Church rioters ‘underestimated’ detectives, police say

Samantha Lock and Nyk Carnsew |

An unruly group of alleged rioters facing court over the ugly melee that broke out outside a Sydney church underestimated the tenacity of detectives and were already a concern to the community, police say.

Another six people have been charged over violent riots outside Christ the Good Shepherd Church following the stabbing of a bishop during a live-streamed sermon in Wakeley.

The latest arrests take the tally of those facing court to 29 people.

The April 15 riot, which investigators say swelled to involve 2000 people and injured several police officers, followed the stabbing of Assyrian bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel and priest Isaac Royel.

A damaged police car (file image)
Several police officers were injured during the unrest which police say involved about 2000 people. (Paul Braven/AAP PHOTOS)

Six people were arrested on Thursday, including a 17-year-old boy.

Police released vision of five men, aged between 20 and 41, as well as the teenager on Friday.

A further seven men are being urged to contact police.

Superintendent Andrew Evans described the number of arrests made so far as a “fantastic result”.

“Over the course of the investigation, we’ve released images of 18 individuals of which … 14 have been identified and 13 persons charged,” he said.

The group “underestimated the tenacity of police and detectives” Supt Evans said.

“We will continue to investigate those matters until the seven individuals are in custody and facing justice before the courts.”

Supt Evans said detectives painstakingly trawled through forensic evidence, CCTV footage as well as officers’ body-worn cameras to identify those involved. 

He also noted community members had spoken to police regarding their concerns over some of the men’s behaviour.

“If they’re prepared to assault police in a serious manner, I’d be concerned about their behaviour generally in the community and certainly the information we’ve received from the community would support that notion,” he said.

Police at Wakeley church riot
Detectives have painstakingly trawled through forensic evidence and CCTV footage from the riot. (Paul Braven/AAP PHOTOS)

The latest developments include a 41-year-old man charged with rioting who is set to appear at Fairfield Local Court on July 3.

A 31-year-old man was also charged with rioting, destroying or damaging property and throwing a missile at a police officer.

He was granted conditional bail and to appear at Liverpool Local Court on July 1.

A 20-year-old man was charged with threatening violence to cause fear, unlawful assembly and behaving in an offensive manner.

He will also appear at Fairfield Local Court on July 3.

A 29-year-old man and a 20-year-old man were charged with similar offences and will both appear at the same court, the first on July 10 and the latter on July 17.

The 17-year-old boy was charged with rioting and destroying or damaging property during a public disorder.

He was granted conditional bail to appear at Parramatta Children’s Court on July 12.

The teenager allegedly responsible for the stabbing attack was charged in May with committing a terrorist act.

On Friday, fresh charges were levelled against the 16-year-old, including wounding with intent to murder and wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Christ The Good Shepherd Church (file image)
The teenager charged over the stabbing will face court on Friday. (Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS)

The charges are in addition to the existing charge of committing a terrorist act.

Parramatta Children’s Court was told investigators identified 52,000 images and 7500 videos on the teen’s phone, some of which will require a terrorism evidence notice to access.

The 16-year-old had received intermittent treatment for mental health issues for a number of years, his lawyer said during an earlier court appearance.

His charge of committing a terrorist act carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.