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Sunday 25 February 2018

Mother pays tribute to 'beloved daughter' stabbed to death at Australian hostel

Mia Ayliffe-Chung has died after being stabbed at a backpackers' hostel in Australia (Tommy Martin/PA)
Mia Ayliffe-Chung has died after being stabbed at a backpackers' hostel in Australia (Tommy Martin/PA)
Amy Browne with Mia Ayliffe-Chung, right, who has been named locally as the 21-year-old British woman who has died after being stabbed at a backpackers' hostel in Australia (Amy Browne/PA)
Amy Browne with Mia Ayliffe-chung (right), who has been named locally as the 21-year-old British woman who has died after being stabbed at a backpackers' hostel in Australia by a man shouting "Allahu Akbar". Picture: Amy Browne
Google Street View image of Home Hill backpackers' hostel in Queensland, where Mia Ayliffe-Chung, 21, from Derbyshire, was stabbed to death and a 30-year-old British man was left in a critical condition after being attacked by a Frenchman man shouting Allahu Akbar

The mother of 21-year-old Mia Ayliffe-Chung who was stabbed to death at an Australian backpackers' hostel has paid tribute to an "amazing young woman with an adventurous spirit".

Miss Ayliffe-Chung was killed by an attacker shouting "Allahu Akbar" at the Shelley's Backpackers accommodation in the Home Hill area of Queensland on Tuesday night.

The suspected attacker, a 29-year-old French man, left 30-year-old Tom Jackson fighting for his life.

Mother Rosie Ayliffe said in a statement: "My beloved daughter Mia was an amazing young woman with an adventurous spirit. Not only was she kind and funny, she was clever, sassy with a sense of fun.

"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 and that we should live life to the full.

"She was always at one with herself, so whole. Above all else she had a strong sense of right and wrong, and would always look after those she considered in need."

The statement given to ITV News continued: "She was an outstanding friend to many, and dearly loved by the children of our community. Her feisty nature and strong sense of justice made Mia a beloved friend to her peers and to all who knew her.

"Mia was a rare person who saw beyond race creed and belief - she would always treat others with dignity, respect and kindness. Just seeing her outward appearance could not give you an inkling of how wonderful she was emotionally, socially and mentally.

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

Miss Ayliffe-Chung, from Wirksworth, Derbyshire, was only days into a three-month trip to the country. She had been working as a waitress and with animals on a farm so she could extend her working holiday visa.

Friends have also been paying tribute to both Britons since hearing of the attack.

Miss Ayliffe-Chung's ex-boyfriend, Jamison Stead, 23, remembered her as a "beautiful soul" who had "fallen in love with the country and its people".

The Australian sales rep told the Press Association: "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.

"I can't quite get my head around what's happened. Truly devastated, more just disbelief that this has happened. It's something you hear about but never think that it would happen to someone you were close to.

"She was a beautiful girl who had her whole life ahead of her and we spoke of what the future may hold in store for her and what she wanted to do. It's sad knowing that she won't be able to do those things. My heart goes out to her and her family."

Miss Ayliffe-Chung studied childcare at Buxton & Leek College before travelling to Bali and Australia.

Rachel McVeigh, curriculum leader for education and childcare at the 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."

Speaking of Mr Jackson, Samantha Harrison wrote on Facebook: "Tom Jackson was a very close friend and one of the most amazing people I have ever met. Now Tom I need you to stay strong and beat this for yourself and all of your friends and family who love you."

His parents declined to speak from their home in Congleton, Cheshire.

Queensland deputy police commissioner Steve Gollschewski said all possible motives for the attack were being considered, including criminal and political, as well as the impact of drugs and mental health problems.

He continued: "Initial inquiries indicate that comments which may be construed as being of an extremist nature were made by the alleged offender.

"It is alleged that the suspect used the phrase 'Allahu Akbar' during the attack and when arrested by police."

Mr Gollschewski added that Miss Ayliffe-Chung was the first person to be attacked and the incident was being treated as a murder case, not a terror attack.

Police said up to 30 people witnessed the "senseless act of violence" in which a 46-year-old local man, named as Grant Scholz, also suffered non life-threatening injuries - and a dog was killed.

The suspect was arrested and transferred to hospital for treatment for minor injuries, and was captured on police body-cams uttering the phrase "Allahu Akbar" - which means "God is Greatest" in Arabic.

Detective Superintendent Ray Rohweder said he was not known to police, and officers were still trying to discover what he had been doing in the country since his arrival.

Press Association

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