Why Did Joel Cauchi Target Women? Father Says He Was “Frustrated Out Of His Brain”

"He wanted a girlfriend and he’s got no social skills."
State, federal and local leaders meet to lay flowers outside Bondi Junction. Image: Getty

As Australia reels in the wake of the devastating Bondi Westfield attacks, detectives are trying to make sense of a senseless tragedy and discover what may have been going through Joel Cauchi’s mind as he committed this horrific crime.

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb told ABC News Breakfast that there was an obvious similarity in the victims Cauchi chose in his rampage.

Of the six victims killed in the attack, five were women, while reports that of the 12 victims still hospitalised, most are females.

Some of the footage inside the shopping centre also appeared to show Cauchi dodging men who confronted him.

“The videos speak for themselves, don’t they? That’s certainly a line of inquiry for us. It’s obvious to me, it’s obvious to detectives that it seems to be an area of interest that the offender had focused on women and avoided the men,” Ms Webb told ABC News Breakfast.

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb speaks to the media. Image: Getty

While the gender breakdown is a line of enquiry, it’s important to note that detectives have not isolated why women were mostly targeted.

“We don’t know what was operating in the mind of the offender and that’s why it’s important now that detectives spend as much time interviewing those who know him, were around him, close to him, so we can get some insight into what he might have been thinking,” Ms Webb said.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese also noted that most of the victims are women.

“NSW Police have said they’re looking at that as part of the investigation. The gender breakdown is of course concerning,” he said.

“All of that investigation will take place, it will be comprehensive, and nothing will not be looked at in this matter,” he added.

Detectives are also investigating Cauchi’s mental health at the time, as he had a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

The Sydney Opera House illuminated with a black ribbon to honour the Bondi Junction victims. Image: Getty

Andrew Cauchi, Joel’s father, was interviewed by reporters outside his home on Monday. He expressed his sincere apologies for his son’s actions and explained that he had struggled with his mental health.

“I’m extremely sorry, I’m heartbroken for you. This is so horrendous that I can’t even explain it,” he said emotionally. “I love my son. I made myself a servant to my son when I found out he had a mental illness. I became his servant. I did everything because I love that boy.”

“I’m loving a monster. To you he’s a monster but to me he was a very sick boy,” he continued.

When asked why Cauchi may have targeted women, he did say that his son had been ‘frustrated’ with dating.

“He wanted a girlfriend and he’s got no social skills, and he was frustrated out of his brain,” he said.

However, Andrew also mentioned that after watching the footage, Cauchi’s body language made him believe that something else may have been going on with his son.

“I saw him having a meal at a restaurant, walk out of the restaurant and he just…fell into a shop. There’s something physically wrong besides mentally wrong with my son before he died,” he claimed.

Joel Cauchi had also recently reached out for company on social media, asking people on Facebook to join him for a surf and or join in rideshares to “interesting places reasonably close to Sydney”.

Whether or not his want for companionship and potential sense of loneliness played a part in the crime remains to be seen, but expert in the psychology of violent crimes Dr Samantha Phedran told, “A thread that often does emerge is mass murderers are often very socially isolated.

“They are often very, very lonely.”

Women gather to lay flowers to honour the victims. Image: Getty

While these early comments could elucidate new lines of enquiry for the police as they examine the crime, it’s important to stress that they have not yet concluded on the matter of Cauchi’s motive.

A coronial inquest is being set up to investigate Cauchi’s actions and the deaths of the six victims: Pikria Darchia, 55, Jade Young, 47, Ash Good, 38, Faraz Tahir, 30, Dawn Singleton, 25, and Yixuan Cheng.

NSW Premier Chris Minns has announced $18 million towards the inquiry. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Crime Stoppers.

In the meantime, those looking to help the families of those who have tragically lost their lives are welcome to donate to the families directly.

A number of GoFundMe’s have been set up for those killed, of which you can find below:

  • Jade Young’s GoFundMe: “Jade has a loving husband and two beautiful daughters who need support in the following weeks and months. Please help by donating whatever you can so they can have the time they need to grieve.”
  • Ash Good’s GoFundMe: “Ash was a ray of sunshine and positivity in every aspect of her life and died a hero saving her little girl from the most unspeakable evil…These funds are being collected for the benefit of Dan and Harriet to give them the freedom to go forward into the future without financial burden or worry.”
  • Faraz Tahir’s GoFundMe: “Support is needed for Faraz’s siblings, who face persecution and financial hardship. They wish to afford travel expenses to see their brother’s body before his burial and cover funeral costs. Your generosity will allow them to grieve together and honour Faraz’s memory with dignity. Your support will make a profound difference during this difficult time.”

At this stage, GoFundMe’s have not been set up for Dawn Singleton, Pikria Darchia or Yixuan Cheng.

The Australian Red Cross Lifeblood has also renewed their appeal for blood donations in the wake of the attacks. There is a particular demand for those with O-negative blood. Find more information here.

Related stories