MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A man who drove a car through a crowd on a pedestrian-only Australian street last year, killing six people and injuring dozens more, was found guilty on Tuesday of all 33 charges against him, including six counts of murder.
A Melbourne Supreme Court jury took less than an hour to find 28-year-old Greek-Australian James Gargasoulas guilty of all charges, which included 27 counts of reckless conduct endangering life.
Gargasoulas pleaded not guilty to all of the charges, but admitted driving through Melbourne’s busy Bourke Street pedestrian mall and along sidewalks in January 2017, causing death and injury.
Gargasoulas, who has a mental illness but didn’t use that as a defense, told the court on Monday that he believed he had received God’s permission, through a premonition, to hit people with the stolen car he was driving but not to kill anyone.
“I apologize from my heart but that’s not going to fix anything … neither will a lengthy sentence fix what I done,” he said.
He’ll reappear for sentencing in January.
Before the jury retired, Justice Mark Weinberg said they must accept Gargasoulas’ admissions as established facts, and that because his psychosis and delusions at the time of the rampage were drug-induced, he could not argue he was not guilty by way of mental impairment.
Gargasoulas told the court on Monday he hadn’t intended for anyone to die, but understood that “in a sense, yes” he knew that outcome was likely.
The murder victims ranged in age from 3 months to 33 years old. A lawyer representing the families of five murder victims told reporters they were grateful for the verdict.
“This was an intentional, callous act by Mr. Gargasoulas that has stolen six innocent victims from the people that love them,” the lawyer, Genna Angelowitsch, said outside the court.
During the trial, jurors flinched and gasped as graphic footage of pedestrians being struck was played close to three dozen times.