A Dutch backpacker who was held hostage in a Melbourne hotel room for six weeks, while her captors repeatedly raped and bashed her, tells a court she is tormented and physically scarred from the ordeal.
The female backpacker was tortured and forced to endure psychological manipulation “of the highest order” at the hands of a Melbourne man who claimed to be possessed, a judge says.
Alfio Anthony Granata, 48, has pleaded guilty to repeatedly raping and assaulting the woman with weapons in his Preston hotel room during a six-week ordeal.
His former partner, Jennifer Mary Peaston, also pleaded guilty in the Victorian County Court on Wednesday to intentionally causing injury to the woman.
The 23-year-old tourist was too scared to leave the couple’s hotel room, and was stabbed, raped, beaten and forced to sleep in the shower.
The court heard Granata variously believed he was possessed by the devil and an ancestor named Toto, and once collected the woman’s nails, hair and blood in an envelope to perform a supposed ritual to destroy her soul.
But Peaston’s barrister, Nola Karapanagiotidis, said her client was also a victim of Granata’s cruelty and abuse.
“She endured ongoing violence and emotional and physical abuse,” Ms Karapanagiotidis told Peaston’s plea hearing.
Granata and Peaston met their victim at a party in St Kilda and invited her back to their hotel room to smoke the drug ice and have group sex.
After one visit in November 2012, she was intimidated into staying and remained a virtual prisoner for six weeks.
The court was shown video of Granata forcing Peaston and the woman to sit back-to-back on a bed and face questioning about perceived betrayals they had committed against him.
“If you lie, you get a slap,” Granata tells the women before striking them.
He is also shown ordering Peaston, 34, to put a plastic bag over her head.
Judge Frank Gucciardo said the footage depicted the two women facing a “psychological onslaught” at the hands of Granata.
“What’s displayed is psychological torture and manipulation of the highest order,” he said.
The tourist told the court the abuse had tormented her mind and left her body covered in scars.
“At night I wake up soaking in my own sweat feeling like I’m still there,” she said in a victim impact statement delivered via a video link.
“There is always a dark cloud following me.”
The woman’s ordeal ended on Christmas Day 2012, when Peaston called police after the woman cut her wrists in a suicide attempt.
Doctors found 54 separate injuries covering her body.
Peaston’s plea hearing continues on Thursday. Granata will face a plea hearing and sentence at a later date.
– with AAP