Murder trial starts over backpacker Caroline's death

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The Independent Online

An Australian man went on trial today accused of murdering a British backpacker who was pushed off a bridge during a robbery two years ago.

Caroline Stuttle, 19, plunged to her death from the 30ft Burnett River Bridge in the farming town of Bundaberg, 220 miles north of Queensland's state capital Brisbane, on April 10, 2002.

Ian Previte, 32, has denied murder and robbery. He faces a life sentence if convicted by a jury of seven men and five women at the Supreme Court trial.

Previte, with a towel draped over his head, was driven to court through a crowd of waiting reporters, photographers and camera crews.

Miss Stuttle, of York, was travelling through Australia with a friend after completing her school studies and before starting a psychology course at Manchester University.

She had been in Bundaberg only a few days, working as a tomato picker, when she was killed on the bridge as she was returning to a caravan park after making a call from a phone booth to her boyfriend in England.

Outside court the victim's brother, Richard Stuttle, said the family was still grieving.

"We still miss her every day. It gets a little bit easier, but it's still very, very difficult most days," he said.

Prosecutors are expected to begin outlining their case later today.