Parents of Sydney mall killer Joel Cauchi say he was off his schizophrenia medication: ‘He let himself down’

The parents of Sydney shopping mall killer Joel Cauchi say they are deeply torn by their son’s actions.

Speaking to media on Monday, Andrew Cauchi said his son was a “beautiful” boy, who “let himself down” when he went off his medication.

Andrew spoke of his pain and his heartache for families who lost their loved ones when his son went on a rampage through Westfield Bondi Junction, killing six people and injuring more.

“I’m extremely sorry, I’m heartbroken for you,” Andrew said outside his Rockville home, near Toowoomba.

Joel Cauchi killed six people in a stabbing spree at Westfield Bondi Junction shopping mall in Sydney, Australia on April 13, 2024.

“This is so horrendous I can’t even explain it.

“I’m just devastated, I love my son.”

Andrew said his son had been diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was 17 for many years and had decided to come off his medication because he was feeling better.

“I made myself a servant to my son when I found out he had a mental illness, I became his servant because I loved that boy,” he said.

Andrew Cauchi said his son was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was 17, but recently stopped taking his medication. 9now

“He let himself down, he was taken off medication because he was doing so well but then he took off to Brisbane.

“You don’t know how beautiful this boy was. There’s no way, I did everything in my power to help my son.

“I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do or say to bring back the dead.

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

“I’d give my life for him. How do you love a monster and give birth to him.”

Police at the scene of the fatal stabbings in Sydney. STEVEN SAPHORE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

When asked why he thought his son had targeted women during the rampage, Andrew said he could understand why the NSW Police believe that was his motive.

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

Cauchi’s mother, Michele, said her son’s actions were “very out of character” despite his mental health battles.

“I’m so sorry about what our son has done,” Michele said on Monday.

“We don’t know why he did what he did, it was very out of character.

A family being evacuated from Westfield Bondi Junction after the attack. Photo by DAVID GRAY/AFP via Getty Images

“He was brought up in love, he was a loved child and he was under the care of his doctors for something like 18 years, he was taking his medication well and then he asked the doctor to come down on (the dose).

“He did so over a period of years.”

Michele said she didn’t think her son would have been cognizant of what he was doing when on the violent rampage through Westfield.

“This is a parent’s absolute nightmare when they have a child with a mental illness that something like this would happen,” she said.

“If he was in his right mind, he would be absolutely devastated about what he’s done.

“He obviously wasn’t in his right mind, he’s somehow been triggered into a psychosis and he’s lost touch with reality.”

Michele said before her son’s schizophrenia diagnosis, he was liked by everyone he knew.

“We’re just ordinary people who brought up our son as best we could,” she said.

“He got a degree, we helped him get a degree. Everyone was very supportive of him. His teachers loved him, he was top of the class, he worked hard.

“He had lots of friends when he was growing up. He had lots of friends until he got sick.”

Michele urged anyone who had a relative with a mental illness to reach out for support.

She explained how hard it can be to support someone who’s chosen to come off their medication because they’re feeling well enough.

Last year Cauchi had called the police alleging his father was domestically violent towards him. No charges were laid against either man.

Surveillance footage of Cauchi in the mall with a knife. 9News

Queensland Police Acting Assistant Commissioner Roger Lowe confirmed on Sunday police were aware of an incident involving the Cauchi family, where the 40-year-old had called police on his parents.

Andrew said his son had brought “six to seven US Army knives” into the family home, which he confiscated because he was concerned.

“I took US army knives off him when I took him up from Brisbane and he went mental, he exploded. He was really was angry,” Andrew said.

“He called the police and accused me of stealing his knives. I wasn’t stealing his knives, I was borrowing them.

“I was concerned having those knives in my house.

“I didn’t have concerns my son was going to hurt me but if your son walked in with five or six US Army knives, you’d be concerned.”

Andrew said he hoped would look at how they handle incidents involving people with mental health issues in the future.

“It’s horrendous to see your own son do this,” he said.

“I’m not blaming the police in Toowoomba or the police in NSW but the whole idea about mental illness (is) we have to step up our thinking (about) what they can do, how they can do it and what can be done about it.”

Flowers were delivered to their Darling Downs home west of Brisbane on Monday morning as Cauchi’s parents come to terms with their 40-year-old son’s actions and his death.

The couple have spent Monday morning trying to get through their household chores ahead of an expected visit from NSW Police detectives.

NSW Police Minister Yasmin Catley said investigators would be sent to Queensland following the fatal Bondi Junction attack.

“The NSW Police will send a contingent of investigators to Queensland to interview the family of the perpetrator and they will also have conversations and interviews with health and police in Queensland,” she said.

“That’s as we know where most of the interactions were with the perpetrator and that will help form part of the pieces to put together to determine how he ended up in NSW.”

It’s unclear when police are expected to arrive at the Rockville home.

The Cauchi family have lived in the quiet suburban home for more than 45 years, raising their son Joel in the Darling Downs community.

Late Sunday, the Cauchi family issued a statement in the wake of the fatal attack at Bondi Junction Westfield shopping center on April 13.

A black ribbon displayed on the Sydney Opera House to honor the victims. Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

“We are absolutely devastated by the traumatic events that occurred in Sydney yesterday,” they said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims and those still undergoing treatment at this time.

“Joel’s actions were truly horrific, and we are still trying to comprehend what has happened. He has battled with mental health issues since he was a teenager.”

They further extended their support to Inspector Amy Scott, who shot their son because she was “only doing her job to protect others and we hope she is coping alright.”

On Monday, his family told media they wouldn’t be making any further comment.

Cauchi had grown up in Toowoomba, attending Harristown State High School while a teenager.

A woman visiting a memorial for the victims of the attack. FLAVIO BRANCALEONE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

A former schoolmate shared on social media that he’d grown up with Cauchi, attending his Rockville home for play dates as a child.

“He was one of those ones at school that was shy, always a bit on the weird side, but whenever he did something it was always full-tilt,” the former schoolmate shared.

“In hindsight, he probably didn’t regulate that well.

“Dropped off the radar after school but to my knowledge he didn’t maintain any friendships with his circle of school friends.”

Queensland Police Acting Assistant Commissioner Roger Lowe said Cauchi had been diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was 17.

The 40-year-old had received treatment, but his mental health had declined “in the last number of years.”

Police believe Cauchi was last in contact with family in March but would “periodically text his mother with an update to where he was.”

The Police Minister confirmed that Cauchi didn’t have any interactions with NSW mental health services, “so he was unknown to NSW from that perspective.”

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