Bourke St pedestrian heard ‘thud, thud, thud’
The accused Bourke Street driver had both hands on the steering wheel “10 to two” with a cigarette in his mouth as he ploughed into pedestrians on January 20 last year, a court has heard.
Witnesses to the event in which six people were killed gave evidence in the Victorian Supreme Court yesterday on day two of the trial of James Gargasoulas. He has pleaded not guilty to six counts of murder and 27 counts of reckless conduct endangering life.
He is charged with murdering Yosuke Kanno, 25, Jessica Mudie, 23, Matthew Si, 33, Bhavita Patel, 33, Tahlia Hakin, 10, and threemonth-old Zachary Matthew-Bryant.
Solicitor Joshua Baldacchino told the court he had just finished a lunch on Hardware Lane when he saw a car “effectively ploughing into people” and driving up Bourke Street towards Queen Street. He said he heard a group of people shrieking as the car headed towards them. “The car hit them just as if they were an insect — thud, thud, thud, thud,” he said.
Mr Baldacchino told the court he saw the driver of the car with a cigarette in his mouth. “Both hands on the steering wheel, 10 to two … just driving his car as I would drive down the street regularly,” he said.
Banker Aaron Jensen told the court he first heard sirens and the sound of cars driving fast as he was walking to the NAB office.
“I turned around expecting to see a fire truck and instead I saw a car on the footpath,” he said.
“It hit a person, a man … I couldn’t believe it either, he went flying over the vehicle. It then hit another person seconds later.”
He said the car then went towards a group of people near the RACV building.
Mr Jensen said one woman tried to squash herself against the building and the car pushed her into the wall.
“I remember another man tried to do a Superman jump away from the car … the car clipped his legs,” Mr Jensen said.
“I remember the desperation in his eyes to get away. I still remember till today the sound of those people’s bodies being hit.”
Detective Senior Constable David Cavanagh from the Critical Incident Response Team told the court he was in the lead police vehicle as Mr Gargasoulas allegedly turned the stolen maroon Holden Commodore on to Bourke Street from Swanston Street. “At that point we have turned left on to Bourke Street and observed the vehicle accelerate hard, directly into people,” he said. “Our plan was to ram the vehicle (but) we were unable to get close enough to do that safely.”
He told the court the vehicle eventually slowed down “due to significant damage”.