Australia: Brit killed after being stabbed in head defending backpacker

Thomas Jackson (right) was fatally injured when he went to the aid of fellow Brit Mia Ayliff-Chung (left)(Picture: Facebook / Supplied)

A British backpacker died after being stabbed in the head during a ‘frenzied knife attack’ in an Australian hostel, an inquest heard.

Thomas Jackson, from Congleton, Cheshire was fatally injured when he went to the aid of fellow Brit Mia Ayliff-Chung after she was attacked at the hostel in Home Hill, Queensland, on August 23, 2016.

Mia, 20, was pronounced dead at the scene after being stabbed several times while Thomas, 30, died of his injuries in hospital six days later.

Now, six years on from the incident, an inquest into Thomas’ death held at Warrington Crown Court has heard both he and Mia were attacked by French backpacker Smail Ayad.

A Queensland coroner’s report stated that at the time of the incident Mr Ayad was ‘psychotic and under the influence of cannabis’, and as a result, criminal proceedings were discontinued.

Thomas’ medical cause of death was given as stab wounds to the brain.

The inquest heard that he sustained at least 12 separate injuries in the attack.

Assistant coroner Peter Sigee said it was ‘appropriate’ that the findings of the Queensland coroner’s report, dated June 30, 2020, should be the ‘only evidence to receive and consider’.

Tom Jackson, backpacker died a week after going to the aid of Mia Ayliffe-Chung. A YouCaring page set up to help support the family of Thomas Jackson, who has died after being critically injured as he tried to save a fellow backpacker as she was stabbed in a knife attack in Australia. Thomas, 30, went to the aid of Mia Ayliffe-Chung, 21, as she was repeatedly knifed at Home Hill last week. See PA story POLICE Queensland. Photo credit should read: YouCaring/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

Thomas died in hospital six days after the attack (Picture: PA)

A supplied Facebook picture of British backpacker,Tom Jackson, who has died in hospital almost a week after he was stabbed while trying to protect fellow British backpacker Mia Ayliffe-Chung during an attack at a north Queensland hostel. (AAP Image/Facebook) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Thomas was posthumously awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal for his bravery (Picture: PR IMAGE)

Summing up the report, which he had ‘carefully considered’ in advance of the hearing, Mr Sigee said: ‘The various individuals involved in this incident were staying in the hostel whilst travelling on a working visa and undertaking paid work at a local farm.

‘Mr Smail Ayad carried out a frenzied knife attack upon Miss Mia Ayliff-Chung, inflicting severe injuries upon her.

‘Miss Ayliff-Chung was able to escape and to lock herself into a bathroom.

‘Mr Ayad then jumped from a first floor balcony as if trying to fly, landing on his back.

‘Mr Jackson went to Mr Ayad’s aid, not knowing what had occurred within the hostel.’

smail ayad

Criminal proceedings against Mr Ayad were dropped (Picture: Smail Ayad)

The inquest was told that another backpacker, Daniel Richards, found Mia in the bathroom and raised the alarm at which point Thomas ran inside to help.

The court heard how Mr Ayad then also went back into the hostel, armed with a knife, shouting and gesturing.

Thomas stayed with Mia, in an ‘effort to care for her and prevent further harm to her’ despite the danger to himself, the coroner said.

Recording a narrative conclusion, Mr Sigee said: ‘Mr Jackson died of knife injuries inflicted upon him by a person of unsound mind whilst Mr Jackson was acting with great courage and valour in seeking to protect and care for a severely injured person.’

Speaking to CheshireLive after the hearing, Thomas’ parents Leslie and Sandra said there isn’t a day that goes by when they don’t think of their son. 

Sandra said: ‘I’ll never get over it. You just learn to live with it.’

‘We think about him all the time,’ Leslie added.

‘I’ve never thought about [Mr Ayad]. I’ve no animosity. My focus was always on Tom. I flew it out the following morning to be with him in hospital.’

The pair said their son, an avid Liverpool FC fan, was an experienced traveller having stayed in India, Malaysia and spent 18 months in Cambodia teaching English.

Thomas was posthumously awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal on what would have been his 33rd birthday, as well as a similar accolade in Queensland, for his heroic efforts on August 23, 2016.

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