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Joel Cauchi: Who was the Sydney mall stabbing attacker?

He battled ‘mental health issues since he was a teenager’ and led ‘itinerant’ lifestyle

Namita Singh
Sunday 14 April 2024 13:28 BST
Related: Police confirm Sydney mall attacker ‘known to law enforcements’

The Sydney knife attacker who fatally stabbed six people at a shopping centre has been identified as Joel Cauchi.

He also injured at least 12 people at Westfield Shopping Centre in Bondi Junction before he was killed by Inspector Amy Scott, who confronted him while he was on the rampage.

Cauchi, 40, who was known to police in the neighbouring state of Queensland, had moved to Sydney, the capital of New South Wales, last month.

He led an “itinerant” lifestyle, had recently been sleeping in his car and had only infrequently stayed in touch with his mother via text messages, Queensland Police assistant commissioner Roger Lowe told reporters in Brisbane.

Struggling with “mental health issues since he was a teenager”, Cauchi had not been "prosecuted or arrested or charged for any offence within Queensland”, police said, adding that they did not believe that the attack was an act of terrorism or linked to any ideology.

Chilling social media posts over the years, however, revealed a concerning pattern as he sought after “groups of people who shoot guns, including handguns, to meet up with, chat with and get to know”.

“Please send me a DM if you can help me out! I live in Brisbane by the way,” he posted in December 2020.

He had also uploaded a profile to an escort website, soliciting sex work.

“I am an athletic, good looking 39-year-old guy,” the now-deleted profile read, according to 9 News.

He was listed on several male escort websites, including Australia Cracker, Empire Escorts and Escorts Australia, reported the Daily Mail. All of these websites allow users to solicit their own sexual services.

Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese and New South Wales premier Chris Minns lay floral tributes at Westfield Bondi Junction on 14 April 2024 (Getty Images)

Police are now investigating Cauchi’s life, “leading up to” Saturday’s attack at the Westfield Shopping Centre.

"This will be an active investigation for many days and perhaps weeks while we identify not only the movement of the offender, not just yesterday, but the hours, the days, the weeks, his life leading up to yesterday," NSW Police commissioner Karen Webb said. “We do understand that there is a history of mental health.”

In the days before the incident, Cauchi also made Facebook posts seeking to meet people surfing at Bondi Beach.

“Hi I am surfing Bondi this afternoon if anyone wants to meet there for a surf!” he posted in a group called Beginner Surfing & Adventure.

“Hi, I live in Sydney and am looking for people that I can rideshare with, pay for some fuel and stay at some interesting places reasonably close to Sydney together,” he said in another post.

Police officers walk past a sign at Westfield Shopping Centre on Saturday (AP)

According to Queensland Police assistant commissioner Roger Lowe, he had been sleeping rough or in a vehicle around Queensland before moving to New South Wales.

“He has moved from Brisbane, Kangaroo Point, Carina and back to his family’s residence,” Mr Lowe said, adding that they were working on “profiling the offender”.

“There is still, to this point no information we have received, no evidence we have recovered, no intelligence that we have gathered that would suggest that this was driven by any particular motivation, ideology or otherwise.”

Australia Stabbing (AP)

Police are also investigating a small storage facility in Waterloo where he had been sleeping.

“We know that shortly after coming to Sydney, he took possession of a storage facility that has been identified and we have worked through that very small storage facility,” NSW Police assistant commissioner Anthony Cooke said.

“As I had said last night, there is still to this point nothing that we have, no information we have received, no evidence we have recovered, no intelligence we have gathered, that would suggest that this was driven by any particular motivation, ideology or otherwise.”

Meanwhile, Cauchi’s family contacted police after seeing news reports of the attack and confirmed that he “battled with mental health issues since he was a teenager”.

In a statement released through Queensland Police, the family said: "We are absolutely devastated by the traumatic events that occurred in Sydney yesterday.”

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims and those still undergoing treatment at this time.”

"Joel’s actions were truly horrific, and we are still trying to comprehend what has happened.”

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