Man charged over alleged university stabbings, assaults

A man has faced court over attacks at the Australian National University in Canberra.

A man has faced court over attacks at the Australian National University in Canberra. Photo: AAP

A man who allegedly stabbed two women multiple times and hit two students over the head with a frying pan at a Canberra university will remain behind bars.

Alex Ophel, 24, is charged with two counts of attempted murder over the incident at the Australian National University on Monday, along with two counts of assault and one count of possessing an object to be used to kill.

The two women were taken to hospital in Canberra and remained there on Tuesday in serious but stable conditions.

The 20-year-olds were being treated for multiple stab wounds while a 34-year-old man and another man were treated at the scene for minor injuries.

Police wouldn’t comment on the accused’s mental health status, but were still investigating the context of the incident and why he was on the ANU grounds.

Ophel, who was wearing a grey tracksuit and thongs, didn’t apply for bail when he faced the ACT Magistrates Court for a second time on Tuesday morning.

Earlier, his lawyer had asked for more time to speak with Ophel and “see if he can understand me”, indicating he wasn’t confident he had accurately taken instructions due to the accused’s mental state.

Ophel was remanded to re-appear in court on October 17, by which time a mental health assessment will be undertaken.

The incident is believed to have taken place between the Chifley Library and the Fellows Oval.

Police do not believe Ophel was known to the alleged victims.

But Detective Acting Superintendent Stephanie Leonard said he had prior interactions with police.

“Obviously any violent offence is concerning. ANU and Canberra are usually very safe places and incidents like this are extremely rare,” she said.

Police allege Ophel initially hit a male student on the head with a frying pan before the victim fled the scene.

They say the accused then stabbed the first female student multiple times before chasing the second woman and stabbing her, also on multiple occasions.

It’s alleged the man then approached a second male student and struck him with the frying pan.

Police did not know why the accused had a frying pan.

They were directed to his location by witnesses and he was taken into custody.

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