“COURAGEOUS” Brit died after being stabbed in the head as he heroically tried to save a fellow traveller during a “frenzied knife attack” at an Australian hostel, an inquest heard.
Thomas Leslie Jackson, from Congleton, Cheshire, had come to the aid of fellow Brit Mia Ayliff-Chung after she was stabbed several times at the hostel in Home Hill, Queensland.
Warrington Coroner’s Court yesterday heard how French backpacker Smail Ayad carried out the attack on both Thomas, 30, and Miss Ayliff-Chung, 20.
Miss Ayliff-Chung, from Derbyshire, was pronounced dead at the scene while Mr Jackson died from his severe injuries in Townsville Hospital six days later.
The former South Cheshire College student’s medical cause of death was stab wounds to the brain.
The inquest heard that he sustained at least 12 separate injuries
A coroner’s report stated that Ayad was at the time “psychotic and under the influence of cannabis”, and as a result criminal proceedings were discontinued.
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, which he had “carefully considered” in advance of the hearing, Mr Sigee said: “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 was told that 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.”
Ayad then forced his way into the bathroom.
Mr Jackson attempted to calm him down but was subsequently attacked, sustaining multiple stab wounds.
‘I’LL NEVER GET OVER IT’
The coroner told the hearing that an Australian mental health court had later determined that Mr Ayad was “not of sound mind” at the time of the attack.
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.”
Speaking to CheshireLive after the hearing, Mr Jackson’s parents Leslie and Sandra said there isn’t a day that goes by when they don’t think of their son.
Leslie said: “We think about him all the time.”
Sandra added: “I’ll never get over it. You just learn to live with it.”
In relation to Mr Ayad, Leslie said: “I’ve never thought about him.
“I’ve no animosity. My focus was always on Tom. I flew it out the following morning to be with him in hospital.”
The pair said their son, an avid Liverpool FC fan, was an experienced traveller having stayed in India, Malaysia and spent 18 months in Cambodia teaching English.
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 on August 23, 2016.