Vigil to be held for death of British backpacker

The mother of murdered British backpacker Mia Ayliffe-Chung still feels a connection to her daughter a year on from her death.

Rosie Ayliffe is struggling to come to terms with Mia‘s death after she was stabbed to death in an Australian hostel in August 2016.

She and 35 of Mia‘s friends are due to hold a vigil today on a hill near her home in Matlock, Derbyshire to remember the 21-year-old university student.

Friends in Australia are also paying their respects near the hostel in Home Hill, Queensland, where Mia was allegedly murdered by 29-year-old Frenchman Smail Ayad last summer.

Rosie has since fought a campaign to help backpackers in memory of Mia and feels like she has been supporting her as she visited the hostel herself to trace the final steps of her daughter’s life.

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She has spoken out about the “harrowing” events that she feels were “preventable” and is fighting to win greater protections for backpackers in Australia.

Rosie said: “What I’ve learned about the events leading up to Mia‘s death has been harrowing. To know how preventable it all was is devastating to learn.

“But that does not mean I feel vengeful, or bitter, or destructive. I still feel strongly that guarding your heart against negativity is the most likely way to create a positive outcome.

“I am trying not to feel anything about it right now.

“I know that I have become a better person since her passing, I’m wiser, and I’m stronger, but mostly I’m more empathic.

“My loss pales in comparison with that of so many from war torn areas, currently wandering from place to place searching for a home. I have a home, and I have the knowledge that my daughter lived a happy life, and too few people can say that of their lost loved ones.

“Sometimes perspective is everything.

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“On an emotional level, I feel as if I had a kite, on a string, a beautiful exotic kite at that, a lithe kite that danced on the wind and was admired by all, and now the kite’s string has broken, and the kite is blowing on the winds.

“So I feel loss, but I also feel a sense of wellbeing, and I still feel an emotional connection with Mia as she continues on her travels. She will always be my moral compass, as she has been since she was a toddler.

“She was a wise soul from very young, and I sometimes wondered whether she’d been put on the earth for some reason I couldn’t fathom.”

Mia was staying in the hostel in Home Hill while she was completing 80 days of farm labour to fulfil visa requirements to remain in the country.

Smail Ayad is accused of stabbing her to death in the room they shared after he reportedly became obsessed with her.

Another British tourist Tom Jackson, 30, also died of 15 stab wounds sustained while trying to save Miafrom her attacker.

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Rosie remains convinced that her daughter could have been saved if she had been afforded better protections as a visa worker.

She also feels that her daughter’s good looks meant she was quickly given unsuitable farm work because farmers prefer beautiful young women to work for them.

She said: “Does this explain why my beautiful daughter, so slim and unsuited for farm work, was given work immediately when others had been sat around waiting for two to three months.

“Or why she was placed in a room with a disturbed but nevertheless effective employee. Was she some kind of placatory gift to him?

“Does it explain why subsequently another gorgeous 19-year-old Georgian girl was offered work on arrival over stronger Italian guys who were being left to get into debt until they were forced to borrow money from any source they could find?”

Mia was popular with other people staying in the hostel where she was also completing work. Chris Porter, who travelled with her and shared the hostel room, said she had “a lot of friends here”.

He fractured both ankles jumping from the hostel balcony to warn others of an attacker.

Friend Daniel Richards, who is in Australia, took to social media to post: “Tomorrow will be the anniversary of the fatal death of the beautiful Mia and the brutal stabbing of the amazing Tom Jackson, definitely the worst day of my life I had to witness, a very horrific, sad day. A memorial will be held in Home Hill tomorrow which I will be attending Rosie Ayliffe!