An Australian man has been found guilty of murdering six people and injuring 27 others in a vehicle attack in Melbourne. James Gargasoulas, 28, deliberately drove a stolen car into pedestrians along Bourke St in the city center in January last year. He pleaded not guilty to the attack, but later admitted that he had carried it out. A jury convicted Gargasoulas after deliberating for less than an hour. The attack claimed the lives of Bhavita Patel, 33, Matthew Si, 33, Yosuke Kanno, 25, Jess Mudie, 22, Thalia Hakin, 10, and three-month-old Zachary Bryant. Relatives of the victims wiped away tears as the word “guilty” was read out 33 times in the Supreme Court of Victoria on Tuesday, local media reported. Last week, Bourke St was the scene of an unrelated stabbing attack that left one victim dead and two others injured.
The jury was shown graphic footage of Gargasoulas, also known by the name Dimitrious, carrying out the attack in the popular shopping area. Other footage showed him driving erratically beforehand, as dozens of bystanders watched on. During the trial, Gargasoulas testified that he had received a premonition from God directing him to drive into pedestrians. When asked whether he knew he would kill people, he said: “In a sense, yes.” The court heard he had exceeded speeds of 60km/h (37mph) during his rampage, and did not stop driving even when a pram became lodged in his windscreen. Gargasoulas had taken the drug ice, also known as crystal methamphetamine, in the month before the attack. Prosecutor Kerri Judd QC told the court: “[It] is the clearest case of criminal liability that you will ever come across.” Defense lawyer Theo Alexander did not challenge the prosecution’s case in his closing address.
In a joint statement, relatives of five of the victims welcomed the guilty verdict. “His callous actions on that day shattered the lives of the family and friends whose loved ones he stole,” they said. “The families of the victims are grateful to all those whose hard work secured today’s outcome, and for the ongoing support they have received during this difficult time.” Gargasoulas will be sentenced at a later date. The state of Victoria toughened its bail laws in response to the attack, after it was found that Gargasoulas had previously been released from custody against the wishes of police.