Tuesday 28 January 2020

Face of man charged with murder of British backpacker in Australia

Smail Ayad
Smail Ayad
Mia Ayliffe-Chung Photo: PA

Police have charged a 29-year-old man with murder following the death of British backpacker Mia Ayliffe-Chung in Queensland, Australia.

The Queensland Police Service said he had been charged with one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder, one count of serious animal cruelty and twelve counts of serious assault.

Miss Ayliffe-Chung, 21, from Wirksworth, Derbyshire, was attacked at the Shelley's Backpackers accommodation in the Home Hill area of Queensland on Tuesday night.

The Queensland Police Service previously confirmed the man they had arrested was Smail Ayad, a 29-year-old Frenchman.

A 30-year-old British man police named as Tom Jackson remains in hospital with critical head injuries and a 46-year-old local man received non-life threatening injuries.

Police said the man charged would appear at Townsville Magistrates Court on Friday.

A statement said: "It will be alleged that as the man was being transported from the hospital to the watch house around 5.45pm, he assaulted two officers and resisted violently and police have had to use a Taser and capsicum spray on the man."

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

He also said there was an indication that Ayad had taken cannabis on Tuesday evening and police confirmed he had shouted "Allahu Akbar" during the alleged attack.

Miss Ayliffe-Chung's suffered multiple stab wounds. Her mother Rosie Ayliffe paid tribute to her in a statement, saying she was an "amazing young woman with an adventurous spirit".

Mr Jackson was injured trying to help Miss Ayliffe-Chung. Police described his actions as "selfless".

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

British High Commissioner to Australia Menna Rawlings is in Home Hill to provide support to Britons involved in the attack.

She tweeted a picture of herself laying flowers and said: "Visited Ayr and #HomeHill with consular staff to meet local police and UK nationals. Deep sympathy to all affected."

The man charged will appear by videolink in court on Friday morning as there were a "number of concerns in relation to both officer and public safety", Mr Rohweder said at a press conference.

The 12 serious assaults he has been charged with are in relation to 12 separate police officers, he said.

The suspect has had access to legal representation and the French consulate and he declined to be interviewed.

Police confirmed that they had no indication that radicalisation or political motives were involved in the attack.

Miss Ayliffe-Chung's post-mortem examination found her cause of death to be multiple stab wounds.

Mr Jackson remains "very ill" and his father was due at the hospital.

Mr Rohweder said: "The prayers of the Queensland Police Service and, I imagine, the Queensland community, are with him."

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