Accused Bourke St driver Dimitrious Gargasoulas tells court ‘I am the saviour’
The man accused of killing six people and injuring dozens of pedestrians during a driving rampage through Melbourne’s CBD has told a court he is “the saviour”.
For the first time since he allegedly drove his car through the Bourke Street mall in January, Dimitrious Gargasoulas appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court via video-link on unrelated charges.
The 26-year-old’s lawyer had previously told the court that he had been too ill to attend.
Dressed in a black jumper and white t-shirt, Gargasoulas smiled during the brief hearing and interjected on several occasions.
He said, “Your Honour, I wanted to tell you something”, and later spoke about the Bible and the Koran, yelling, “Aboriginal law is identical to Muslim law”.
His lawyer spoke over the top of him, warning him that members of the media were in court.
Gargasoulas then said: “All the law is illegal.”
Later, he said: “Your Honour, did you know the Muslim faith is the correct faith according to the whole world? And I am not guilty.”
Before his video-link was switched off, he called out: “I am the saviour.”
Gargasoulas faces charges for theft and other offences allegedly committed in early January and late last year, including driving on the wrong side of the road to evade police in St Kilda.
The matter has been adjourned until May.
Gargasoulas is also due to reappear in court in December, for a separate hearing in relation to six charges of murder, 28 of attempted murder and conduct endangering life following the Bourke Street tragedy in January.
2017 Melbourne car attack
Police arrest the alleged perpetrator at 555 Bourke St
|Location||Melbourne, Victoria, Australia|
|Date||20 January 2017 (2017-01-20)
1:30 pm (AEDT)
|Attack type||Vehicular attack|
On 20 January 2017, around 1:30 pm AEDT, a car was driven into pedestrians in the CBD of Melbourne, Australia. Six people were killed and at least thirty others wounded, three of whom sustained critical injuries. Police have alleged that the victims were intentionally hit, and have charged the driver of the vehicle, Dimitrious Gargasoulas, with six counts of murder.
The red Holden Commodore car used in the attack was stolen from a man who lives in the same block of flats as Gargasoulas. Upon being interviewed, the car owner alleged that on the night of 18 January 2017, Gargasoulas entered his flat with a bible, sat down, started burning it and threw it into his face. After this, he said that he flicked it on the floor and was then punched by Gargasoulas.
It is alleged that Gargasoulas stabbed his brother in a flat in Windsor in the early hours of 20 January 2017, leaving the brother in critical condition. He then took his pregnant girlfriend hostage; she was later released on the Bolte Bridge.
There are videos of the man driving and behaving erratically at the intersection of Flinders Street, St Kilda Road and Swanston Street, outside the entrance of Flinders Street railway station. Two men, year 12 student Tevita Mahina and his cousin Isaac Tupou attempted to stop him, hitting the windscreen with a baseball bat. The driver continued north-bound up Swanston St western-side footpath at speed towards the Bourke Street Mall, turned left onto Bourke Street southern-side footpath and struck more than 20 pedestrians. The car was brought to a halt and the driver was shot in the arm by a police critical incident response team and arrested in front of 555 Bourke Street. A child and two adults died at the scene, while another man died in hospital before the end of the day, and a three-month-old baby boy the evening after the attack. A sixth person died on 30 January.
Among the victims was a 10-year-old girl, who died on 20 January, as well as a three-month-old baby boy who died on 21 January. The others were a 25-year-old man, a 22-year-old woman, a 33-year-old man, and a 33-year-old woman.
A memorial for the victims was held in Federation Square on 23 January, and floral tributes were left by members of the public at nine locations along the Bourke Street Mall. On 30 January it was announced that a permanent memorial garden would be established, and that donations approaching AU$1,000,000 had been made to the Bourke Street Fund for the families of the victims. On 31 January, the inorganic tributes were removed from the mall for storage by the Melbourne City Council, and the floral tributes taken for composting for the Victims of Crime memorial near State Parliament.
Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police Graham Ashton confirmed that 26-year-old Dimitrious “Jimmy” Gargasoulas had previously been remanded into custody and was known to police having a history of illicit drug use, family violence, and mental health problems.
In the days before the attack, Gargasoulas began to post messages on Facebook about “religion, God, Satan, heaven and hell”, which writers for The Age described as “rambling and often nonsensical”. According to the Daily Express and Greece based TornosNews.gr, the perpetrator is a Greek–Tongan Australian.
