The Truth Behind Sydney’s ‘Crazy Man Attacking Bus’

In recent days, disturbing videos have surfaced on social media and television networks of a young man attacking a Sydney bus by smashing the windscreen glass and cutting himself in the process. He has been called a crazy man, a zombie, an ice or meth addict or said to be on some kind of drug.

As his closest friend and with support from his mother, it was important for us to set the record straight in the midst of such false portrayals and hurtful comments circulating about my friend. Before I continue though, it is so important for us to recognise that in this age of technology where any picture or video can go viral overnight, that a mere picture or video will never and can never show the full story or context of any situation. While the media plays an important role in bringing to light incidents such as this, we as a society mustn’t be so quick to judge, especially if we don’t know the whole story.

The man in the video, who unfortunately has already been named by the media to be Tim Wynberg, is not the man those that are close to him, know and love. The man in the video is exhibiting what mental illness can do to someone, but I don’t see my friend Tim. The exact diagnosis of Tim’s mental illness isn’t definitive at this point in time, but he does suffer from some kind of mental illness. And no- Tim was not intoxicated, on meth, ice or any kind of drug before, during or after this incident.

It may be hard to believe after seeing his behaviour on video, but Tim is actually such a loving, generous, thoughtful and sensitive person with a very happy disposition. It is very frustrating for those who know and love him to see him being portrayed as someone he just is not. His mother wants people to know that it is a chemical imbalance in the brain that causes this sort of illness and it is not Tim’s fault. She says that while he is in a lot of pain, he didn’t hurt anyone else, only himself and that he wouldn’t ever harm anyone.

The viral video of Tim shows exactly what mental illness can do to someone, but the video says more about us as a society than it does of my friend Tim. The media and the public’s response to the viral videos of Tim were people calling him a crazy, drugged up person which sadly demonstrates how unaware, unequipped and uneducated we as a society are towards mental illness. More importantly, as was seen in the viral video, the passengers who can be heard “heckling” (understandably so) my friend, only appeared to aggravate his behaviour, which shows just how unequipped we are as a society to recognise and subsequently deal with those suffering from mental illness.

While I strongly condemn violence of any kind, I don’t believe he is danger to society, I think if anything, he’s more of a danger to himself than to others. It’s so easy for us to say that people who display such behaviour are not fit to participate in society, but according to SANE Australia, the National Mental Health Charity, approximately 20% of adults in Australia suffer from some sort of mental illness every year. Mental illness is a real issue. We must aim to help, instead of condemn and criticise. There needs to be greater awareness of mental illness and its effect on people, we need to get rid of the stigma and judgment around mental illness, we need to educate ourselves on how it works and learn how to help people who are suffering from a mental disorder. Tim’s mother believes more research needs to be done on person-centred holistic care in mental health.

Having said all this, I don’t intend to excuse his actions, I just want to explain his actions. I want the world to know that he isn’t the person you see in the video. However, I completely understand how confronting and concerning the video is to watch and I realise how frightened and shaken up the other passengers would have been, but the sad truth is that this kind of behaviour is something that people with friends or family members with mental illness, know all too well, maybe not to this degree, but it happens. And for anyone offended by the racial slurs he allegedly made, I would like to sincerely apologise on behalf of Tim and assure you that he is not racist in the slightest and definitely did not mean to offend anyone. He really is a very caring and loving person and it’s upsetting that the media isn’t seeing the Tim I know and love.

Tim is currently receiving medical assistance. He is also being charged with common assault and malicious damage. He suffers from mental illness but does not belong in the criminal justice system, he is not a bad person so hopefully the legal system will appropriately take this into consideration.

If you know of anyone that may be suffering from mental illness, contact SANE, the National Mental Health Charity Helpline on 1800 18 7263.

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6 thoughts on “The Truth Behind Sydney’s ‘Crazy Man Attacking Bus’

  1. I’m sorry but you are mistaken in your evaluation of the incident. You say that Tim did not harm anyone, only himself. I am an ex-bus driver that on numerous occasions dealt with incidents like the one displayed in the footage. I still deal with the harm and I left the industry over 3 years ago. I will never be the same. My family dealt with it at the time with the emotional rollercoaster I would find myself on after facing aggression on that sort of level.
    And then there is the physical harm. Smashing a laminated windscreen, even if you do not penatrate it, sends tiny razor-sharp slivers of glass from the inside layer flying everywhere. I would still be finding pieces of glass embedded in my skin upto 7 weeks later. All this because I was doing my job, trying to earn a living to provide for my family.
    So whilst I do have a certain level of empathy for people with mental health issues and agree that people should not jump to the conclusion that the person must have been high on drugs, you cannot dismiss the harm that Tim has caused to all those people on that bus by his violent actions.
    I do also have to question the level of loss of control that Tim experienced as he did still have the cognitive function to know what he was doing was wrong as exhibited by his attempt to flee the scene and hide.

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    • Craig, I can only imagine how traumatising seeing that would be as a bus driver. I don’t deny that. My focus wasn’t an evaluation of the incident but was to provide an explanation of what was going on with the man involved in the incident.

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  2. “No one can make you do anything, but yourself. No matter the condition you are in, weather it be a mental illness or anger, ultimately it is you who decides what you are doing,” Said by a great man, that has kept me out of trouble for years.

    I suffer from chronic anger and depression. I’m always in a bad mood, even if I appear to be in a good one. I am always depressed over nothing, but since the death of my brother, I am depressed deeply everyday, from the moment I wake to the moment I sleep. My dreams are not nice. My mind is slipping every day, and I’m only 24 years old.

    No matter where I am, and even without pills that I ‘should’ be on, I suffer around people because I do not like them. Because of this reason, and because of modern society. I don’t like any of it. I do something like this, I wouldn’t be standing in a picture smiling about it. I would be in jail, just as this man should be. The guy doesn’t suffer any mental illness, you can’t even put a name to it.

    You are only allowing such actions to be committed by influencing him that they are not of his own decisions. I am messed up, but I don’t go around beating up busses with people, that is wrong, and against the law.

    I’m sorry, but from someone with something very possible seriously wrong with them, this guys actions are out of anger from being removed from the bus, not from a mental illness.

    The fact you allow and condone such action because of a ‘mental illness’ says a lot about your morals. As long as the person is messed up, it’s not their fault, its the illnesses. Let’s set a loaded gun on a chair, and see how much damage it will do.

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    • Tony, the spectrum of mental illness goes so much further than chronic anger and depression. Schizophrenia, paranoia and other such mental impairments control the mind a lot more than I think u understand. Just because u can control your anger does not mean the next person physiologically can…

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  3. Having been on the receiving end of a rage attack in the surf at Narrabeen not unlike this, fuelled by meth, let me share with you that you are minimising and facilitating his illness. You cannot say at all that no-one else was harmed. You are not helping.

    I lost a lot of friends out of my incident because of the way it impacted me with “acting out”, sending the ripples out yet further again. I know what I was doing was unethical and dangerous, but I just didn’t care. Those friends who ended up shunning me because of my behaviour were probably right to do so. I ended up getting out of that sport that I loved as a result.

    The thing is, those incidents do show what the individual is like. My acting-out showed what I was like. I’ve owned it. I said to myself, if I don’t take responsibility for fixing this, who will? I sought counselling for anger management. It helped enormously.

    I understand that he is broken and how that happened is not necessarily his fault. However, his daily decisions about what he thinks about and chooses to dwell upon *are* within his control. Take that medication now, get to bed on time, write down those goals, make a plan to get there, work the plan, come back to it straight away when you stray…. do it every day.

    Your best course of action is to help him own his illness. If he doesn’t, who will?

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