Derby

Australia backpacker murder: Man charged over Mia Ayliffe-Chung death

Mia Ayliffe-Chung Facebook photo Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Mia Ayliffe-Chung was staying at Shelley's Backpackers in Home Hill, near Townsville, when she was stabbed to death

A man has been charged with the murder of British backpacker Mia Ayliffe-Chung at a hostel in Australia.

Queensland Police Service earlier named the suspected murderer as 29-year-old Frenchman Smail Ayad.

He is also charged with two counts of attempted murder, 12 counts of serious assault and one count of serious animal cruelty.

Miss Ayliffe-Chung died after being stabbed in Home Hill, near Townsville, on Tuesday night local time.

The 20-year-old from Wirksworth, Derbyshire, died from multiple stab wounds, a post-mortem examination confirmed.

Mr Ayad is due to appear before Townsville Magistrates Court on Friday by video-link.

Police said the possibility that Mr Ayad had an unrequited romantic interest or an "obsession" with Miss Ayliffe-Chung was a line of inquiry.

They have confirmed that a man shouted "Allahu Akbar" during the attack, but said there is no indication that radicalisation or political motives were involved.

Image copyright Tommy Martin
Image caption Her family has paid tribute to an "amazing young woman with an adventurous spirit"
Image copyright Mykah Powell/PA Wire
Image caption A friend said she loved her cat Leo, which she got as a pet in Australia

Earlier, Supt Ray Rohweder, regional crime co-ordinator in the Northern Region, confirmed a 30-year-old British man, Tom Jackson, who was critically injured in the attack, had tried to save Miss Ayliffe-Chung after she was stabbed at Shelley's Backpackers in Home Hill.

Mr Jackson, from Cheshire, remains in hospital with critical head injuries.

'Sick to the stomach'

Of his intervention, Mr Rohweder said: "His subsequent actions were absolutely fantastic. I have no doubt that his actions on that day, as completely selfless as they were, led to the injuries he now has."

Another man - a 46-year-old named by a friend as Grant Scholz, who ran the hostel - received non-life threatening injuries and has since been released from hospital.

A dog at the accommodation complex was also killed.

Confirming there was CCTV footage of the incident, he added: "There's no-one that can view that CCTV that doesn't come away feeling sick to the stomach. It's absolutely horrific."

Image copyright Amy Browne/PA Wire
Image caption Mia Ayliffe-Chung (right) - pictured with friend Amy Browne - had only been in Home Hill for days

The suspect was on a second visit to Australia and had arrived in the country for the second time in March.

Mr Rohweder said he understood Mr Ayad had been in Home Hill for about a month while Miss Ayliffe-Chung had been there only a couple of days.

He also said there was an indication that Mr Ayad had taken cannabis on Tuesday evening.

Police have claimed that as Mr Ayad was being transferred from hospital to the station on Wednesday night he became violent towards officers and was Tasered and doused with pepper spray in order to subdue him.

Forensics teams have returned to the scene and specialists from Brisbane are going to Home Hill to do further testing.

Another British backpacker was injured and is in hospital being treated for injuries to both his ankles.

Image caption Mia Ayliffe-Chung was just days into her trip working on a farm when she was killed

Miss Ayliffe-Chung's family has paid tribute to an "amazing young woman with an adventurous spirit".

The statement, on behalf of Mia's mother Rosie Ayliffe, was read out by her partner Stewart Cormack.

He said: "Mia was full of the kind of open-minded compassion for life that you don't see that often. It felt as though she was reminding us all of the beauty and possibilities we each have that we should live life to the full.

"Mia was a rare person who saw beyond race, creed and belief. She would always treat others with dignity, respect and kindness.

"As a peaceful person Mia had huge respect for everybody. She would not want to be the reason for any hostilities caused by any misrepresentations of the events."

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Media captionMia Ayliffe-Chung had just started a three-month trip working with animals

Miss Ayliffe-Chung had lived in Surfers Paradise, on Australia's Gold Coast, and worked as a waitress at the Bedroom Lounge Bar before making an 800-mile trip north to work with animals on a farm.

Her last Facebook update was on 20 August, four days after starting work on the farm.


Profile: Mia Ayliffe-Chung

Image copyright Facebook

Miss Ayliffe-Chung went to Anthony Gell School in Wirksworth before going to Chesterfield College to study psychology and communication and culture.

She later went to Buxton and Leek College to study childcare.

It is understood she travelled to Bali before arriving in Australia.

Paul Lovatt, head of pastoral care at Anthony Gell, remembered her as "enriching the school environment".

"We knew Mia as a student with so much joy and energy who was well-liked by her friends and teachers," he said.

"She joined our school in Year 9 and flourished here, both in making strong friendships and in achieving high-level GCSEs."

Rachel McVeigh, curriculum leader for education and childcare at Buxton and Leek College, said: "Mia had a zest for life and was free-spirited, with a keen desire to travel.

"We are devastated and extremely sorry to hear such tragic news. Our thoughts are with her family and friends."


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