The man who killed Brisbane bus driver Manmeet Alisher by throwing a homemade “bomb” into his vehicle has been declared unfit to stand trial.
Anthony Mark Edward O’Donohue committed the attack at a bus stop in Moorooka, in Brisbane’s south on October 28, 2016.
As the bus pulled up, Mr O’Donohue lit a backpack containing a bottle filled with petrol and diesel and threw it at Mr Alisher, 29.
It caused an explosion and trapped 14 passengers inside the bus.
Heroic passers-by were able to kick and pull the doors open to rescue the passengers, but Mr Alisher, also known as Manmeet Sharma, could not be saved.
Mr O’Donohue — an undiagnosed schizophrenic — was charged with Mr Alisher’s murder, 14 counts of attempted murder and arson. The case was committed to Queensland’s Mental Health Court, which ruled on Friday that Mr O’Donohue was of unsound mind during the attack.
It means he will not face a criminal trial and the charges against will be discontinued.
On Friday, Judge Jean Dalton ordered Mr O’Donohue be kept and treated at in a high security section of The Park mental health facility in Brisbane. In a legal first, she ruled the order could not be revoked for 10 years, the maximum time allowed.
Psychiatrists told the court Mr O’Donohue was “dangerous” and was likely to suffer from his mental condition for the rest of his life.
Mr O’Donohue was a former accountant with two university degrees, but had suffered from mental illness since at least 2003. He had chosen to go off treatment in the year leading up to the attack, the court heard.
Psychiatrist Pamela van de Hoef said Mr O’Donohue was a conspiracy theorist who believed unions, police and governments were part of an ongoing campaign to ruin his life.
His delusional beliefs escalated to the point where he decided to target a bus driver because they were employees of the Brisbane City Council, Dr van de Hoef said.
Bus driver’s smile ‘prompted delusional attack’
On the morning of the attack, Mr O’Donohue left his unit in Moorooka after shouting at a woman and walked to a nearby bus stop, carrying the homemade bomb in a bag. He then boarded the first bus that arrived, the court heard.
“He was so overcome with delusional beliefs and then finally tragically believed the bus driver smiled at him, and it indicated the bus driver knew of the conspiracy,” Dr van de Hoef said.
“If the bus driver hadn’t smiled at him, who knows what would have happened.”
Mr O’Donohue then used a barbeque lighter to set off the device and threw it at Mr Alisher.
“He wanted an escape, if nobody was going to stop it he was going to make a statement to make it stop,” Dr van de Hoef said.
Another psychiatrist, Dr Michael Beech, said Mr O’Donohue had never been charged with a crime before the incident.
“He’s clearly dangerous … he doesn’t even believe that he needs treatment and I think he has the capacity to hide the severity of his thinking,” Dr Beech said.
Violent act not racially motivated: experts
Medical experts said they believed the attack was not racially motivated.
In sentencing, Judge Jean Dalton said Mr O’Donohue was deprived of the capacity to know not to commit the attack.
“He said he thought the people who were persecuting him would stop him as he walked to the bus stop, but nobody did,” she did.
The incident rocked Brisbane’s Indian community and made headlines in Mr Alisher’s home country of India. Mr Alisher’s family members flew to Brisbane to attend the hearing, and they were accompanied to the court by dozens of supporters.
Mr Alisher’s friend Winnerjit Goldy said the Indian community — both in his home state of Punjab and in Brisbane — had been devastated by the attack.
He said Mr Alisher was an aspiring singer and writer, who moved to Australia with the dream of becoming a “superstar”.
“In every aspect of his life, he was the backbone of his family. His marriage was planned … but all these dreams are shattered,” Mr Goldy said.
Mr Goldy said the Indian community wanted justice, and wanted to know who was responsible for preventing the attack if Mr O’Donohue was not in control of his own actions.
The attack prompted the Brisbane City Council to agree to improve safety measures on buses. The changes included extra emergency buttons and a new rear exit window being fitted, but not all of the changes have been implemented.
But in 2017, the Rail, Tram and Bus Union said it was disappointed the council had not agreed to its request to have guards stationed on the buses.
Topics: law-crime-and-justice, murder-and-manslaughter, community-and-society, mental-health, moorooka-4105, qld, brisbane-4000