MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A man who drove a car through a lunchtime crowd on a pedestrian-only Australian street last year, killing six people and injuring dozens more, plans to explain his actions during his trial, his lawyer told a court on Thursday.
Greek-Tongan James Gargasoulas, 28, has pleaded not guilty to six counts of murder and 27 of reckless conduct endangering life after driving a stolen car down a busy pedestrian mall and sidewalks in downtown Melbourne on Jan. 20 last year. He faces a potential life sentence in prison if convicted.
Gargasoulas agreed to “essentially all of the facts” presented by prosecutors and wanted to give his reasons for the rampage, his lawyer Theo Alexander said. He noted his client had been found fit to stand trial though he had a mental illness and was suffering a drug-induced psychosis when he drove the car.
“Mr. Gargasoulas, for better or for worse, is absolutely committed to his explanation,” Alexander told the jury in the Victoria state Supreme Court.
There were audible gasps as Prosecutor Kerri Judd played video footage of the rampage to the courtroom packed with victims and families.
Witnesses told police Gargasoulas appeared to deliberately steer at people without hesitation and went out of his way to hit a stroller with a baby and toddler inside, Judd said.