News ‘Squandered’: Police lashed for Bourke Street surrender plan
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‘Squandered’: Police lashed for Bourke Street surrender plan

gargasoulas bourke street
The car driven by James Gargasoulas in the attack that killed six people in January 2017. Photo: AAP
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A plan to make Bourke Street Mall driver James Gargasoulas surrender before his rampage was like police putting their faith in “lion tamers and snake charmers”, a coroner has been told.

Six people died and 27 others were injured when he mowed down pedestrians in Melbourne’s CBD in January 2017.

Gargasoulas was in regular contact before his deadly attack with Detective Senior Constable Murray Gentner, who tried to encourage him to surrender via text and phone messages.

But prompting a “delusional, unco-operative and dangerous” offender to surrender was akin to placing their faith in “lion tamers and snake charmers”, counsel assisting Stephen O’Meara QC said on Thursday.

“In real and emerging danger one would like to think … that protecting the public would extend beyond the figurative use of a whip and chair or a tin whistle.”

There was a lack of proper co-ordination and leadership after Gargasoulas stabbed his brother and information about his whereabouts tracked with “pings” from his phone should have been acted on, Mr O’Meara said.

“That specific information was not acted upon and it should have been … it was squandered,” he added.

Police also waited hours to properly interview Gargasoulas’ girlfriend, who knew about his plans.

It has been recommended that police review training policies including its hostile vehicle policy and co-ordination between different police units.

Police lawyers said there had been many reforms since.

There had been “extensive soul-searching reflection” and a review of practices and procedures from the tragedy, which was felt through all parts of Victoria Police, Dr Ian Freckelton QC told the court.

“Serious attempts have been made to learn from the tragic events that surrounded the Bourke Street event … so that Victoria will be a safer state in the future,” he said.

Gargasoulas was jailed in February 2019 for at least 46 years for killing six people during his driving rampage.

Coroner Jacqui Hawkins will hear further submissions on Friday.

-AAP