Man wrongly named as stabber to sue Ch7


A 20-year-old university student who was wrongly named by Channel 7 as the Bondi stabber has engaged a top lawyer in a bid to sue for defamation.

Ben Cohen – who is a first-year computing studies student at UTS – had his name and photos go viral on Saturday after online trolls wrongly identified him as the man who killed six people at Bondi Junction Westfield.

The name was picked up by Channel 7 who reported the attacker as “40-year-old Benjamin Cohen” on Sunday morning. The name appeared on the Seven website, on its YouTube channel and on-air on Sunrise. No images of Mr Cohen were broadcast or published.

The organisation has since apologised for the error which has been blamed on “human error”.

Speaking to news.com.au on Wednesday, Mr Cohen has now engaged top lawyer Patrick George in a bid to sue for defamation.

Mr George is a principal lawyer at Giles George after joining the firm of high-profile reputational risk lawyer Rebekah Giles last month.

“It’s just all been a lot really,” Mr Cohen said about the recent days.

Mr Cohen’s father Mark said his family engaged Mr George after people online mentioned they should go to Ms Giles “multiple times”.

News.com.au was the first outlet to speak to the first-year computing student on Sunday as conspiracies spiralled online.

“It’s just gone crazy, it’s like look you’ve got the wrong guy,” he said.

“I think they’ve just gone for the first face that kind of looks the same and matches their own motives or what they wanted the story to be,” his father added.

Ms Giles is on a break after recently representing former Seven employee Taylor Auerbach in the high-profile Bruce Lehrmann defamation case, with Mr George picking up the case instead.

“The uproaring from the community was off the charts,” Mark said.

“There’s a lot of good people out there.”

Asked whether he would also seek damages from anyone online who wrongly named Mr Cohen, Mr George said his clients were only “proceeding against Channel 7 at this stage”.

Westfield makes huge call after Bondi deaths

Westfield Bondi Junction will be reopened for a “community reflection day” following the deaths of six people in a horrific stabbing rampage that sent shockwaves through Sydney.

Scentre group chief executive Elliott Rusanow said there would be no retail trade at the centre when the doors reopened on Thursday, instead saying members of the community could pay their respects.

Counselling and services will be on site to provide the necessary help before normal trading hours resume on Friday.

Some stores would choose not to reopen, Mr Rusanow said.

“This has been a very difficult time and I want to acknowledge the hard work and tireless efforts of our Westfield Bondi and Scentre Group teams,” he said.

“They have been working through conditions which have been devastating in their minds and in all our minds.”

“The centre will be quiet, allow for reflection to occur as members of the community are able to come and pay their respects.”

— with NCA NewsWire