Coroner rules out inquiry into Home Hill backpacker deathsjuillet 1, 2020
On August 23, 2016, a 29-year-old French backpacker, Smail Ayad, went on a violent rampage, claiming the lives of Ms Ayliffe-Chung and 30-year-old British traveller Tom Jackson, who had come to her aid.
The attack began when he repeatedly stabbed Ms Ayliffe-Chung in her bedroom before stabbing the hostel’s manager in the leg when he tried to intervene.
He then jumped through a window, suffering a fractured neck and back, before stabbing a dog he encountered in the car park.
“Whilst staying at a local backpacker hostel, they each received stab wounds during a frenzied attack perpetrated by a French backpacker who was then psychotic and under the influence of cannabis,” Ms Wilson said in her findings.
Ms Wilson determined Ms Ayliffe-Chung suffered stab wounds to her chest while Mr Jackson had a stab wound to his brain.
Ms Ayliffe-Chung’s mother and Mr Jackson’s father applied for an inquest to be held into their adult children’s deaths.
But the coroner said an inquest would not yield further meaningful information which would enable her to arrive at a different conclusion or make recommendations to prevent similar deaths in the future.
Ms Ayliffe-Chung’s mother Rosie has previously called for better Australian farm work regulations and hoped an inquest into their deaths would address “systemic issues”.
The parents’ general concerns expressed to the coroner related to the hostel industry and working visa framework.
Both Mr Jackson and Ms Ayliffe-Chung had travelled to Home Hill to undertake 88 days of farm work required towards a second year on their 417 visas.
The parents argued that people on working visas were vulnerable to financial exploitation, hostels promoted accommodation in areas with insufficient employment opportunities and the safety needs of occupants were overriden by business needs.
They also expressed concern over whether information about access to mental health services was made available to young travellers.
Ms Wilson acknowledged the first three of the parents’ general concerns but said they fell outside the remit of the coronial investigation.
The coroner said the Harvest Trail Inquiry also addressed many of their concerns and those findings were released in November 2018.
That inquiry found that almost a third of backpackers did not receive some or all of their wages, 14 per cent had to pay fees to secure work and over a third were paid less than the minimum wage.
It also found over half had breached workplace laws.
Despite not handing down the findings Mr Jackson and Ms Ayliffe-Chung’s parents would have been holding out hope for, Ms Wilson extended her “sincerest condolences”.
“I have often said that words are trite in circumstances such as these,” Ms Wilson wrote.
“Both Ms Ayliffe (Mia’s mother) and Mr Jackson (Thomas’s father) continue to reside in the United Kingdom.
“They have responded to each and every enquiry made by our office with dignity and decency. They have each provided their consent to publish these findings.
“Mia and Thomas were in the prime of their life and enjoying a carefree experience of a lifetime in a country that is by all standards otherwise considered safe.
“Their life, and their death, touched many.”
Ayad remains in care in Brisbane, pending his repatriation to France.