‘Bollard man’: Frenchman who took on Sydney mall attacker offered permanent Australian residency

Damien Guerot engaged Cauchi on escalator, forcing him to flee

Shweta Sharma
Tuesday 16 April 2024 14:54 BST
Shopper fights off Sydney knifeman in terrifying Westfield attack

Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese praised the Frenchman who confronted Bondi Junction attacker Joel Cauchi for his “extraordinary bravery” and said he could stay in the country for as long as he wanted.

Damien Guerot, a French construction worker, has been dubbed by some as the "Bollard Man" after CCTV footage showed him confronting Cauchi with a bollard on an escalator during the deadly stabbing attack in Westfield Bondi Junction.

Six people were killed in the attack and 12 injured before Cauchi was shot dead by a police officer.

Mr Albanese told reporters in Canberra: “I say this to Damien Guerot – who is dealing with his visa applications – that you are welcome here, you are welcome to stay for as long as you like.

“This is someone who we would welcome becoming an Australian citizen, although that would of course be a loss for France.”

Mr Guerot’s lawyer, Belinda Robinson, said he would be granted permanent residency and was only waiting for official documentation, which was expected to come through soon, according to ABC news.

The video of Mr Guerot’s bravery has gone viral with many pushing to secure a permanent residency for him after reports emerged that his visa will expire in a month.

Ms Robinson had started an online petition calling for Mr Guerot to be granted Australian citizenship, according to ABC. “(He) committed an act of true heroism by selfless putting his own life in the firing line of danger without a second thought by taking on a mass murderer,” she said.

People pay their respects at the scene of the 13 April stabbing rampage at Bondi Junction in Sydney (EPA)

Mr Albanese said: “It says a lot about the nature of humanity at a time when we are facing difficult issues, that someone who is not a citizen of this country stood bravely at the top of those escalators and stopped this perpetrator from getting on to another floor and potentially inflicting further carnage on citizens.

“I think that on Saturday we saw some of the best of human character at the same time as we saw such devastating tragedy. And I thank Damien for his extraordinary efforts.”

As Australia was still mourning Saturday’s attack the nation was rocked by another stabbing just three days later on Monday. Four people were wounded in the attack at a western Sydney church, which the police said was an act of terror.

Mr Albanese said there was no place in Australia for violent extremism.

"We’re a peace-loving nation. This is a time to unite, not divide, as a community, and as a country," he said during a media conference.

Following Saturday’s attack, Mr Guerot said he, along with his friend Silas Despreaux, jumped into action without thinking of the consequences.

"We just saw him coming ... we were thinking, ‘We need to try to stop him’," Mr Guerot said in an interview with Australian TV network Channel Seven on Sunday.

As Mr Guerot brandished a plastic pole to attack Cauchi, he turned back and fled down the escalator. But the Frenchman did not stop and went after him with a chair.

"We tried to maybe throw the bollard to him but we couldn’t [get him]," Mr Guerot said.

A police officer was also behind Cauchi by then. Cauchi launched at the inspector Amy Scott to attack her with a knife and she shot him dead.

Police have said that they are continuing to investigate the motives of Mr Cauchi, aged 40, but have noted that he had mental health issues.

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