The family of murdered English backpacker Caroline Stuttle have spoken about their grief and her legacy after learning convicted killer Ian Previte was due to be released on parole today.
In 2002 Caroline Ann Stuttle from York was travelling with a friend on her gap year around Australia and Bundaberg was her final destination.
On 10 April 2002 she was thrown from the Burnett Bridge and lost her life.
Her murderer served 15 years of a life sentence after being convicted in 2004.
Media reports indicated that Previte was a drifter and heroin addict who was passing through Bundaberg at the time.
Caroline’s Rainbow Foundation was set up by Caroline’s mother Marjorie Marks-Stuttle and her brother Richard Stuttle after Caroline’s death.
The charity promotes travel safety awareness for anyone going abroad.
“The release of the man who stole my sister's life has hit our family harder than we thought; it's been nearly 18 years since we lost Caroline and life without her still hurts every day,” Richard Stuttle said.
“We knew this day would come, his life sentence is over but ours will last forever.
“We strive to stay positive, reminding ourselves of Caroline’s Rainbow Foundation and all the work we have done to support backpackers and young travellers, helping to keep them safe when travelling.
“This is Caroline’s legacy and how she will always be with us.”
Mayor Jack Dempsey supports family
Bundaberg Region Mayor Jack Dempsey said he has great empathy for Caroline's family.
“Caroline’s murder was a tragedy that took the life of an innocent, caring and energetic young woman,” Mayor Dempsey said.
“Caroline was kind, confident and intuitive. She will always be remembered for her warmth, intelligence and compassion.
“Bundaberg is a welcoming community and we regret this terrible crime occurred in our city.
“Caroline’s rainbow continues to brighten Buss Park and her legacy lives on, providing travel advice for young people and encouraging them to follow their dreams.”
Mayor Dempsey said former Bundaberg City Mayor Kay McDuff played a key role in leading the community’s condolences after the murder and supporting Caroline Stuttle’s family in their grief, also visiting England in 2007.
Caroline's Rainbow Foundation website
The Caroline's Rainbow Foundation and Safer Travel website has comprehensive safer travel information, safety tips and travel stories to highlight the benefits and pitfalls of world travel.
Richard visits schools, colleges and universities around the UK talking to students about his travelling experiences, offering safety advice and awareness strategies to help them stay safe when entering potentially high-risk situations.
Richard has recently finished writing a book about Caroline Stuttle, which includes stories from his travels, founding the charity and attending the trial for his sister's death.
He also goes into detail about dealing with grief and coming to terms with life without his sister.
There are contributions from Caroline’s mother and father as well as some of her close friends and people who worked on Caroline’s murder investigation.
He is now working with Pegasus Publishers, and although no release date has been set, Richard is hoping the book will be released towards the end of this year.
Richard hopes to return to Australia in the future and visit Bundaberg again.
“I have visited Bundaberg a number of times, some visits have been incredibly difficult,” he said.
I have always felt moved by the place and people in a positive way. Everyone has always been so kind and generous.
“A lovely memory I have is visiting the Botanic Gardens with my father and seeing the tree planted for Caroline.
“I have seen photographs of the rainbow mosaic that was created in 2010 and would like one day to see it in person.”
- Other news: UK High Commissioner visits Bundaberg Region