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Backpacker attacker convicted in Australia

A man accused of attacking two young backpackers in a harrowing ordeal at a remote Australian beach was Saturday found guilty of kidnapping and assault but cleared of attempted murder.

The 60-year-old, whose identity was suppressed by the South Australian Supreme Court, was on trial for sexually assaulting a Brazilian woman and hitting her German friend with a hammer at Salt Creek, east of Adelaide, in February last year.

He denied the charges but was found guilty of six offences including indecent assault, aggravated kidnapping and endangering life.

The court heard he met the backpackers through classifieds website Gumtree where they advertised for a ride from Adelaide to Melbourne, the capital of Victoria state.

After picking them up, they drove to the remote site in Coorong National Park where they set up camp, the Adelaide Advertiser newspaper reported.

The court was told the man and the Brazilian went looking for kangaroos in nearby sand dunes, at which point he pulled out a knife and bound her wrists with rope before cutting off her bikini and sexually assaulting her.

The German said that when she heard her friend screaming she ran to help but was hit on the head four times with a hammer.

She managed to break free but the man knocked her down several times with his car as she fled, before fishermen in the area came to their rescue and alerted police.

The man will be sentenced at a later date.

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 earlier this month alleged was repeatedly raped, beaten and choked during a two-month hostage ordeal.

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