– With AAP.
Warning: This article deals with an account of rape/sexual assault and may be triggering for some readers.
1. Jogger allegedly raped and nearly drowned during Melbourne trail attack.
A 25-year-old man allegedly raped, choked and nearly drowned a woman in a horrific attack off a popular walking track in Melbourne’s north.
Joel Russo, 25, faces a string of charges including 10 of rape, one of attempted rape and three of sexual assault over the attack along Merri Creek at Coburg on Tuesday evening.
The woman, aged in her 20s, was attacked while jogging about 6.30pm on Tuesday.
Russo is also accused of holding his alleged victim’s head under water and choking her, court documents show.
At about 10pm, the woman persuaded Russo to walk her more than two kilometres to McDonald’s in Brunswick East where she screamed and he fled.
Customers inside helped the woman and she was taken to hospital.
Russo was arrested about 1am on Wednesday, after he allegedly attempted to rob a service station in Carlton.
The accused rapist asked not to be brought into the Melbourne Magistrates Court for a filing hearing on Thursday, when his lawyer revealed the 25-year-old had bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, an acquired brain injury and intellectual disability.
He was arrested hours after the incident and charged with 17 offences, including reckless conduct endangering life and reckless conduct endangering serious injury.
He has been prescribed anti-depressants and also takes medication for chronic back pain, the court was told.
Police have called for witnesses to the Merri Creek assault, including anyone who saw a man around the parklands between 6pm and 9pm on Tuesday.
Detectives also want to hear from anyone who saw the man walk with the alleged victim into a Brunswick East McDonalds, on the corner of Albion and Holmes streets, about 10pm.
Russo’s lawyer did not apply for bail and the accused rapist was remanded to reappear for a committal mention via video link on March 12.
The alleged rape is the latest in a series of attacks on women in public spaces in Melbourne. In June 2018 comedian Eurydice Dixon was raped and murdered in Princes Park.
In January, Aiia Maasarwe was killed as she walked home in Bundoora and Courtney Herron, 25, was attacked and killed in Royal Park in May.