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Last Updated: Friday, 15 October, 2004, 07:48 GMT 08:48 UK
Family to help other backpackers
by Paula Dear
BBC News Online

Two and a half years after the murder of student Caroline Stuttle, her family can perhaps take some comfort from the knowledge her killer is no longer free.

The end of this chapter will allow the family to concentrate on the "positive", said Caroline's brother Richard, such as the work he and his mother are doing to create a legacy to his sister.

Marjorie Marks-Stuttle
Mrs Marks-Stuttle is ready to take a trip to Australia next year

Just hours before the Australian jury found Ian Previte guilty on Friday, Caroline's mother Marjorie Marks-Stuttle was taking to the stage at a seminar on gap year safety in London.

The timing was purely coincidental but it made her appearance at the event on Thursday, for young people planning their gap years, all the more poignant.

"We want justice to be done. But it's obviously not going to bring Caroline back, it won't change the situation for us," she told BBC News Online.

The 19-year-old student, from York, was pushed to her death by Previte from a 30ft bridge in Bundaberg, Queensland, in April 2002, while on a backpacking trip with a friend.

In the period since her daughter's death Mrs Marks-Stuttle has concentrated on setting up and running Caroline's Rainbow Foundation, an organisation designed to help students stay safe on their travels.

Although the family feels the tragedy was a case of "being in the wrong place at the wrong time", they have vowed to make keeping others safe their "life's work".

Information and support

Caroline's brother Richard, a chef, and Marjorie's husband David, whom she married in June, have worked tirelessly alongside her to get the project up and running.

"We want to become the first port of call for gap year students, to raise awareness, and act as an information and support service.

Gap year students at the seminar talk of their plans and concerns

"We are an umbrella organisation for lots of different groups who have the expertise we don't have."

The event also involved the Suzy Lamplugh Trust safety organisation, and the Royal Geographic Society.

Among other things the Foundation is producing a safety video for schools, is having a safety alarm bracelet designed for travellers, and aims to set up 'safe rooms' all over the world for backpackers who find themselves in trouble.

But Marjorie Marks-Stuttle stressed that it was important young people follow their dreams, as Caroline did.

"This is something positive to come out of a tragedy," she said.

"Like any mother who lets their daughter go off travelling, I had my fears. But Caroline had done her research before she went, she was a bright young lady with everything to live for."

'Her voice buzzed'

She and Caroline were close, having spent five years living together alone following the break up of her marriage with Caroline's father Alan.

She told a packed seminar of young delegates on Thursday: "She said she would ring once a month while she was away, but she actually phoned about three times a week because she knew I was no good with e-mails.

"Caroline was full of chatter, full of the things she was doing, and those were very special times that we had."

Giving words of encouragement to the young people about to embark on their gap years she said Caroline had loved Australia and her time away.
Caroline Stuttle
Caroline was full of chatter, full of the things she was doing, and those were very special times that we had
Marjorie Marks-Stuttle

"In her voice, she buzzed, she thought it was a wonderful place."

Mrs Marks-Stuttle has not yet been able to face the journey to Australia, and did not want to go through the ordeal of the criminal trial into her daughter's death.

Caroline's father Alan has visited and her brother Richard has been in the country for some months, has attended the murder trial, and will stay on to do research for the Rainbow Foundation.

But only now does Mrs Marks-Stuttle feel ready to plan a trip with her husband, whom she met around the time Caroline was killed.

"We're not going until next year. We'll go to all the nice places Caroline went to see, and say thank you to the people of Bundaberg for their support.

"I haven't been able to face it yet but it's something I've got to do."

Addict guilty of Stuttle murder
15 Oct 04 |  North Yorkshire
New help for young travellers
30 Jun 03 |  North Yorkshire

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