‘Want to go home’: Alleged rioter speaks out

The first man has been charged over a riot sparked by a preacher’s stabbing.
The first man has been charged over a riot sparked by a preacher’s stabbing.

A man charged over a chaotic riot sparked by the stabbing of preacher Mar Mari Emmanuel will be released on bail, as a court heard new details of his alleged actions.

Dani Mansour, 19, was arrested at a home on Powers St in Doonside on Wednesday and charged with riot, affray, and destroy or damage property during public disorder.

Appearing before Blacktown Local Court on Thursday, Mr Mansour was granted strict conditional bail by Magistrate Aaron Tang, including curfew, and strict reporting.

Dani Mansour (right) left Blacktown police station after making bail on charges riot, affray and destroy/damage property during public disorder. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw
Dani Mansour spoke to media after leaving Blacktown police station after making bail. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw

Before being hurried away by his family, Mr Mansour told reporters outside of court on Thursday: “I just went there. I saw, like, too much people.

“I thought it was only going to be like five or ten people there at the church. But, after I saw it’s bigger, I told my mate ‘I just want to go home’.”

Mr Tang earlier condemned the alleged actions of rioters who are accused of damaging police cars and injuring officers following the preacher’s alleged stabbing.

“There is no place in our society for vigilante justice. Police have a difficult role to play. They were attending to do their job and assist the church community,” he said.

Mr Tang said police and paramedics were confronted with a “volatile environment” and condemned the alleged actions of rioters as contravening Christian tenets.

“While the court acknowledges the traumatic impact of the stabbing on the community, those involved in the alleged riot acted in a reprehensible way,” he said.

The court was told Mr Mansour’s alleged actions were “relatively minor”, accused of recording himself kicking two police cars and uploading it to his Instagram.

Dani Mansour was arrested at a property in Doonside. Picture: NSW Police
Dani Mansour was arrested at a property in Doonside. Picture: NSW Police

In granting bail, Mr Tang said the social media evidence would be put before the court, “particularly of him filming himself involved in the riot and damaging police cars.”

Mr Tang expressed concerns that “ongoing tensions in the community flowing from the (alleged stabbing)” could impact Mr Mansour’s risk of allegedly reoffending.

Under conditions of his release, Mr Mansour will be barred from accessing social media, placed on “essentially house arrest”, and will report to Blacktown police station.

The barber was supported in court by his mother, Rima, and immediate family, who are not accused of any wrongdoing, and will reappear before the court on May 2.

The matter will be sent on that date to the NSW Director of Public Prosecution, which handles more serious criminal cases in the state, for consideration.

His lawyer, Ms Francis, earlier told the court he had no criminal record and was the only person in his immediate family, with whom he resided, who was currently employed.

“While certainly the incident outlined in the facts is very serious, the actions alleged by Mr Mansour are relatively minor compared to the rest of the fact sheet,” she said.

Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was stabbed at his Sydney church on Monday night. Picture: Supplied
Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel was stabbed at his Sydney church on Monday night. Picture: Supplied

Ms Francis argued concerns could be addressed through a social media ban and a non-contact restriction with other people who are alleged to have attended the riot.

Magistrate Aaron Tang questioned whether such an order was feasible given some 2000 people are alleged to have attended the public order event outside the church.

Police prosecutor Reuben Van Der Byl, who opposed bail, said investigations were continuing to identify others present and that Mr Mansour “would know who they are”.

Sgt Van Der Byl told the court police had a “strong case”, and opposed bail on concerns Mr Mansour may endanger the community or interfere with witnesses.

If found guilty and convicted, he told the court Mr Mansour was likely to receive a full-time custodial sentence with one charge carrying a 15-year maximum term.

Thousands of men clashed with specialist police, including the riot squad and dog squad, on Monday night following Bishop Emmanuel’s alleged stabbing.

The preacher was delivering service on livestream video at the Christ The Good Shepherd Church when he was stabbed multiple times before parishioners intervened.

Flowers were left outside the church after the attack. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Swift
Police swept the church grounds on Tuesday. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Monique Harmer

Police arrested a 16-year-old boy at the scene but faced stiff opposition from a large mob who were caught on video smashing patrol cars and damaging property.

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb said two officers suffered serious injuries and vowed in recent days to prosecute the offenders.

“That is unacceptable and those that were involved in that riot can expect a knock at the door … We’ll find you and we’ll come and arrest you,” Ms Webb said on Tuesday.

Car windscreens were smashed in the riot. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

The attack on the popular church leader sparked outrage among the state’s politicians and religious leaders who issued a joint statement condemning the attack.

Bishop Emmanuel called on his followers on Tuesday to vacate the Liverpool hospital where he remains, though the church has yet to confirm his condition.

The 16-year-old boy also remained in hospital on Wednesday having severed his own finger in the melee. Police will speak with the teen once he has been cleared by staff.