Wakeley attack: Family of teenager arrested over stabbing Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel breaks silence

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Remy Varga
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was just attacked in a stabbing frenzy live in Wakeley Sydney.
Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was just attacked in a stabbing frenzy live in Wakeley Sydney. Credit: Unknown/X formerly Twitter

The family of a boy arrested after an Assyrian bishop was stabbed during a live-streamed sermon at a church in Sydney’s west says their son suffers from outbursts of anger and has repeatedly apologised after the attack.

Prominent Muslim leader Dr Jamal Rifi said on behalf of the 16-year-old’s family on Wednesday that they were distraught over his alleged involvement and had moved out of their home due to the intense media interest over the attack at the Christ The Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley, which triggered a riot and has been designated a terrorist incident.

Dr Rifi said the family, who are from Lebanon, had taken the teenager to multiple psychiatrists over anger management issues but said they hadn’t been given a formal diagnosis.

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“He had outbursts and anger management issues and he easily had outbursts being angry and sometimes for no good reason,” said Dr Rifi, who was Australian of The Year in 2015.

Dr Rifi said the parents had visited the teenager in the hospital, where he is receiving treatment after severing his finger during the attack, and said the 16-year-old expressed remorse.

“They found him remorseful and he just kept telling his mother ‘I am sorry, I am sorry’ and he kept apologizing for what he did,” said Dr Rifi.

NSW Police arrested the 16-year-old after the attack on Monday night, which was live-streamed to tens of thousands of people across multiple social media platforms.

Vision of the attack shows someone in a black hoodie approaching the pulpit before drawing a knife above his head and repeatedly stabbing Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel in the head and body.

The screams of parishioners as they pull the attacker off the bishop can be heard on the footage as well as the thud of the knife making contact.

Dr Rifi said the family said the knife hadn’t been drawn from the sheaf and the hits on Bishop Emmanuel were “blunt”.

“The hit was blunt but not on the cutting edge because the cutting edge was still in the handle of the night itself,” he said.

NSW Police Minister Yasmin Catley on Wednesday told Sky that police had yet to interview the teenager as he hadn’t been discharged by medical professionals.

Dr Rifi said the family said earlier reports that the boy had been charged over possessing a knife were incorrect and what had actually transpired was that the teenager met a friend at a train station who had a knife.

Dr Rifi said the parents of the boy were assisting police with the investigation and had spent the last 72 hours out of their minds.

“They’re too afraid to go home, they are staying with a relative,” said Dr Rifi.

“The mother is distraught, the father... can’t understand what happened and he is just too afraid to go home.”

Dr Rifi said the 16-year-old went to the station and the train arrived, with his friend asking him to hold the train for him.

“So the boy held the door open for him and that actually got the security involved and the other boy that was coming to see him, he had a knife,” said Dr Rifi.

“That ended up in court, he wasn’t charged and he was let off on a good behaviour bond.”

Dr Rifi said the teen’s parents were compiling documents from his treating psychologist as well as the general practitioner who referred him for treatment.

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