Gargasoulas’ father told Seven News “he’s not the Jimmy I used to know” and he would “scratch his son off his books”, while his mother told News.com.au she is ashamed to be his mum, and she wanted her son to “die in hell”.
Police reported that the perpetrator was “not on our books as having any connection with terrorism … He has been coming to our attention more recently, over recent days, in relation to assaults, family violence related assaults”. The perpetrator had allegedly stabbed his younger brother for being gay.
According to an eyewitness, Gargasoulas repeatedly shouted “Allahu Akbar”, often linked to Islamic terrorism. Police later asked Melbourne Herald Sun reporter Andrea Hanblin to remove her video interview of the eyewitness who made these claims.
Timeline of events
- 14 January 2017
- Police charge Gargasoulas at Prahran police station with speeding on the wrong side of the road and ignoring a police direction to stop. Police oppose bail, but Gargasoulas is granted bail for a 20 January court date.
- 18 January 2017
- Gargasoulas attacks Gavin Wilson, his mother’s ex-partner, by thrusting a burning Bible in his face and stealing his car.
- 19 January 2017
- 9:26 pm: Gargasoulas ‘checks in’ at Dogs Bar, St Kilda, on Facebook, posting: “Thinking. About what to do with them lol.”
- 10:00 pm: Gargasoulas is refused entry to Dogs Bar as he is suspected to be under the influence.
- 20 January 2017
- 12:30 am: Gargasoulas returns to Dogs Bar, in a maroon-coloured car believed to be the same car he stole from Wilson, later to be used in the attack. Patrons report that he smashes glasses and plates.
- 2:15 am: Police are called to an address in Raleigh Street, Windsor, after reports are lodged of two men fighting. Both victim and Gargasoulas are gone by the time police arrive.
- 8.04 am: Gargasoulas is spotted driving in the background of a Today “live cross” which is reporting on the Windsor stabbing. The man rolls down the car window and waves his hat at the news camera.
- 11:30 am: Police follow the car along tram tracks in Clarendon Street in South Melbourne and unsuccessfully attempt to arrest Gargasoulas at a South Wharf intersection.
- 11:45 am: Police spot the car weaving through traffic on Williamstown Road in Yarraville, west of Melbourne. Police pull back due to safety concerns as the car is being driven “erratically and dangerously.” The police air wing tracks the car as it moves toward the city.
- 1:30 pm: Emergency services are flooded with calls with reports of a car doing burnouts outside Flinders Street Station.
- 1:33 pm: The car in question drives north up Swanston Street.
- 1:35 pm: The car then allegedly struck a number of pedestrians in the vicinity of Bourke Street Mall, before proceeding further along Bourke Street, past intersection with Queen Street.
- 1:37 pm: Reports of multiple shots fired, Gargasoulas is pulled from the car on William Street.
- 2:30 pm: Ambulance Victoria state that they are treating 20 people in Bourke Street, many of them sustaining serious injuries.
- 2:30 pm: Victoria Police release a statement confirming that the situation has been “contained”, one person has been arrested and another dead.
- 3:20 pm: Police confirm at a press conference that three people have died and the incident was not terrorism-related.
- 9:00 pm: Police confirm that a fourth person had died in hospital.
- 21 January 2017
- 10:53 pm: Police confirm that a fifth person (a three-month-old child) had died in hospital. 
- 23 January 2017
- Gargasoulas is excused from court by the magistrate, claiming that he is feeling unwell. He is charged with five counts of murder.
- 30 January 2017
- Police confirm a 33 year old woman has died in hospital due to her injuries. This raises the death toll to 6.
Police urged the public to share their testimonies and collaborated with over 300 witnesses. Graham Ashton, Victoria Police Chief Commissioner, was quick to dismiss claims the attack was an act of terror, but supposed it instead a consequence of an alleged stabbing which had developed into a crime spree. Victoria Police maintain religion was not a significant motivation. In an interview the day after the attack, Andrew Crisp, Deputy Police Commissioner, stated that police were hoping to interview and charge the suspect later in the day. He said that the fact that the suspect had been out on bail would be looked into by police. He congratulated everyone who dealt with the situation, stating “We saw the best of people yesterday. The support they gave to people on the street, it was amazing.”
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews stated that “this was a terrible crime – a senseless, evil act” and promised that “justice will be done”. Then the Victorian Government established a fund to provide financial assistance for the families of the deceased, and made an initial donation of $100,000.
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