Accused bus driver killer 'numb' after multiple charges laid

Yahoo7 and agencies

The man accused of setting a Brisbane bus driver on fire is "numb" after being charged with murder, his lawyer says.

Anthony O'Donohue, 48, appeared briefly in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Saturday charged with killing Manmeet Alisher, 29, at a Moorooka bus stop the day before.

O'Donohue is also charged with arson and 11 counts of attempted murder relating to the passengers who were on the bus at the time of the fatal attack.

The suspect is said to be "numb" after the charges were laid. Image: 7News

Lawyer Adam Magill told the media he had concerns for his client's mental health, which needed to be assessed particularly because the heinous circumstances of the alleged offence did not "make sense".

"He's numb, I don't think he's feeling anything at this point in time," Mr Magill said.

"He's trying to come to terms with what happened himself."

O'Donohue will remain in custody until his case returns to court in late November.

There has been an outpouring of grief from Indians across Australia since the death of Mr Alisher, who was a prominent figure and beloved singer in the Punjabi community.

Mr Alisher was employed as a casual bus driver and had only been working in the job for several months.

Police said he did not stand a chance when O'Donohue allegedly climbed onto his bus just after 9am and hurled an incendiary device at him as he sat behind the wheel.

Mr Alisher was burned alive as passengers, including children, screamed and fought to escape the inferno.

Taxi driver Aguek Nyok who saw events unfolded has been praised as a hero for kicking out the back the back door of the bus to help those trapped inside.

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Anthony O’Donohue, 48, was among several people waiting for a bus on Friday.

“It was at that time one of the passengers entered onto the bus, poured a flammable liquid onto the driver…” NSW Police Superintendent Jim Keogh said.

Passengers on the bus became hysterical. There were six of them, including toddlers.

Witness Clair Savage said she could hear their screams from outside the bus.

The man accused of the crime is believed to have a history of mental illness. Photo: 7 News

“I heard people screaming and banging,” she said.

“They were trapped in the bus and the front cabin was just giant flames.”

Fearing an explosion, some ran from the bus but one taxi driver ran towards it.

Aguek Nyok said the smoke was so thick he could not see anyone, but he heard them.

As some ran away from the bus, taxi driver Aguek Nyok ran towards it and rescue the passengers trapped inside. Photo: 7 News

“Yeah, I broke the back door down,” he said.

"When I looked at the back door, people were lining up trying to get out, but they can’t.

“They were just crying and screaming, “Open the door, open the door. Let us out”.

All of the bus passengers were taken to hospital for treatment. Photo: 7 News

It took three kicks but Mr Nyok got them out.

Witnesses and police hailed Mr Nyok as a hero for his actions.

“Heroic, to say the least, and certainly jeopardized his own life” Supt Keogh said.

The passengers were all treated for minor injuries and smoke inhalation at hospital.

Manmeet Sharma was a well-known singer in Brisbane's Indian community. Photo: Supplied

Nobody, though, could save Mr Sharma.

What happened in Moorooka has sickened police but what truly astonishes them is the reaction of the man accused of doing this.

Senior sources have told 7 News that when detectives arrives Anthony O’Donohue was just sitting at the scene, casually saying absolutely nothing other than “I want a lawyer”.

Police delayed entering O’Donohoe’s nearby apartment for fear it may be booby-trapped.

Police delayed entry to Anthony O'Donohue's apartment for fear it may have been booby trapped. Photo: 7 News

The suspect has a history of mental illness, police say, never though as violent as what he is alleged to have done on Friday.

The victim, Manmeet Sharma’s, parents in India were told the horrific news on Friday afternoon Australian time.

He was a popular singer in Brisbane’s Indian community and was engage to be married next year.

He should not even have been working that route on Friday. He was doing a fill-in shift.