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Man accused of stabbing UK backpacker 'may have been obsessed with her'

Published 25/08/2016

Mia Ayliffe-Chung was stabbed to death at an Australian hostel (Tommy Martin/PA)
Mia Ayliffe-Chung was stabbed to death at an Australian hostel (Tommy Martin/PA)

A 29-year-old man accused of stabbing British backpacker Mia Ayliffe-Chung to death in Australia may have been "obsessed" with her, police say.

Smail Ayad has 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.

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

British backpacker Chris Porter, from Kent, jumped out of a second storey window to flee from the knifeman, who then chased him down the street, according to reports.

He is in hospital being treated for damage to both ankles.

Police are investigating reports that Ayad, a 29-year-old Frenchman, had an unrequited romantic interest or an "obsession" with Miss Ayliffe-Chung.

Superintendent Ray Rohweder of Queensland Police also said there was an indication that Ayad had taken cannabis on Tuesday evening.

Police have confirmed he shouted "Allahu Akbar" during the attack but said there is no indication that radicalisation or political motives were involved.

Mr Rohweder said there were a "number of concerns in relation to both officer and public safety" after the suspect allegedly attacked a number of officers.

A police 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."

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

Ayad has had access to legal representation and the French consulate and has declined to be interviewed.

He is due to appear at Townsville Magistrates' Court via videolink on Friday.

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

Her mother Rosie Ayliffe paid tribute to her daughter 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".

He remains "very ill" and his father was due to arrive at the hospital.

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

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."

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