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beware while traveling in outback alone

beware while traveling in outback alone

Old Sep 2nd 2002, 12:37 am
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Default beware while traveling in outback alone

A woman and a 16-year-old girl were abducted at gunpoint by a man who handcuffed them to a tree for five hours in a national park near Darwin, police said.

The ordeal for the German tourists, believed to be mother and daughter, ended when they managed to escape sometime about midnight on Saturday, police said.

The alarm was raised almost 12 hours after the attack when a passerby drove the pair to nearby Wangi store, about 100km south of Darwin.

Police cordoned off Litchfield National Park in case the gunman had gone to ground there.

Police would not say whether the 50-year-old woman or the girl had been sexually assaulted.

Both were traumatised but had no serious injuries.

They were returning to their car around sunset after swimming at Tolmer Falls when their attacker struck up a conversation.

"The two women were approached by a male near the area of Tolmer Falls at about six o'clock," Police Acting Commander Bert Hofer said.

"The man is alleged to have pointed a black handgun at the women, forcing them into the bushes where he handcuffed both to a tree."

The tourists managed to escape after their assailant left them for reasons that police have not disclosed.

Cmdr Hofer later told reporters in Darwin that the gunman fired at least once during the abduction.

He would not say if the handcuffs were handmade, as used by the gunman who attempted to abduct British tourist Joanne Lees 1,000km further south near Barrow Creek on July 14 last year.

That gunman is believed to have murdered Ms Lees' boyfriend Peter Falconio with a revolver after tricking the couple into stopping their camper van on the Stuart Highway.

Police had found no evidence linking the Barrow Creek tragedy with the latest attack on foreign tourists, Cmdr Hofer said.

Detectives investigating the Falconio case have yet to analyse DNA taken from an alleged rapist arrested by South Australian police last week at Port Augusta.

Northern Territory police have confirmed that the unidentified 44-year-old man - charged with two counts of rape, two counts of unlawful detention, firearms offences and possession of prohibited substances - remains a person of interest.

A comparison of his DNA with blood left on Ms Lees' t-shirt during her struggle would decide any link with Barrow Creek.

While Ms Lees described an older assailant with darker hair who drove a white four-wheel drive utility, the German women described a tanned, blond attacker aged in his early 30s and about 170cm tall.

He had a fat belly, blue-grey eyes and was clean-shaven.

He was wearing an Akubra-style hat, green-brown short-sleeved shirt and shorts, brown socks and elastic-sided boots.

Police are looking for a dark blue/green late model station wagon with a bicycle on the back that was seen in the area at the time.

It could have a roof rack and could be a four-wheel drive.
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Old Sep 4th 2002, 12:15 am
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Default Re: beware while traveling in outback alone

Family believes abduction suspect hiding in bush

The man accused of abducting two German tourists at gunpoint in the Northern Territory was probably scared and hiding in scrub, his family said.

They say 31-year-old Matt Page is probably suffering a depressive illness that led him to rob Nuremburg psychologist Eva Obermeyer and her 16-year-old daughter, Sarah, at Litchfield National Park.

Mr Page, an accomplished bushman recently of Hervey Bay, Queensland, was probably now hiding, a relative David Sutherland said.

"He would probably stay in the bush and I would say he'd be now fearful of the consequences and ashamed of what he's done," he said yesterday.

"But in the middle of erratic behaviour, it's hard to know how realistic he's thinking at this stage."

His father Rod Page, a Canberra academic, and younger brother Brad, from Melbourne, made a public plea in Darwin for him to surrender without harming anyone.

Police have concentrated their efforts on finding the 4WD they believe Matt Page was driving - a blue Toyota Landcruiser, Queensland registration 357 EZN, with a distinctive yellow suspension kit.

While police reported several sightings of Mr Page or the 4WD, none had proved positive.
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Old Sep 8th 2002, 11:50 pm
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The man accused of abducting two German tourists in the Northern Territory was arrested on Sunday as he fled a police road block, after allegedly revealing a gun to a group of people who had picked him up.

Matt Page, 31, allegedly revealed a .40 calibre Glock pistol to three people who had picked him up as he hitchhiked near Oenpelli, an Aboriginal community in Arnhem Land 250km east of Darwin, late Sunday.

Police said he had apparently asked them for a lift to his own vehicle.

He was arrested as he ran from their car when it stopped at a road block, they said.

The road block was set up after the stolen four-wheel drive he was reported to be driving was found nearby.

"Mr Page had evidently been given a lift by two women and a man and he had asked to be taken to his vehicle," Acting Police Commander Bert Hofer said.

"During the course of the journey, he is alleged to have produced a firearm and as the car approached a road block in that area, Mr Page, who was hiding in the back of the vehicle, jumped out of the car and was recognised by police and was subsequently taken into custody."

The arrest ends an eight-day manhunt for Page sparked by the abduction of two German tourists in the Northern Territory's Litchfield National Park.

Psychologist Eva Obermeyer, 50, and her 16-year-old daughter Sarah were shackled to a eucalypt sapling with cable ties for up to seven hours last weekend after being robbed at gunpoint.

The four-wheel drive, stolen from Maryborough in Queensland near Page's home at Hervey Bay, was found earlier on Sunday near Maningrida on the Arnhem Land coast.

The people who picked Page up did not initially recognise him but became suspicious during the drive along Oenpellie-Manigrida Road.

They did not want to drive to where Page said his vehicle was parked, Cdr Hofer said.

He said Page did not threaten the car's occupants.

Page's father, Canberra academic Rod Page, who flew with his son Brad to Darwin last week to help police find a peaceful resolution to the manhunt, was thankful the search was over.

"The family are tremendously relieved and grateful," he said.

©AAP 2002
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