Australia offers citizenship to Frenchman who blocked knifeman

‘Bollard man hero’ can ‘stay as long as he likes’, says Australian PM after fatal attack in Sydney

Frenchman Damien Guerot blocked the attacker from climbing to another floor on the escalator at the Westfield Bondi Junction shopping centre, and has been hailed a hero

Australia has offered permanent residency to a Frenchman who chased down the knifeman who killed six people at a shopping centre in Sydney last Saturday (April 13).

Damien Guerot, a French tradesperson living in Australia, has been nicknamed ‘bollard man’ and hailed a hero after he fought off the attacker on an escalator using a bollard, in a bid to stop the man from stabbing anyone else.

The attacker has been identified as Joel Cauchi, a 40-year-old who had mental health issues. He stabbed and killed five women and a security agent at the Westfield Bondi Junction centre on Saturday April 13, before he was chased down and shot dead by Police Inspector Amy Scott.

‘Stay as long as you like’

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has now thanked Mr Guerot for his “extraordinary bravery”. He said: “I say this to Damien Guerot - who is dealing with his visa applications - that you are welcome here, you are welcome to stay for as long as you like.

“We would happily welcome him as an Australian citizen, even though it would be a loss for France…and I thank Damien for his extraordinary efforts.

“It says a lot about the nature of humanity at a time when we are facing difficult issues, that someone who is not a citizen of this country stood bravely at the top of those escalators and stopped this perpetrator from getting on to another floor and potentially inflicting further carnage on citizens.”

Mr Guerot was also reportedly helped by another Frenchman, Silas Despreaux, another tradesperson.

Macron: ‘We are proud and grateful’

French President Emmanuel Macron has also praised Mr Guerot and Mr Despreaux, and sent condolences to Australia. Writing on X (formerly Twitter), he said: “Our condolences to the Australians hit by an attack on a shopping centre in Sydney on Saturday. Two of our compatriots behaved like true heroes. We are very proud and grateful.”

Mr Albanese also thanked Ms Scott for her bravery. He said: “I think that on Saturday we saw some of the best of human character at the same time as we saw such devastating tragedy.”

‘Something positive from the tragedy’

Mr Guerot has now said that the Prime Minister’s offer was “amazing news”, and told his lawyer that he had already been contacted by the department of immigration.

Guerot told his lawyer, Belinda Robertson, after being contacted by the department of immigration. He was told he would be informed on when permanent residency can be officially granted “as soon as possible”.

Ms Robertson told The Guardian Australia: “It is truly heartwarming for something positive to come out of all the pain and tragedy.”