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04 March 2024

Driver who killed six in Australia car rampage sentenced to life

Photo: AP


A driver who killed six people in a rampage along a Melbourne shopping street was sentenced to life Friday for what a judge described as one of Australia's worst mass murders.

The January 2017 attack at Bourke Street mall, a popular shopping area, rocked Australia's second-largest city, with a three-month-old baby, a 10-year-old girl and a Japanese student among the victims.

James Gargasoulas, 29, also injured dozens of people when he drove his car into shoppers, in a killing spree that police determined was not terror-related.

Witnesses described "bodies flying through the air" and people running out of the path of the speeding vehicle.

At the Supreme Court in Victoria state, Gargasoulas was handed life sentences for six counts of murder and told he would serve a minimum of 46 years in prison.

Despite being in a "drug-induced psychosis" under the effects of methamphetamine, Judge Mark Weinberg said he was fully aware of his actions on the day of the killings.

"This was one of the worst examples of mass murder in Australian history," he said.

A jury last July took less than an hour to convict Gargasoulas, who was also found guilty of 27 counts of reckless conduct endangering life.

During the trial, the killer apologised "from the heart".

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

However, Weinberg found Gargasoulas was not "genuinely remorseful" for his crimes, adding that it was "enormously fortuitous" he did not kill more people.

"You were also well aware of the likelihood that by driving through the crowds in the way that you did, you would kill, or at least seriously injure, those that you struck," he said.

"You left a trail of destruction behind you."