The accused Bourke Street driver will give evidence from the witness box during his trial to explain his “very important reason” for killing six people and injuring dozens more, as James Gargasoulas’ defence barrister concedes he was in a drug-induced psychosis when he ran the pedestrians down.
Mr Gargasoulas’ trial has opened in the Victorian Supreme Court as he fights six murder charges and 27 counts of reckless conduct endangering life for deliberately running over pedestrians in Melbourne’s CBD in January 2017.
The 28-year-old has pleaded not guilty despite agreeing to almost all of the facts of the prosecution’s case, including that he was in a drug-induced psychosis at the time of the rampage.
Defence barrister Theo Alexander told the jury Mr Gargasoulas has a mental illness but neither his mental state now, or his drug-induced psychosis at the time of the tragedy, offered a defence to the charges.
“He says that he had a very important reason, or reasons, for what happened on the 20th of January 2017,” he said.
“Mr Gargasoulas, for better or for worse, is absolutely committed to his explanation and as another jury found, he is fit to stand trial.
“He is accordingly entitled to say what he wishes about the offences with which he’s been charged.”
Dr Alexander said Mr Gargasoulas would give evidence during the week-long trial after the prosecution had closed its case.
Earlier, the court was played CCTV footage of Mr Gargasoulas’ driving a stolen maroon sedan into the city before performing donuts outside Flinders Street train station as police watched on.
There was an audible gasp as the vision showed the car turn up Bourke Street and hit a pedestrian who would become Mr Gargasoulas’ alleged first victim.
The car could be seen accelerating up the footpath along Bourke Street, colliding with more pedestrians.
Some were thrown onto the car’s bonnet before sliding off, while other pedestrians were thrown metres from the car.
Director of Public Prosecutions, Kerri Judd QC, told the jury Mr Gargasoulas appeared to target people as he drove.
“In a period lasting only about a minute, during the busy lunchtime period, the accused left a trail of death and carnage along Bourke Street,” she said.
The trial before Justice Mark Weinberg and a jury of seven women and six men continues.