York family’s anguish as murderer is set to walk free

Caroline at Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia

In 2002, Caroline Stuttle was travelling around the world with a friend.

She was making the most of her gap year, between leaving her home in York and going to university. She was 19, and had her whole life in front of her.

On 10 April 2002, she visited Bundaberg, a city on the east coast of Queensland, Australia. It was to be her final destination.

She was thrown from the Burnett Bridge and was killed instantly.

Two years later her killer, Ian Previte, a 32-year-old drug addict, was found guilt of her murder.

Issuing him with a life sentence Justice Peter Dutney said Caroline should have been enjoying the holiday of a lifetime.

“Instead your act of throwing her off a bridge, in the dark, in a strange country, for a miserable few dollars, you killed her in the most dreadful way,” he said.

But now Previte is set to walk free. He has served 15 years of a life sentence and is due to be released on a parole order tomorrow (Friday, 8 May).

And today her brother Richard, who was in court to hear the verdict, spoke of the anguish about Previte gaining his freedom.

‘Hurts every day’

Caroline in Nimbin, Australia

Richard said the family were struggling to come to terms with it.

  • 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.

    We knew this day would come, his life sentence is over but ours will last forever.

In response to the terrible tragedy, the family created a positive, lasting legacy. They founded Caroline’s Rainbow Foundation, which helps young people stay safe on their travels.

“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,” Richard said.

“This is Caroline’s legacy and how she will always be with us.”

Safer Travel app

Caroline’s Rainbow Foundation was set up by her mother Marjorie Marks-Stuttle and Richard after her death.

The charity promotes travel safety awareness for anyone going abroad. Its website has comprehensive safer travel information, safety tips and travel stories to highlight the benefits and pitfalls of world travel.

In 2012, to mark the foundation’s ten-year anniversary, they launched the ‘Safer Travel App’ – a comprehensive, city-specific safety guide covering over 350 world destinations.

The commemorative tree and stone next to the River Foss. Photograph: Richard McDougall
Caroline in Australia

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.

He has recently finished writing a book about Caroline, 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. Although no release date has been set Richard is hoping the book will be released towards the end of this year.

Caroline’s Rainbow Foundation
Safer Travel website