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An heroic British backpacker died after being stabbed in the brain as he tried in vain to protect a woman from being attacked by a ‘psychotic’ French knifeman at an Australian hostel, an inquest has heard. 

Thomas Jackson, 30, came to the aid of Mia Ayliff-Chung, 20, after she had been stabbed several times at a hostel in Home Hill, Queensland, on August 23, 2016. 

French backpacker Smail Ayad was ‘psychotic and under the influence of cannabis’ when he carried out the fatal attack.

Miss Ayliff-Chung, from Derbyshire, was pronounced dead at the scene while Mr Jackson, from Congleton, died from his severe injuries in Townsville Hospital six days later.

More than five years on from the horrific double killing, an inquest is taking place into Mr Jackson’s death at Warrington Coroners Court.

The court heard today he suffered at least 12 separate injuries in the attack, but the medical cause of death was a stab wound to the brain. 

An inquest has taken place into the death of Tom Jackson (pictured) who was stabbed at a hostel in Queensland

An inquest has taken place into the death of Tom Jackson (pictured) who was stabbed at a hostel in Queensland

An inquest has taken place into the death of Tom Jackson (pictured) who was stabbed at a hostel in Queensland

Mia Ayliffe-Chung (pictured) was also stabbed to death during the attack in August 2016. Mr Jackson rushed to her aid

Mia Ayliffe-Chung (pictured) was also stabbed to death during the attack in August 2016. Mr Jackson rushed to her aid

Mia Ayliffe-Chung (pictured) was also stabbed to death during the attack in August 2016. Mr Jackson rushed to her aid

French backpacker Smail Ayad was 'psychotic and under the influence of cannabis' when he carried out the fatal attack

French backpacker Smail Ayad was 'psychotic and under the influence of cannabis' when he carried out the fatal attack

French backpacker Smail Ayad was ‘psychotic and under the influence of cannabis’ when he carried out the fatal attack

The scene at the hostel in Home Hill, south of Townsville, where Ms Ayliffe-Chung and Mr Jackson lost their lives in August 2016

The scene at the hostel in Home Hill, south of Townsville, where Ms Ayliffe-Chung and Mr Jackson lost their lives in August 2016

The scene at the hostel in Home Hill, south of Townsville, where Ms Ayliffe-Chung and Mr Jackson lost their lives in August 2016

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’.

Summing up the evidence in the report, Mr Sigee added: ‘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.’

The inquest heard another backpacker, Daniel Richards, found Miss Ayliff-Chung in the bathroom and shouted that she had been stabbed, at which 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 Ayliff-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 Ayliff-Chung in an effort to care for her and prevent further harm to her.’

Tom Jackson was posthumously awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal on what would have been his 33rd birthday for his heroic actions

Tom Jackson was posthumously awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal on what would have been his 33rd birthday for his heroic actions

 Tom Jackson was posthumously awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal on what would have been his 33rd birthday for his heroic actions

Ms Ayliffe-Chung (pictured) had been travelling the world for nearly a year before she arrived Australia in 2016

Ms Ayliffe-Chung (pictured) had been travelling the world for nearly a year before she arrived Australia in 2016

Ms Ayliffe-Chung (pictured) had been travelling the world for nearly a year before she arrived Australia in 2016

Daniel Richards (pictured) comforted Ms Ayliffe-Chung in her final moments, despite a risk to his own safety. He also received a Queen's Gallantry Medal

Daniel Richards (pictured) comforted Ms Ayliffe-Chung in her final moments, despite a risk to his own safety. He also received a Queen's Gallantry Medal

Daniel Richards (pictured) comforted Ms Ayliffe-Chung in her final moments, despite a risk to his own safety. He also received a Queen’s Gallantry Medal

Ayad forced his way into the bathroom, where Mr Jackson made attempts to calm him, but he was subsequently attacked and suffered multiple stab wounds.

The inquest heard that an Australian mental health court later determined Ayad was ‘not of sound mind’ at the time of the attack. Criminal proceedings were discontinued.

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.’

Following the inquest today, Mr Jackson’s parents Leslie and Sandra paid tribute to their son.

They told CheshireLive: ‘We think about him all the time.’

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

The parents said their son, who was an avid Liverpool fan, was an experienced traveller and has spent time in India, Malaysia and taught English in Cambodia for 18 months.

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.


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