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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 January 2008, 18:35 GMT
Murdered Karen 'ray of sunshine'
Karen Aim on CCTV
Karen Aim was caught on CCTV before the attack

The father of a Scottish backpacker murdered in New Zealand has described the family's devastation at the death of his "bubbly" daughter.

Karen Aim, 26, died from her injuries after being attacked in the North Island town of Taupo on Thursday.

Her father, Brian, 51, from Orkney, described his daughter as a "ray of sunshine" and said hearing news of her death felt like "watching a bad film".

The island's community has paid tribute to Miss Aim at a church service.

A team of 50 police officers are investigating the "ghastly" attack on Miss Aim, which happened after a night out.

State of shock

CCTV images show her visiting a BP garage at around 0200 local time on Thursday, shortly after leaving a bar.

She was discovered lying semi-conscious in the street half-an-hour later but died in hospital.

Mr Aim, who works as a joiner in Holm on Orkney, said he and his family were still in a state of shock.

"It's felt as though we're watching a bad film on the television and could we not change channels? But we're stuck on this channel for the rest of our lives.

"We just wish that we could change over, instead of this absolute nightmare that we're going through."

Brian Aim
She put a ray of sunshine into every room she came into
Brian Aim
Karen Aim's father

Miss Aim was visiting New Zealand for the second time after a three-month stay in 2006 and had taken a job in a glass-blowing gallery before she died.

"She absolutely landed on her feet. She was in her glory," Mr Aim said.

He described his daughter as having a "strong" personality and said he had no worries about her travels.

"She was very determined and I would have done exactly the same thing."

Mr Aim, who also has a 23-year-old son, Alan, said the family felt they had been "blessed with the most marvellous children we could wish for".

'Bright and bubbly'

His daughter, a graduate in printed textiles from Dundee University, was a "very bubbly, bright, cheerful character", he said.

"She put a ray of sunshine into every room she came into," Mr Aim added.

Miss Aim had worked in a draper's shop in Kirkwall, Orkney, and did design work for Marks & Spencer before heading to New Zealand in 2006.

She returned to save for a year-long trip to the country, which began on 21 October.

If you have children and you lose a child in such a violent way it's just like your heart has been ripped out of you
Reverend Miriam Gross

Reverend Miriam Gross, of East Mainland Parish, who led the remembrance service on Orkney, said the community had been hit hard by the tragedy.

"Everyone is speechless. If you have children and you lose a child in such a violent way it's just like your heart has been ripped out of you.

"Karen's family are just in a state of shock.

"They are very respected in our congregation, they are just great people, and it's terrible that something like that could happen to them."

A post-mortem examination confirmed that Miss Aim died of serious head injuries, which detectives believe were inflicted by a weapon.

CCTV of murdered woman released
18 Jan 08 |  North East/N Isles
Island community's shock at death
18 Jan 08 |  North East/N Isles
UK woman murdered in New Zealand
18 Jan 08 |  North East/N Isles


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