Joel Cauchi: Who is the Bondi Junction mass murderer?

Dan Jervis-Bardy
The Nightly
5 Min Read
On April 8 – just five days before his murderous rampage through a Bondi Junction shopping centre – he put a call out on Facebook for surfing buddies.
On April 8 – just five days before his murderous rampage through a Bondi Junction shopping centre – he put a call out on Facebook for surfing buddies. Credit: The West Australian

Joel Cauchi always seemed to be looking for company.

On April 8 – just five days before his murderous rampage through a Bondi Junction shopping centre – he put a call out on Facebook for surfing buddies.

He made a similar appeal in January, only that time he was seeking fellow amateur photographers keen to capture the stars and moon from a “dark sky site”.

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On April 8 – just five days before his murderous rampage through a Bondi Junction shopping centre – he put a call out on Facebook for surfing buddies.
On April 8 – just five days before his murderous rampage through a Bondi Junction shopping centre – he put a call out on Facebook for surfing buddies. Credit: Joel Cauchi/Facebook

In late 2020, he wanted to meet up with people who “shoot guns”.

“Hi, I am looking for 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 wrote on Facebook.

The social media posts surfaced on Sunday, offering a small but chilling insight into Cauchi’s mind in the days, weeks and years before the violent stabbing spree that has horrified the entire nation.

Authorities in Queensland and NSW are now scrambling for answers to a tragic question: how can a 40-year-old man walk into a busy shopping centre on a Saturday afternoon and murder six people and injure a dozen others – including a nine-month-old baby?

The state’s assistant police commissioner, Roger Lowe, confirmed on Sunday that Cauchi, who was raised in Toowoomba, had never been charged or arrested with a criminal offence in Queensland.

But he was well known to authorities because of his mental problems, understood to be linked to a diagnosis of schizophrenia when he was in high school.

Bondi stabber Joel Cauchi posted in a group looking for guns
Bondi stabber Joel Cauchi posted in a group looking for guns Credit: Joel Cauchi/Facebook

Queensland Health said records showed Cauchi last received treatment in the public system in 2012 before he started seeing a private psychiatrist.

He also used drugs, including methamphetamine and psychedelics, according to reports.

Assistant commissioner Lowe said Cauchi had been living an “itinerant lifestyle” in recent years, bouncing between places in Queensland, including his family home.

Queensland police’s last interaction with him was during a “street check” on the Gold Coast in December 2023.

Then there’s the knives.

Cauchi was reportedly obsessed with the implements, so much so that his family – with whom he had infrequent contact – intervened to confiscate them.

Asked about the man’s alleged fixation with knives, Lowe said authorities were aware of an “event” in early 2023 involving family members, which was under investigation.

The Courier Mail reported Cauchi called police to claim “domestic violence” after his parents hid his knives from him.

Bondi Junction - A police operation is underway at one of Sydneys busiest shopping centre on reports of multiple stabbings. Credit: frostyjohnsonofficial/tiktok
Bondi Junction - A police operation is underway at one of Sydneys busiest shopping centre on reports of multiple stabbings. Credit: frostyjohnsonofficial/tiktok Credit: frostyjohnsonofficial/tiktok/supplied

In a statement issued by Queensland Police, the Cauchi family said they were “absolutely devastated” by the attack.

“Joel’s actions are truly horrific, and we are still trying to comprehend what has happened,” the statement read.

“He has battled with mental health issues since he was a teenager.”

One man who sharpened Cauchi’s knives described him as “weird”.

“Disturbed” was the word used by a neighbour of his childhood home.

A woman who briefly dated the man said he was a “recluse” and a “bit strange”.

A police operation is underway at one of Sydneys busiest shopping centre on reports of multiple stabbings.
A police operation is underway at one of Sydneys busiest shopping centre on reports of multiple stabbings. Credit: supplied/supplied

The character descriptions, paired with the Facebook callouts, paint the image of a loner.

While assistant commissioner Lowe said Cauchi was understood to be unemployed, it emerged on Sunday that he had been marketing himself as a male escort.

Now deleted posts, uncovered by The Australian, show Cauchi promoting himself as an “athletic, good-looking 39-year-old guy” and offering dozens of “closed-door” services.

“Let me gently massage all of your body and have me in any and every way,” the 40-year-old advertised on Escorts.Au.

Cauchi moved to NSW earlier this year, where – according to what his family told police – he was camping out in cars and hostels.

NSW authorities confirmed he had been renting a small storage unit in the city.

Bondi Junction - A police operation is underway at one of Sydneys busiest shopping centre on reports of multiple stabbings. Pictured is alleged attacker in blue shoes and yellow stripe shirt Credit: @worstcontrarian/X
Bondi Junction - A police operation is underway at one of Sydneys busiest shopping centre on reports of multiple stabbings. Pictured is alleged attacker in blue shoes and yellow stripe shirt Credit: @worstcontrarian/X Credit: @worstcontrarian/X/supplied

It is not known what exactly was stored in the unit or what Cauchi was doing in Sydney.

Last Monday at 7:38am, he posted a message to the 6000 members of a Facebook group for beginner surfers in Sydney.

“Hi. I am surfing Bondi this afternoon if anyone wants to meet for a surf!” he wrote.

Just minutes after hitting send, he uploaded a new profile picture of himself at the beach, standing in front of a large blue surfboard.

He was wearing a black wetsuit.

On Saturday, Cauchi, dressed in the green and gold jersey of Australia’s national rugby league team, walked into Saigon Noodle at Bondi Junction around 10am.

Bondi Junction - A police operation is underway at one of Sydneys busiest shopping centre on reports of multiple stabbings. Credit: @greekcitytimes/X
Bondi Junction - A police operation is underway at one of Sydneys busiest shopping centre on reports of multiple stabbings. Credit: @greekcitytimes/X Credit: @greekcitytimes/X/supplied

A restaurant worker told the Sydney Morning Herald that he was quiet and restless and did not finish his meal.

Cauchi entered Westfield Bondi Junction around 3.10pm wielding the large knife he used to stab six innocent people before he was shot and killed by NSW police inspector Amy Scott.

Young mother Ashlee Goode, architect Jade Young, security guard Faraz Tahir, Dawn Singleton – the daughter of advertising executive John Singleton – and artist Pikria Darchia, 55, have been identified as five of the victims.

Among the millions of Australians watching in horror at images of the terrifying rampage on TV were Cauchi’s parents.

Suspecting the man in the grainy footage might be their son, they alerted police.

After hours of frenzied online speculation about the killer’s identity and motive, Cauchi was unmasked by NSW assistant commissioner Anthony Cooke at a press conference on Sunday morning.

Assistant commissioner Cooke said there was no evidence to suggest Cauchi’s stabbing spree was ideologically motivated.

Instead, he pointed to the man’s mental health challenges.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese flew to Sydney on Sunday afternoon to lay flowers for the victims alongside NSW Premier Chris Minns and local MP Allegra Spender.

In a rare step highlighting the scale of the tragedy, Mr Albanese has requested that all Australian flags on Government buildings be flown at half-mast on Monday.

“The events of yesterday have shocked the nation,” Mr Albanese said on Sunday.

“Australians are waking up to try to deal with the shock and trauma that will come with what has occurred, with violent actions that are unspeakable and really just beyond comprehension.

“People going about their Saturday afternoon shopping should be safe, shouldn’t be at risk. But tragically, we saw a loss of life, and people will be grieving for loved ones today.”

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