Wakeley church attack: Terrorism charge for boy, 16, who allegedly stabbed bishop

Natalie Wolfe
The Nightly
2 Min Read
Bishop Emmanuel was allegedly attacked in a stabbing frenzy in Wakeley Sydney.
Bishop Emmanuel was allegedly attacked in a stabbing frenzy in Wakeley Sydney. Credit: Unknown/X formerly Twitter

The 16-year-old boy who allegedly attacked a bishop in a Sydney church is facing life in prison after police charged him with committing a terrorist act.

The boy, who remains in hospital after one of his fingers was severed in the aftermath of the alleged attack, was charged on Thursday night.

Police allege the boy was in the Christ the Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley, in Sydney’s west, just after 7pm on Monday when he approached Bishop Emmanuel Mar Mari and repeatedly stabbed him with a knife.

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Following an investigation from the Joint Counter Terrorism Team, the boy was charged with committing a terrorist act. The offence carries a maximum penalty of imprisonment for life.

He was refused bail and is expected to appear before a bedside court hearing on Friday.

The alleged attack left Bishop Emmanuel with significant injuries to his head.

A 39-year-old man also sustained lacerations and a shoulder wound when he attempted to intervene.

On Wednesday, prominent Muslim leader Dr Jamal Rifi said on behalf of the 16-year-old’s family that they were distraught over his alleged involvement and had moved out of their home due to the intense media interest in the attack which triggered a riot and was designated a terrorist incident.

Hundreds of people descended on the Christ the Good Shepherd Church after the stabbing occurred while Bishop Emmanuel was giving a sermon that was live-streamed across multiple platforms and watched by tens of thousands of people.

Up to 51 police officers were injured during the riot and multiple police vehicles were smashed and damaged. Supplied / X (Twitter)
Up to 51 police officers were injured during the riot and multiple police vehicles were smashed and damaged. Supplied / X (Twitter) Credit: Supplied

Riot squad officers battled to protect the church as worshippers attacked police vehicles, shattering windows and slashing tyres along Welcome Street as a helicopter flew overhead.

Rioters threw projectiles including bricks and metal fence posts at police, with 58 officers injured including two who were hospitalised.

About 51 police vehicles were damaged, including 29 that are now unusable.

Police later raided a home in Doonside, where a 19-year-old man was arrested for his involvement in the riot.

Political and religious leaders have called for calm and unity in the wake of the attack. National security experts also warned of potential copycats.

John Coyne, head of Strategic Policing and Law Enforcement at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, on Wednesday said ASIO and the intelligence community had for years held concerns over the online radicalisation of young people.

He said terrorism was an enduring problem in Australia and it was possible there could be further attacks given the terror threat level was at “possible”.

The Joint Counter Terrorism Team Sydney is comprised of members from the NSW Police Force, Australian Federal Police, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and NSW Crime Commission.

With files from Remy Varga

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