Sunday 26 January 2020

Backpacker wakes to find girl in bunk below being stabbed to death by another roommate

Ryan Porter forced to jump from second storey window but was chased down street by alleged knifeman

Mia Ayliffe-Chung, from Derbyshire, was described as 'gorgeous' by friends
Mia Ayliffe-Chung, from Derbyshire, was described as 'gorgeous' by friends

Ben Farmer

A FRENCHMAN who allegedly stabbed to death a young British female backpacker in their Australian hostel while shouting “Allahu akbar” may have developed a romantic infatuation with the victim, police believe.

Mia Ayliffe-Chung was killed in a frenzied knife attack as other travellers desperately tried to save the 21-year-old.

Victim Mia Ayliffe-Chung (above right) worked as waitress at the Bedroom Lounge Bar along with bartender colleague Amy Browne (above left) Picture: PA
Victim Mia Ayliffe-Chung (above right) worked as waitress at the Bedroom Lounge Bar along with bartender colleague Amy Browne (above left) Picture: PA
Mia Ayliffe-Chung Photo: PA

Another British backpacker, Tom Watson, remains in a critical condition after being stabbed up to 20 times in the face and body trying to protect her.

Smail Ayad, 29, injured several police officers and was reportedly screaming “Allahu akbar”, or “God is Great”, before he was subdued and arrested, but police played down a link to extremism or terrorism. He was officially charged on Thursday with Miss Ayliffe-Chung's murder, as well as two counts of attempted murder, one count of serious animal cruelty and 12 counts of serious assault.

Detectives have found no terror links to him and are now investigating whether he had developed an obsession with Miss Ayliffe-Chung.

Asked if Mr Ayad had a romantic interest in Miss Ayliffe-Chung, Det Supt Ray Rohweder, regional crime co-ordinator from the Northern Region, said: "That's one of the lines of inquiry that we are conducting. There is certainly, at this stage, no indication certainly from Mia's point of view that there was any sort of romantic connection."

Smail Ayad
Smail Ayad

He also said that, although nothing was being ruled out, there was "absolutely no indication of any form of radicalisation or any political motive in relation to this matter".

Another Briton, Chris Porter, said he and Miss Ayliffe-Chung had been staying in the same room as the alleged knifeman.

Mr Porter, 22, from Rochester in Kent, woke to find her being attacked in the bunk below him.

After stabbing Mr Watson, 30, the attacker then turned his attention to Mr Porter who jumped from a second storey window of Shelley’s Backpacker’s in Home Hill, south of Townsville, to escape.

The knifeman then continued to chase Mr Porter, who is believed to have fractured both heels in his leap.

Mr Porter’s brother, Aaron, told the Gold Coast Bulletin the alleged killer continued to pursue his younger brother, chasing him down the road with the knife.

He said: “He’s had to wave down a car and this guy was trying to smash through the car window.”

A dog was also killed in the attack.

The Frenchman had been staying at the hostel for several days and “seemed an absolutely normal guy. He spoke to the guy before he went to bed – and he seemed fine.

“He has woken up to him dragging Mia out of bed,” Mr Porter's brother said. “The guy was a nutter.”

Mr Ayad, from Marseille, entered Australia in March on a temporary visa, and had been involved in an argument with his alleged victim before the attack, The Australian reported.

Bill Byrne, Queensland’s police minister, described the stabbing attack as “tragic and disturbing”, but said it was not “about race or religion”.

The victim’s mother, Rosie Ayliffe, said her daughter “would not want to be the reason for any hostilities caused by any misinterpretation of events”.

Ms Ayliffe paid tribute to her daughter, calling her “an amazing young woman with an adventurous spirit. Not only was she kind and funny, she was clever, sassy, with a sense of fun.”

Mr Ayad, who has had a psychiatric assessment and undergone forensic analysis, stopped co-operating with police on Wednesday night after being initially co-operative and was Tasered and pepper sprayed by officers.

Mr Rohweder said: "When we transported the suspect from the Townsville hospital to the Townsville police station, the suspect behaved in an extremely violent manner which necessitated police stopping the motor vehicle and attempting to restrain him.

"As a result of that police received some injuries, including just cuts and aberrations but also a bite to the leg."

Miss Ayliffe-Chung, from Wirksworth, Derbyshire, studied childcare at Buxton & Leek College before embarking on a round-the-world trip which had seen her visit Morocco, India and Indonesia before arriving in Australia earlier this year.

She had been working as a waitress and with animals on a farm so she could extend her working holiday visa.

A former boyfriend said she had fallen in love with the country and had hoped to stay.

Jamison Stead, a 23-year-old sales rep, said: “We met towards the end of April through friends in Surfers [Paradise].

"She was living in Surfers on the Gold Coast and planning on exploring Australia, with the intention to find a sponsorship as she wanted to stay here as she had fallen in love with the country and its people.”

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