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12 April 2024

Driver guilty of murdering six in Australia car rampage

Photo: AP


A driver who deliberately mowed down shoppers in the heart of Australia's second-largest city, killing six people and injuring 27, was found guilty of murder by a jury on Tuesday.

James Gargasoulas, 28, pleaded not guilty to the January 2017 rampage on Melbourne's Bourke Street, which police determined was not terror-related.

Bourke street, a popular shopping and restaurant area, was the scene of a deadly knife attack and attempted car bombing last Friday which police called a terror attack and which left two men dead, including the attacker.

The Supreme Court jury took less than an hour to find Gargasoulas guilty of 33 charges - six of murder and 27 of reckless conduct endangering life.

Those killed included a three-month-old baby in a pram, a 10-year-old girl and a Japanese student.

Victims and families wiped away tears as the jury foreman read out the guilty verdicts after the one-week trial, Melbourne's Herald Sun reported.

Prosecutor Kerri Judd earlier told the jury that "this is the clearest case of criminal liability that you will ever come across", the newspaper added.

Gargasoulas had told the court on Monday that he apologized "from the heart" for his actions.

"But that's not going to fix anything if I say sorry. Neither will a lengthy sentence fix what I've done."

He did not deny his involvement in the carnage -which took place near Melbourne Park where top tennis stars were playing in the opening Grand Slam of the year - and went on a rant, speaking about premonitions, with the judge having to interrupt him.

A plea hearing is scheduled for January 29 next year.

Another car rampage took place in December on nearby Flinders Street, leaving one person dead and more than a dozen injured.

Since then, Australian cities have boosted protections against vehicle attacks, including the installation of bollards and barriers.

The government also released a guide for businesses and local governments in August last year on how vulnerable their sites were to attacks and how to make them safer, with the report commissioned after deadly vehicle assaults in Barcelona, Nice and London.