Parents of Sydney knife attacker Joel Cauchi 'extremely sorry' after son kills six in mall rampage

Parents of Sydney knife attacker Joel Cauchi 'extremely sorry' after son kills six in mall rampage

The parents of Sydney shopping mall knife attacker Joel Cauchi say they are “very sorry” after their son killed six people in a mass stabbing.

Cauchi, 40, was shot and killed during his rampage on Saturday, in which police believe he targeted women.

He stabbed five women and one man while injuring 12 others, including a nine-month-old baby.

On Monday, Cauchi’s father Andrew Cauchi said he was “heartbroken” for the victims and “extremely sorry”.

"I’m just devastated. I made myself a servant to my son when I found out he had a mental illness,” said Mr Cauchi, 76, his voice breaking with emotion as he spoke outside his home in footage captured by Sky News.

"He's my son. And I'm loving a monster - to you, he's a monster. To me, he was a very sick boy."

Joel Cauchi (Facebook / Joel Cauchi)
Joel Cauchi (Facebook / Joel Cauchi)

Cauchi’s mother Michele Cauchi said: "This is a parent’s absolute nightmare, when they have a child with mental illness, that something like this could happen.

"And my heart goes out to the people our son has hurt. If he was in his right mind, he would be absolutely devastated at what he's done.

"But he obviously was not in his right mind. He'd somehow, had been triggered into a psychosis and he'd lost touch with reality."

In a statement issued via Queensland Police, Cauchi’s family previously said he had suffered mental health issues since he was a teenager.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims and those still undergoing treatment at this time,” they said in the statement.

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

“We are in contact with both the New South Wales Police Force and Queensland Police Service and have no issues with the police officer who shot our son as she was only doing her job to protect others, and we hope she is coping all right.”

Clockwise from top left: victims Cheng Yixuan, Ashlee Good, Pikria Darchia, Dawn Singleton, Faraz Tahir, and Jade Young (ES Composite)
Clockwise from top left: victims Cheng Yixuan, Ashlee Good, Pikria Darchia, Dawn Singleton, Faraz Tahir, and Jade Young (ES Composite)

Police said Cauchi’s family contacted authorities when they saw footage of the attack on television.

Those killed in Saturday’s attack were Sydney-based architect Jade Young, 47; Chinese student Yixuan Cheng, 27; Dawn Singleton, 25; Pikria Darchia, 55; Ashlee Good, 38; and mall security guard Faraz Tahir, 30.Ms Good’s nine-month-old daughter Harriet was also stabbed in the attack. Harriet underwent surgery and her condition improved on Sunday night, from critical to serious, health authorities said.

Seven other victims also remained in hospitals on Monday, in conditions ranging from critical to stable.

New South Wales state Police Commissioner Karen Webb said on Monday that detectives would question Cauchi's family in a bid to determine his motive.

Having reviewed CCTV footage, she said Cauchi appeared to target women while avoiding men.

Joel Cauchi, pictured during his rampage (twitter/ImMeme0)
Joel Cauchi, pictured during his rampage (twitter/ImMeme0)

"The videos speak for themselves, don't they? And that's certainly a line of inquiry for us," Ms Webb told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

"It's obvious to me, it's obvious to detectives that that seems to be an area of interest: that the offender had focused on women and avoided the men," she added.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told ABC Radio the breakdown of the victims was “concerning”.

Asked about any links between the attacker and misogynist networks, he said: “All of that investigation will take place. It will be comprehensive, and nothing will not be looked at in this matter.”

Emergency services were called to Westfield Bondi Junction in Sydney’s east just before 4pm on Saturday, following reports multiple people had been stabbed.

Witnesses described how Cauchi, wearing shorts and an Australian national rugby league jersey, ran through the shopping centre with a knife. Some shoppers and staff tried to stop him, while crowds took shelter in shuttered shops.

Emergency officers outside Westfield Shopping Centre in Sydney on Saturday (AP)
Emergency officers outside Westfield Shopping Centre in Sydney on Saturday (AP)

He was eventually shot and killed by police Inspector Amy Scott, who confronted him solo while he was on the rampage. Insp Scott is due to be interviewed by detectives on Tuesday.

Queensland Police assistant commissioner Roger Lowe told reporters in Brisbane that Cauchi, who he described as “itinerant”, had not been “prosecuted or arrested or charged for any offence within Queensland” and said the force was assisting police in New South Wales with the investigations.

Mr Lowe said: “He has been in contact with the police, primarily in the last four to five years would be the most contact we have had with him.

“During that contact we are aware that this individual has suffered from mental health [issues].”

Prime Minister Mr Albanese on Monday praised the “remarkable bravery” shown during the attack, particularly police inspector Scott who he said “ran towards danger and took this guy out and no doubt saved lives in doing so”.

“Today’s a day where people will hug their loved ones a little bit tighter,” he said in an interview with Triple M radio in Sydney. “And just to show that we’re a society that sticks together at times like this. Australians will stick together.”

People place flowers at the scene on Monday (AP)
People place flowers at the scene on Monday (AP)

Flags on government buildings around Australia flew at half-staff on Monday as a day of national mourning was declared to honour the victims. A black ribbon will appear on the sails of the Sydney Opera House on Monday night as part of a light display

Police gave control of the seven-story crime scene back to the mall operators on Sunday night, but a decision has yet to be announced on when it will reopen for business.

New South Wales state premier Chris Minns told ABC News the state government will look at creating a permanent memorial to the stabbing victims.

Describing it as a “terrible, terrible few days”, he announced up to 18 million Australian dollars (£9.3 million) for the coroner’s office in New South Wales to establish an independent inquiry.