A British man has been charged over a violent attack on a young couple in the Snowy Mountains which police have described as “horrendous” and “disturbing”.
Police said a 22-year-old woman and 25-year-old man were walking along a footpath in Jindabyne early on Thursday morning when they were attacked.
It is alleged the man was punched in the head, becoming unconscious, and the woman was physically and sexually assaulted.
They were both treated in hospital for serious facial treatment and have since been released.
On Tuesday morning, detectives involved in Strike Force Buckeridge arrested a 28-year-old in Jindabyne and seized items from inside a unit.
Detective Acting Superintendent Tom Barnes said the man, who was a seasonal worker with a local skiing company, was taken to Jindabyne Police Station and charged with aggravated sexual assault, causing grievous bodily harm to a person with intent, two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and possessing a prohibited drug.
He said while it was initially thought there may be several attackers, they now believed the man was solely responsible.
“Due to the fact that the victims at various stages of the attack lost consciousness, the level of violence and low light levels, it was initially considered that there may well have been other persons present,” Acting Superintendent Barnes said.
“At this time we’re fairly comfortable that we’ve eliminated that as a possibility and that we have the sole person responsible in our custody.”
The man was refused bail and will appear at Queanbeyan Local Court tomorrow.
Calls to ramp up local safety measures
Seasonal worker Ameila McAlister said the local community was in shock, and more needed to be done to prevent future attacks.
“Why do we keep waiting to hear about it before we get outraged and react? We need to make the issue of safety much more aware to people early on,” Ms McAlister said.
“Being a seasonal town that gets really busy in the winter, and we can attract a lot of different people here and people know that there’s a lot of young people in the area going out drinking and walking home at night.”
But Acting Superintendent Barnes said assaults were not a regular occurrence at the popular tourist destination.
“It’s not something that we see generally, let alone in the ski fields,” he said.
“Certainly there’s an increased policing presence due to the large volume of people that pass through the area, but that’s not out of the ordinary.
“This particular alleged offence involved a high level of violence and was quite disturbing as a result.”