Polish nanny dies before rape justice
IT WAS her last night in Australia, the end of an adventure, when the young nanny went for a final walk around the Moreton Bay neighbourhood where she'd been living.
She'd put on a pair of exercise tights and a grey T-shirt and started off on the same route she'd walked each day with her host family - Polish like her, and connected to her relatives back home.
It was about 8.30pm on November 25, 2016, when she made it to the big roundabout at the corner of Dayboro and Beeville roads, where the car park of a council works depot fronted the street.
And it was there that Travis Alexander Manwarring, stocky and tattooed and double her size, dragged her off the road.
The young woman, 24, who had never travelled outside her village in Poland before coming to Australia, was raped and beaten by Manwarring so badly she would require facial surgery.
She was bloodied and bruised and her nose was broken. She was terrified and distraught.
She'd loved Petrie. She'd loved her host family and they'd loved her.
Her walk that night had been a farewell to the place she'd called home during her time in Australia. She and the family had walked the same walk often.
Police immediately launched an investigation into the attack. They pulled CCTV footage and released images to the media of men on bikes who would have passed by around 8.30pm.
They took DNA and sent it interstate for analysis.
The young woman went home to her family, to the small Polish village where she'd been raised.
Three months later, she was dead.
Detectives discovered she'd died in a car crash - just as they were getting ready to make an arrest.
Acting Detective Superintendent Mick O'Dowd addressed the media on March 3, 2017, to announce a 28-year-old man from Petrie had appeared in a closed court that morning.
"Police have conducted a very methodical, a very detailed investigation into the circumstances around (the sexual assault) and as you've been advised, a male person has been arrested by police yesterday and appeared in court this morning," he said.
"(He) has been charged with a number of offences of a sexual nature and other offences that carry life imprisonment."
He confirmed that, tragically, the victim had died just days earlier.
"We're making those inquiries through international agencies and Interpol to get the full details of how that has occurred. It is a sad set of circumstances," Supt O'Dowd said.
"I have to congratulate the detectives that have been involved in this matter over the last couple of months who have been quite methodical in going about their business of identifying a suspect.
"The work has been to a very high standard."
The trial ran for five days earlier this month.
It is understood a representative for the family sat in court every day, listening to evidence from 25 witnesses.
DNA was a large part of the case, with experts giving evidence in court that Manwarring's DNA was found on the nanny.
Manwarring gave evidence in his own defence, agreeing that he'd bashed the young woman, but claiming the rape had been consensual sex, that he'd bashed her when she'd changed her mind.
He told the court he'd run into the young woman as she was out walking and she'd agreed to have sex with him.
The jury didn't buy it. They were sent out for deliberation on the afternoon of March 13 and returned that same afternoon to deliver a guilty verdict.
Manwarring is yet to be sentenced.
Detectives who worked the case are glad of the outcome, but saddened the young woman never saw her attacker brought to justice.
"I think everyone who'd been involved in the job has been moved by that," Det Supt O'Dowd said at the time of the arrest.
One person close to the case said the young woman was a "beautiful soul".
"Everyone loved her," they said.
"She was just the most beautiful girl. She had the most beautiful soul."
Originally published as Polish nanny dies before rape justice