Brave backpacker killed trying to save Derbyshire woman from frenzied knifeman

A brave backpacker was fatally wounded attempting to save a Derbyshire woman who suffered a frenzied knife attack at an Australian hostel. Thomas Leslie Jackson was stabbed in the head while attempting to protect Derbyshire woman Mia Ayliffe-Chung who had been dragged from her bed and attacked by schizophrenic drug user Samil Ayad.

Miss Ayliffe-Chung was pronounced dead at the scene while Mr Jackson died from his injuries inflicted at the hostel in Home Hill, Queensland, Australia, on August 23, 2016. The brave young man passed away six days after the attack due to stab wounds to the brain, the inquest into his death heard.

The inquest held at Warrington Coroners Court yesterday, Tuesday, April 12, heard that Mr Jackson, from Congleton, sustained at least 12 separate injuries in the attack. A coroner’s report in Queensland stated that Mr Ayad was at the time ‘psychotic and under the influence of cannabis’, and as a result criminal proceedings were discontinued, reports Cheshire Live.

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Assistant coroner Peter 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 Ayad carried out a frenzied knife attack upon Miss Mia Ayliff-Chung, inflicting severe injuries upon her.

“Miss Ayliffe-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.”

The inquest was told that another backpacker, Daniel Richards, found Miss Ayliffe-Chung in the bathroom and shouted that she had been stabbed. At this point Mr Jackson ran inside.

The coroner continued: “Mr Ayad went back into the hostel, still carrying a knife, shouting and gesturing. Despite knowing that Mr Ayad had inflicted serious knife injuries to Miss Ayliffe-Chung and that Mr Ayad remained within the hostel, armed and dangerous, Mr Jackson made no attempt to escape to a place of safety but remained with Miss Ayliffe-Chung in an effort to care for her and prevent further harm to her.”

Mr Ayad then forced his way into the bathroom. Mr Jackson attempted to calm him down but was subsequently attacked, sustaining multiple stab wounds. The coroner told the hearing that an Australian mental health court had later determined that Mr Ayad was “not of sound mind” at the time of the attack.

The coroner said that 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”. The court heard how French backpacker Smail Ayad carried out the attack on both Thomas, 30, and Miss Ayliffe-Chung, 21.

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, Mr Jackson’s parents Leslie and Sandra said there isn’t a day that goes by when they don’t think of their son. Leslie said: “We think about him all the time.”

Sandra added: “I’ll never get over it. You just learn to live with it.” In relation to Mr Ayad, Leslie said: “I’ve never thought about him. 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. Leslie said: “Tom fitted more in 30 years than a lot of people do in a lifetime.”

Mr Jackson 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.