A man who deliberately ran down pedestrians in Australia’s second-largest city has been found guilty of murdering six pedestrians and recklessly injuring another 27.
In January 2017, James Gargasoulas, 28, was driving at speeds of over 40 mph (65 kmh) when he mounted the pavement on Melbourne’s busy Bourke Street shopping area, the court was told, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Six people, including a 10-year-old girl, were killed in the attack. Dozens of others, including a three-month-old baby, were injured.
Police had pursued Gargasoulas through Melbourne’s Central Business District shortly before the incident. The car was rammed by police and the driver was shot by officers at the scene. He was accused of stabbing his brother earlier in the day, and police said he had a history of mental health issues and drug abuse.
On Tuesday, the court took just 57 minutes to deliberate before returning the guilty verdict in the Victorian Supreme Court, according to ABC.
CCTV footage from the collision was played during the trial, showing the moments before Gargasoulas deliberately struck down pedestrians on the sidewalk. The driver did not slow down even when a stroller became lodged in his windshield.
Gargasoulas pleaded not guilty but admitted he was driving the vehicle at the time of the incident and was motivated by drug-induced psychosis, ABC said.
“I apologize from my heart but that’s not going to fix anything … neither will a lengthy sentence fix what I done,” he told the jury.
The man had previously told the jury that he had a premonition from God about running people over on Bourke Street shortly before the incident. According to The Age, he began posting “rambling and often nonsensical” posts to Facebook about religion, God, and Satan in the days prior to the car-ramming.
The popular Bourke Street has been the target of several violent attacks. In an unrelated incident on Friday, a man ignited his car and then stabbed three passersby, killing one and injuring two