Police search the Meningie property where the backpacker was allegedly held. Picture: 7 News
Police search the Meningie property where the backpacker was allegedly held. Picture: 7 News

Backpacker ‘chained, abused in dirty old pig shed’

A MENINGIE hobby farmer shackled a European backpacker to a couch and held a gun to her back in a dirty, old pig shed and repeatedly abused her, a court has heard.

Gene Charles Bristow, 54, is standing trial in the District Court in South Australia after pleading not guilty to offences including aggravated kidnapping, rape and indecent assault over the 24-year-old victim's two day ordeal in February 2017.

Opening the trial, prosecutor Michael Foundas told the jury Bristow had responded to the woman's Gumtree post seeking farming work, picked her up in Murray Bridge in his old red ute and took "the back way" to his property to avoid the young woman being detected by locals or his family.

Police at the property during the search. Picture: Naomi Jellicoe
Police at the property during the search. Picture: Naomi Jellicoe

He took her to an "old, dirty pig shed (with) gaps in the walls and a low roof" out of view from the farm's main residence where he lived with his family.

The jury heard it was there, that Bristow held a gun to the woman's shoulder, telling her not to move and that he would kill her if she tried to flee.

He shackled the backpacker to an old black couch using chains on her legs and cable ties on her wrists and removed her clothing.

"Apart from trying to roll up into a ball by curling her legs up to her body, there was nothing she could do," Mr Foundas said.

"Her hands were cable tied at the back, she was chained at the legs, she was naked and he had a gun.

"He held her there, captive, chained up, naked in an old, dirty pig shed on a remote property in the middle of nowhere."

The jury heard Bristow - who pretended to be an employee of the farm - repeatedly returned to the shed to abuse the woman, occasionally adjusting her shackles.

He told her things "designed to keep her in fear, to keep her compliant" including that "she was lucky she was held by him" and not his "bosses" who would "treat her worse, more violently".

Gene Bristow leaves the Adelaide Magistrates Court during an earlier hearing. Picture: Nine News
Gene Bristow leaves the Adelaide Magistrates Court during an earlier hearing. Picture: Nine News

"He told her he was 'the nice one' … he told her that she had to be good, that she had to love him or the others would come and they would hit her, cut her, mark her," Mr Foundas said.

"The accused was saying these things knowing she was a 24-year-old backpacker from (Europe), on her own, with no car, on a farm in the middle of nowhere, not even knowing the name of the nearest town."

Later in the night she managed to briefly escape using metal hooks and use her laptop to send messages of distress to friends, family, tour agencies as well as emails to SA Police, who began searching for the woman the following day.

Fearing her attacker, she then returned to the couch and chained herself back to the couch.

The jury heard police then descended on Meningie, and during their search had pulled over Bristow, taking his details.

Gene Bristow is taken into custody at his farm. Picture: Nine News
Gene Bristow is taken into custody at his farm. Picture: Nine News

Mr Foundas told the jury this prompted Bristow to return the backpacker to Murray Bridge later that day.

It was too late to catch the last bus back to Adelaide, so the woman was booked into a hotel overnight and Bristow left. It was when the woman ducked out to grab food from McDonald's that police spotted her.

The jury heard the woman's mobile phone was later found in a rainwater tank, the fake pistol dumped in a paddock and the shackles at the bottom of a well next to the pig shed.

Police also found cable ties, including one containing the DNA of Bristow and the victim, in a wheelie bin.

Nicholas Healy, for Bristow, told the court there was no dispute the woman had stayed overnight in his client's pig shed, but he said the allegations of what occurred at the property were "an invention" and "simply did not take place."

"The defence case … is that at no time was she ever held against her will and at no time did any sexual contact occur between my client and (the victim)," he said.

The trial, before a jury and Judge Geraldine Davison, continues.



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