Ac­cused killer’s ‘trail of car­nage’

The Cairns Post - - NATION -

GASPS broke the si­lence of the Supreme Court in Mel­bourne as CCTV was played of the hor­rific mo­ment pedes­tri­ans were struck dur­ing the Bourke St ram­page.

Ac­cused driver James Gar­ga­soulas (right) has pleaded not guilty to mur­der­ing six peo­ple and hurt­ing 27 oth­ers – so that he can take to the wit­ness stand and ex­plain his ac­tions, a jury has been told.

Gar­ga­soulas, 28, is ac­cused of be­ing be­hind the wheel when pedes­tri­ans were mowed down in Mel­bourne’s CBD on Jan­uary 20 last year.

The Supreme Court heard he texted a friend in the hours be­fore the hor­rific one-minute trail of car­nage: “I’m go­ing to do some­thing dras­tic, take ev­ery­one out. Watch me. You will see me tonight on the news.”

Peo­ple in court gasped as footage showed some vic­tims be­ing thrown in the air, while oth­ers went un­der the tyres.

“In a pe­riod last­ing only about a minute, in the busy lunchtime rush, the ac­cused left a trail of death and car­nage along Bourke St,” pros­e­cu­tor Kerri Judd QC told the jury of 13 peo­ple.

De­fence lawyer Theo Alexan­der told the jury on the first day of the trial that it was an “un­usual case” as Gar­ga­soulas was not dis­put­ing the facts.

But the ac­cused killer wanted to give his “very im­por­tant rea­sons” for the deadly car ram­page on Jan­uary 20, Dr Alexan­der said.

“Mr Gar­ga­soulas has pleaded not guilty,” he said.

“Equally, he has agreed … to all of the facts nec­es­sary to es­tab­lish the charges.”

To ex­plain why he has pleaded not guilty, Dr Alexan­der told the jury they must un­der­stand that Gar­ga­soulas had a right to plead how­ever he wants.

“Sec­ondly, and more di­rectly, he says he had very im­por­tant rea­sons for what hap­pened on Jan­uary 20th,” Dr Alexan­der said. “Mr Gar­ga­soulas, for bet­ter or for worse, is com­mit­ted to his ex­pla­na­tion. And as a jury found him fit for trial, he is ac­cord­ingly al­lowed to have his say.”

Dr Alexan­der said his client would give ev­i­dence at the end of the trial.

“Mr Gar­ga­soulas is not a well man. He has a men­tal ill­ness now,” he said.

Open­ing the ev­i­dence, Ms Judd QC de­tailed how Gar­ga­soulas steered the car to­wards work­ers, shop­pers and young fam­i­lies walk­ing through Bourke St Mall.

The trial, be­fore Jus­tice Mark Wein­berg, con­tin­ues.

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