Family and friends of Brisbane bus driver Manmeet Sharma paid tribute to the ‘beacon of hope’ during an inquest into his firebombing death.
Family and friends of Manmeet Sharma, who was killed in a horrific firebombing attack at the hands of a mentally ill man, have paid tribute to the beloved Brisbane bus driver at the end of a coronial inquest.
Shocking evidence of the treatment and mental state of Mr Sharma’s killer Anthony O’Donohue has been heard over the past few days, including how O’Donohue was discharged from mental health care despite his delusional belief he was being surveilled by unions.
Mr Sharma, also known as Manmeet Alisher, was killed after O’Donohue threw a Molotov cocktail made of petrol and diesel fuel at him on October 8, 2016.
State Coroner Terry Ryan will now consider his decision after the inquest wrapped up on Wednesday.
An emotional video was played to the court describing Mr Sharma as “beacon of hope” whose life never had a dull moment.
“90 seconds, that was all. We could not fathom what he must have felt in the dwindling seconds of his life,” a family member of Mr Sharma says in the video.
“Manmeet was an inspiration, a man of dreams and great thinking.”
Mr Sharma was described as being “more than a son, brother and friend” and someone who was “loved and respected by everyone”.
Outside court, family friend Pinky Singh said they were “disturbed” by some of the evidence presented.
“There’s definitely a big communication gap within mental health areas.” she said.
“It is difficult for the family to understand how all the doctors have different statements to Anthony’s treatment … there’s still a lot of questions.”
Members of Mr Sharma’s family flew to Australia from India to attend the inquest.
Aman Bhangoo, another close family friend, said Mr Sharma was doing so much in the community and pursuing his personal dreams before he died.
“He a single-man army,” he said.
“It’s really hard for the family to digest … if he was here he would have been achieving a lot more for his family, society.
“He wanted to repay his parents, bring them over here and support his family.”
The inquest into Mr Sharma’s death was held to examine what mental health treatment O’Donohue received before the Moorooka incident and subsequent to his discharge, and assess what safety changes should be made to protect bus drivers.
Throughout the inquest, the court was told O’Donohue was diagnosed with a complex delusional disorder in which he believed he was being persecuted by unions.
Multiple doctors and psychiatrists who treated him gave evidence O’Donohue appeared independent and his treatment was improving.
A month after being discharged, O’Donohue sought treatment from his mental health facility but was refused.
He was charged with Mr Sharma’s murder but a court later declared him unfit for trial as he was of “unsound mind” and suffering from “a severe chronic psychotic illness” at the time of the attack.
O’Donohue is currently being held in a mental health facility for at least 10 years.
Former public transport and council staff also gave evidence of attempts to improve bus driver safety with partial barriers, on-board security officers and increased risk and safety training.
Tom Brown, state secretary for Queensland’s Rail, Tram and Bus union, said physical attacks on drivers were increasing.