Backpacker 'was pushed off bridge by drug addict looking for money'

An Australian man went on trial yesterday accused of murdering the 19-year-old British backpacker Caroline Stuttle, who was pushed off a bridge during a robbery two years ago.

The gap-year student, who was from York, died after falling 30 feet from the Burnett River Bridge in the farming town of Bundaberg, 220 miles north of Brisbane in Queensland.

Ian Douglas Previte is accused of robbery and murder. The Supreme Court in Bundaberg heard that Previte, 32, was looking for money for drugs when he stole the backpacker's bag as she walked back to a campsite after telephoning her boyfriend in England.

"There was an episode of considerable violence on the walkway," said Peter Feeney, the prosecutor, in his opening address. "Previte ignored her screams of terror and forced her over the railing." Mr Feeney said the young woman died instantly when her skull was fractured and her spine severed as she hit the ground below.

Although Mr Previte has pleaded not guilty to murder and robbery, Mr Feeney told the jury of seven men and five women that the former drug addict had confessed three times - once to jail inmates, once to police, and also by writing it on a picnic table in the town.

Ms Stuttle's brother was in court yesterday as the trial began. "We still miss her every day. It gets a little bit easier, but it's still very, very difficult most days," said Richard Stuttle, 27.

Mr Previte arrived for the opening day of what is expected to be a three-week trial with a towel draped over his head as his car was driven through a crowd of reporters. Approximately 100 witnesses, including four from England, are due to give evidence.

Ms Stuttle, who was travelling through Australia with a friend before starting a psychology course at Manchester University, had been working as a tomato picker in Bundaberg for just a few days on 10 April 2002 when she was killed.

Her mother, Marjorie Marks-Stuttle, 56, said she decided not to attend the trial as it would have been "just too hard to imagine" to come face to face with the man accused of murdering her daughter. She said she would be keeping in close touch with her son. "We just hope that Caroline receives the justice she deserves for what was such a horrible and unnecessary crime."

"It has taken such a long time to come to court and the whole experience has been unbelievably distressing for the family. Our lives will never be the same again, but all we hope now is that the person who committed this crime is sentenced for a long, long time. We want to know that the person responsible for Caroline's murder doesn't get the chance to put another family through the living hell we have all had to been through. My daughter was killed over a few dollars."

Since her daughter's death, Mrs Marks-Stuttle and her second husband, David Marks, 58, have set up the Rainbow Foundation Charity to help British backpackers in Australia in Caroline's memory.

Ms Stuttle's father, Alan, who is flying to Australia later this week, described his daughter as a vibrant young woman, full of energy.

"I'm quite relieved that something is coming to fruition and let's hope justice can be done. We have to remember that this man is innocent until proven guilty but if he did kill Caroline we have to make sure he doesn't kill anyone else.

"It's been hell on earth but the important thing is that we don't have a recurrence of this heinous crime."

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film Ridley Scott reveals truth behind casting decisions of Exodus
News
people
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
filmThe singers widow and former bandmates have approved project
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
News
Albert Camus (left) and Jean-Paul Sartre fell out in 1952 and did not speak again before Camus’s death
people
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Arts and Entertainment
'Felfie' (2014) by Alison Jackson
photographyNew exhibition shows how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
Life and Style
fashion
News
i100
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst- Insurance

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst - Insurance ...

Recruitment Genius: Property Manager

£25000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent, growing Sales...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Multi-skilled graphic designer ...

Austen Lloyd: Court of Protection Solicitor

£30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: Court of Protection Solic...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?