said.
“I thought ‘he said no before and now he says yes, is everything okay?’.”
The Brazilian said that, after they made camp, the man went to set up his fishing rods as she changed into her bikini between the tents.
“I was thinking it was a bit weird to be in the middle of nowhere with people who were not really my friends,” she said.
“It wasn’t exactly what I had planned but it was okay-ish.
“Then (the German) raised a question ‘don’t you think it was a bit weird?’.”
She said the man returned, and she shared some wine with him, before the German went to sleep and he suggested looking for kangaroos in the sand dunes.
“I said that would be really nice – you come to Australia, you want to see kangaroos,” she said.
“(As we looked) he was just, like, normal … nothing stood out to me … (his demeanour) was just regular, normal, nothing negative or positive.
“I didn’t see any kangaroos so I said ‘let’s go back’ … suddenly, I felt him on my back and he had his arm along my neck.
“I was just saying ‘no, stop that, it’s not cool, it’s not fine’ but he kept doing it so I couldn’t walk.”
The Brazilian said she fell onto the sand and the man got on top of her.
“Suddenly, from somewhere, he got a knife and put it in the sand,” she said, making a downward stabbing gesture as she spoke.
“He didn’t threaten me with the knife or anything but for me, I felt like he was saying ‘I’m the power, I have a knife’ … I felt genuinely threatened.
“Something was happening, something dangerous (to) my life.”
She described the man taking a length of blue nylon rope “from somewhere”, saying it was an “exact piece, not the whole rope” and attempting to bind her wrists behind her.
“It looked like he had planned,” she said.
She said they struggled over the ropes, with her attempting to throw them away or prevent him reaching them, but stopped when he threatened to break her arm.
It was then, she said, she tried to form an escape strategy and “kept talking” to the man, saying he did not “need to do this” while she tried not to “freak out”.
She said he used the knife to cut her bikini from her body and began to touch, kiss and lick her body.
“He was around my mouth saying ‘kiss me back’ and I started giving him excuses (saying) ‘my hands are tied, so sore, I can’t kiss you’,” she said.
“He started getting really angry with me … he spat on me, he spat on my face … he started punching me on my left side, maybe five to 10 times.
“I don’t think he wanted to listen to what I was saying so he got the bottom of my bikini and tried to put it in my mouth and tie it (around my head), but he couldn’t do it.”
She continued to try to reason with the man, eventually suggesting it would be “more pleasurable” if they went back to the tents.
“That was the first time he was interested – he asked ’how?’,” she said.
The Brazilian said her sole interest was survival, and her strategy was to get them as close as she could to the German – and help.
However, the man used a second piece of nylon to tie one of her ankles, create a hook, and attach it to her other ankle so she could only hobble, not run.
They began to make their way back to camp but, she said, the man appeared to change his mind.
“I started screaming (the German woman’s name) because it could be my last opportunity,” she said.
“He got really angry and pushed me down into the sand … he punched me again maybe five times,” she said.
“He grabbed some sand and said ‘if you do that again, you’re going to eat sand’.”
She said her screams had woken the German who ran from the camp yelling “let her go, let her go”.
“He started going toward her direction and, I couldn’t see what it was, but he had something in his pants,” she said.
“It was the handle of a tool, it was wood, so I yelled ‘he has a hammer, he has a hammer, run away’.”
As the man and the German faced off, the Brazilian attempted to pass her wrists under her bottom and legs to get free, but could not.
She was able, however, to untie her ankles – but she still could not run in the deep, soft sand as she had no balance without her hands.
Asked whether she saw what transpired between the man and the German, she said she did not, but did see the German woman come towards her, bleeding, and untied her hands, saying, “he hit me”.
“It was the exact moment when you’re watching a horror movie and the guy is going to follow the girls and they do that stupid thing,” she said.
“At that moment we saw him coming with the car, he was inside the car. We thought we need to go in separate directions, otherwise he’s going to just come and get both of us.”
The Brazilian woman said the pair decided to split up. She headed towards the gate to Salt Creek and hid, “totally naked”, in a bush on the dunes.
She told the court a white car drove by and she ran to it and climbed in, screaming: “He tried to kill me, he will kill all of us, let’s go because he will kill us.”
The Brazilian told the court the men in the car gave her a jumper to wear. She insisted they go look for the German woman.
“She was there by herself, she was on the trip because I invited her,” she said.
But there was “no sign” of her or the accused.
As they left Salt Creek, the group encountered a group of off-duty police officers fishing – but the Brazilian woman didn’t trust them.
“I thought, ‘is this the part of the movie where you think you are getting away and then something bad happens?’”
The police officers convinced the rescuers they were legitimate, and the Brazilian was taken back to the Salt Creek roadhouse.
In cross-examination, Bill Boucaut SC, for the man, suggested the Brazilian’s evidence was incorrect.
“I suggest to you that you took your bikini off … you were strutting around with no clothes on,” he said.
The Brazilian replied: “No, I got naked when he ripped my bikini off with a knife.”
Mr Boucaut suggested events had not unfolded as she had described, saying his client “did no such thing”.
“I suggest there was no knife (and) nothing like that happened … you had an argument about the cooking and ran off into the sand dunes,” he said.
“I suggest to you that the very last time you saw (the man) was at the camp, and you ran off into the sand dunes without any clothes on.”
The Brazilian said that was incorrect.
“The last time I saw (the accused), he was inside the car, driving toward our direction,” she said.
Earlier, the owner of the Salt Creek roadhouse told a court he felt a shiver up his spine when he saw footprints and tyre tracks suggesting one of the alleged victims had been chased and run down by a car.
Adam Stewart said he had inspected sand dunes near an isolated camp immediately after the arrest of the alleged kidnapper.
“As a hunter who follows a lot of footprints, I would say they were running,” he told jurors.
“I thought that was pretty heavy. I got a shiver up my spine at that moment.”
“I pictured something in my mind that was not very nice.”
“The footprints were running south. The tyre marks were running alongside them, on top of them or across them.”
Mr Stewart also said he tried to comfort the Brazilian woman, telling her “you’re safe”.
“The first thing I told her was that her friend (the German woman) was safe, she was waiting at the roadhouse, everything’s OK,” Mr Stewart said.
Asked if he had ever seen the accused at Salt Creek before, Mr Stewart said “yes – on two occasions”, 12 to 18 months before the alleged incident.
The trial, before Justice Trish Kelly and a jury of eight men and four women, continues.