A French tourist has died after being stabbed in the neck at a remote outback rest stop in Australia’s Northern Territory.
The 33-year-old man and his wife, who had only recently arrived in Australia, had stopped at Connor Well on the Stuart Highway, about 100km north of Alice Springs, on Wednesday afternoon when they were approached by a 35-year-old man.
Police said the man then stabbed the French tourist in the neck in “an unprovoked attack”. The suspect fled the scene but was arrested on Thursday morning after an overnight manhunt. Police have not yet given any details about his identity but he was expected to face court on Friday.
Detective Superintendent Travis Wurst of Northern Terriotry police told a media conference in Darwin on Thursday that the victim died at the scene. HIs “traumatised” partner was being treated for shock at Alice Springs hospital.
Detectives believe the rest stop was empty except for the victim, his wife and the suspect at the time of the attack.
The victim’s partner is believed to have flagged down another couple on the highway who then drove 30km to the nearest roadhouse to raise the alarm, contacting emergency services about 5.30pm on Wednesday.
The attacker had already fled in a silver-grey Hyundai hatchback but was stopped by police at Ti Tree, about 90km to the north, where officers recognised the car’s Victoria-registered number plate.
He then fled into the bush, prompting police to establish roadblocks on the highway and launch an overnight land search. A helicopter was deployed at first light and the man was located and arrested about 8.30am on Thursday.
“A crime scene will remain in place for the remainder of today,” Wurst told media in Darwin on Thursday. “Police will continue to speak to a number of witnesses to establish the exact circumstances surrounding the death. The partner of the victim is currently at Alice Springs hospital where she is being treated for shock.
“As one would expect she is particularly traumatised by this event … This is an absolutely devastating occurrence for her and for the family of the deceased as well. Our hearts go out to her and her family, and as far as the Northern Territory police are concerned we’ll investigate this matter thoroughly and efficiently and bring this offender to justice.”
The French consul had been informed, Wurst said.
Connor Well is about 30km south of the remote town of Aileron on the Stuart Highway, which runs through the centre of Australia from Darwin to the coast of South Australia.
Police are calling for anyone who may have seen the silver Hyundai hatchback on the highway, particularly between Ti Tree and Alice Springs, to contact them.