A man has been charged with murder, attempted murder and animal cruelty over a stabbing attack at a north Queensland backpackers hostel.
Mia Ayliffe-Chung was stabbed to death in front of about 30 people at Shelley’s Backpackers in Home Hill, south of Townsville, after 11:00pm on Tuesday.
Tom Jackson, a 30-year-old British man who came to her aid, received critical head injuries in the attack, and a hostel employee was stabbed in the leg.
A dog was also killed.
Frenchman Smail Ayad, 29, who was living with the victims at the hostel, was charged on Thursday afternoon with one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder, one count of serious animal cruelty and 12 counts of assaulting police officers.
The ABC understands Mr Jackson and Ayad were close friends, and locals who knew them are shocked by the incidents.
It is alleged Ayad used the Arabic phrase “Allahu akbar” both during the attack and his arrest, and while police have so far ruled out any links to extremism, they are still investigating whether the suspect had a romantic interest in Ms Ayliffe-Chung.
Ayad was taken to hospital on Wednesday with non-life-threatening injuries.
When he was released to the watch house on Wednesday evening, he allegedly assaulted two officers and violently resisted until a Taser and capsicum spray were used to subdue him.
Superintendent Ray Rohweder said Ayad would appear in court via video link for safety reasons.
“There are a number of issues in relation to officer and public safety,” he said. “His demeanour remains unchanged.”
Police have indicated Ayad had used cannabis on the night of the attack and drug testing was underway.
Mr Jackson’s father will arrive in Townsville tonight.
“The prayers of the Queensland Police Service, and of course I imagine the Queensland community, are with him,” Superintendent Rohweder said.
Ms Ayliffe-Chung was just days into a three-month stint on a Home Hill farm as part of her visa extension in Australia.
Her stepfather has joined those paying tribute to her open-minded compassion and adventurous spirit.
Holding back tears during an interview on British TV, Stewart Cormack described Ms Ayliffe-Chung as a peaceful person, who had respect for everybody.
“Mia was a rare person who saw beyond race, creed and belief. She would always treat others with dignity, respect and kindness,” he said.
This post originally appeared on ABC News.
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