Father of murdered backpacker, Tom Jackson, speaks about the trauma of watching his son die.

Tom Jackson was universally hailed as a hero when, on August 23, he tried to save 21-year-old Mia Ayliffe-Chung from a fatal attack at a hostel in Townsville.

But for his father, Les, the praise was meaningless without his son alive. “It didn’t make me feel anything,” he told

Tom, 30, had suffered 20 stab wounds, including one to the eye. His father immediately flew from England to Australia to be by his side.

When he arrived, he was surprised by the cameras around the hospital. “I thought it was bizarre,” he said.

In hindsight, the 58-year-old shared that his son was probably already gone by the time he arrived.

"I just wanted him to get better," said Les. Image via Facebook.

"Tom was on a ventilator ... He looked like Tom except he had a patch over his eye," he said.

"'I think he was really gone by then because he was stabbed in the brain. They couldn’t take him down for a scan at that point.

"I was like a zombie. I hadn’t slept in 48 hours.

"I think on the Saturday they managed to do a scan, after which they told me the best prognosis was for him to be in a vegetative state."

"I just wanted him to get better," he said. "I just wanted to take him home to his mum, even if there was some damage."

Both Tom and Mia had been living in a hostel and working on a farm, when another backpacker, Frenchman Smail Ayad, became infatuated with Mia, and allegedly attacked her as a result.

Mia Ayliffe-Chung was fatally attacked at a Townsville hostel. Tom Jackson died trying to defend her. Image via Facebook.

Mia died immediately, and Tom was in hospital for six days before his family made the heartbreaking decision to turn off his life support.


"They’d tried to save his eye, not the sight but just so he didn’t need a false eye. I didn’t care," said his father.

"I gave him love from his mother and from the family. I cried a lot, to be honest, I just held his hand."

Tom's sister Olivia joined her father at the hospital, as did several of Tom's friend from the hostel.

Describing one friend, who had witnessed the terrifying attack, Les said, "I didn’t say a lot, he was very upset, good lord."

"You could tell he was traumatised. He was in a right state."

Tom Jackson with his father, Les. Image via Facebook. 

For Les, the hardest thing is coming to terms with the fact that he'll never see his son again.

"He was always away," he said. "He wasn’t someone who kept in touch regularly, Tom would just pop up now and then. As long as we knew he was OK, that was fine"

"Somewhere in the back of your head, he’s just away."

When Tom passed away, Les released a short statement.

"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," the statement read.

"There is dark and evil in this world perpetrated by a few, but so much more love and light emanates from so many more."