Disability, mental health check for accused terror teen

Sam McKeith and Jack Gramenz |

NSW Police are still seeking up to 50 people who attacked officers outside a church.
NSW Police are still seeking up to 50 people who attacked officers outside a church.

A teenage boy facing a possible life term in prison for terrorism over the stabbing of a bishop has shown behaviour consistent with mental illness or intellectual disability, his lawyer says.

The 16-year-old is accused of travelling 90 minutes from his home to attack Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel during a live-streamed sermon at Christ the Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley on Monday night.

Investigators from a joint counter-terrorism team, incorporating state and federal police and ASIO staff, interviewed the boy in his hospital bed on Thursday before charging him with committing a terrorist act.

The Commonwealth offence carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

The teenager did not appear in court during a brief mention of the case on Friday, when he was refused bail at a bedside hearing.

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel
Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was allegedly stabbed during a church sermon. (HANDOUT/Christ of Good Shepherd Church)

A brief of evidence is due to be served when the matter returns to court on June 14.

The 16-year-old’s lawyer, Greg Scragg, said he may seek an earlier date, having been instructed the boy had a long history of behaviour consistent with a mental illness or intellectual disability.

“We may seek to bring this matter back earlier if a question arises in relation to his treatment or assessment for those conditions whilst he’s in custody,” he told Parramatta Children’s Court.

The magistrate made a recommendation for the boy to be assessed by JusticeHealth while in custody.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw earlier said investigators believed the attack met the criteria of a terrorism act, but he refused to go into further detail.

Authorities previously said the stabbing was declared an act of terror because of the teenager’s suspected religious motivation.

The church where a bishop was stabbed, prompting a riot.
Christ The Good Shepherd Church where a bishop was stabbed, prompting a riot. (Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS)

Bishop Emmanuel was stabbed up to six times, causing serious lacerations to his head, while a priest was also injured in the attack.

The teenager was also injured during the attack and its aftermath.

He allegedly made comments in Arabic that referred to insults against “my prophet” before stabbing Bishop Emmanuel, who has publicly criticised Islam and other religions.

Leaders from the Lebanese Muslim community in Sydney have said the 16-year-old’s family did not believe he had been radicalised online before the attack.

Police are still hunting for as many as 50 people involved in a riot that unfolded after the incident at the Assyrian church.

Dozens of police were injured, their cars vandalised and a cohort of officers and paramedics were forced to shelter inside the place of worship, prompting religious leaders to call for calm.

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb and AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw.
NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb and Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw. (Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS)

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb said extra police were out in force with a high-visibility operation “for as long as needed to reassure the community we are there to keep them safe”.

“We have deployed extra officers since Monday night particularly in southwest Sydney but across Sydney to patrol places of worship,” she said.

“The community should have no concerns for their safety.”

In an audio message, Bishop Emmanuel said he forgave his attacker and called on his followers to obey the law.

“I need you to act Christ-like, the lord Jesus never taught us to fight,” he said in the message from hospital, shared on Thursday.

Dani Mansour, 19, from Doonside, was the first person to be charged over the public disorder incident.

He appeared in court on Thursday, saying he made a mistake but he was “pissed off” at officers who had hurt people outside the church.

He allegedly filmed himself kicking two police cars during the riot before uploading the footage to Instagram.

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