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