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Family in tribute to 'darling' son after Australia hostel knife attack hero dies

Published 30/08/2016

The Home Hill backpackers hostel in Queensland, Australia (Google Street View/PA)
The Home Hill backpackers hostel in Queensland, Australia (Google Street View/PA)
Mia Ayliffe-chung, 21, who died after being stabbed at a backpackers' hostel in Australia (Tommy Martin/PA)

The "indescribably proud" relatives of traveller Tom Jackson have paid tribute to a "wonderful big brother" and a "darling" son after he died in an Australian hospital.

The 30-year-old was stabbed as he tried to save fellow backpacker Mia Ayliffe-Chung, 21, during a knife attack at Shelley's Backpackers in Home Hill, Queensland, last week.

Heartbroken sister Liv Jackson, who flew out to Australia with her father Les after Mr Jackson was seriously injured in the incident, posted on Facebook: "There is nothing in this world that can prepare you for the pain and heartbreak of losing a sibling and a friend, but there is great comfort in knowing that he was mine.

"To everyone back home and to everyone here in Australia, there are literally not enough words to thank you for your support and beautifully kind words to my family at this time."

She urged people not to remember him as a victim but as a friend and to cherish his memory, adding: "Indescribably proud of everything you accomplished and the lives you touched. I will love you always and forever TJ, your little sister, Lou."

Mr Jackson, from Congleton, Cheshire, died in a north Queensland hospital on Tuesday.

His father Les wrote on a Youcaring fundraising page set up to help the family: "We are bereft. Our darling Tom has left us and the world is a poorer place. Thanks again to everyone for the love and support you have given us over the last few days, we will be forever grateful.

"There is dark and evil in this world perpetrated by a few, but so much more love and light emanates from so many more. That thought will sustain us over the coming days."

The page is approaching a £5,000 target, with all donations going to Mr Jackson's parents.

Queensland Police said detectives will upgrade a charge of attempted murder against a 29-year-old man when he next appears at Townsville Magistrates' Court on October 28.

Smail Ayad is alleged to have killed Ms Ayliffe-Chung and to have caused the injuries which led to Mr Jackson's death, as well as harming 12 police officers.

Police previously said they were investigating whether Ayad had an "obsession" with Ms Ayliffe-Chung, from Wirksworth, Derbyshire, and described Mr Jackson's actions as "selfless".

Friends and well-wishers posted tributes to Mr Jackson on social media, with many changing their profile pictures to images of him.

Rachel Edwards, who has been close friends with Mr Jackson since they studied at South Cheshire College together, wrote: "I can't really find the words to say how devastated I am to lose one of my greatest and longest friends."

Miss Edwards, 30, from Crewe, Cheshire, told the Press Association: "He would literally try his utmost to try and light people's lives up with his kind words and inspiration, always pointing out the best in you and trying to make you see that.

"He had a genuine care for everyone he met and always had a smile on his face, even when he didn't feel like it inside. I loved him so much, there will literally never be another one like him and I'm so glad we got to tell each other how much our friendship meant to one another before he went on his travels on one of our moments."

Miss Edwards, who studied beauty therapy while Mr Jackson, who she called Jacko, studied sport science, said he travelled to several countries before Australia and taught children English as a foreign language. She said he was an aspiring journalist but had only just discovered his talent and passion for writing.

She added: "Before he went to Australia he wasn't in a good place and he couldn't wait to get out there to enjoy himself and so that also he could concentrate on his writing."

Ryan Fisher, who was friends with Mr Jackson on Facebook, wrote: "You always wanted to be a journalist, and here you are in the headlines.

"You were a great friend Tom, a loyal friend, and I'm a better person for having known you.

Mr Jackson was a sport student at South Cheshire College until 2005.

College principal Jasbir Dhesi said: "This is very sad news following Thomas's heroic intervention where he was trying to protect somebody else.

"Our hearts go out to Thomas's family and friends following this tragic incident."

The fundraising page set up by Mr Jackson's friend Shoshana Palatnik has smashed half of its £10,000 target to help his family.

Ms Palatnik initially set up the Youcaring fundraising page for medical costs while Mr Jackson was on life support but it is now attracting tributes and donations by friends, family and people touched by the backpacker's story of bravery.

Since the news of Mr Jackson's death, the amount raised on the page for his family by well-wishers has surpassed £5,000.

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