News State Victoria News Bourke St rampage: Victorian government announce changes, review into bail laws

Bourke St rampage: Victorian government announce changes, review into bail laws

Bourke St tragedy
Melburnians laid floral tributes at the site of the horror incident. Photo: Getty
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UPDATE 5.45pm

The man accused of killing five people and injuring dozens of pedestrians during a rampage through Melbourne’s CBD has been charged with five counts of murder.

Dimitrious “Jimmy” Gargasoulashas was taken in for questioning at the police station on Spencer Street at around 1.00pm today.

But he did not appear in the Melbourne Magistrates Court as planned because he was unwell, his lawyer said.

He has been remanded in custody and ordered to face court via video link in August.

Gargasoulas’ legal team requested eight months to provide the brief of evidence due to what it described as an “unprecedented amount of evidence”.

Earlier, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Attorney General Martin Pakula have announced changes to the state’s much maligned bail system in the wake of the Bourke Street rampage.

The main change to the laws will allow for an after hours Magistrate’s Court – staffed with actual magistrates and not just volunteer bail justices – to hear out of hours bail applications.

Mr Gargasoulas was granted bail by a volunteer bail justice on January 14 in an after hours court session.

There will now be a magistrate on call to work overnight and decide on bail for serious matters. This will begin as soon as possible, Mr Andrews said.

Former director of Public Prosecutions Paul Coughlan will also review Victoria’s entire bail system.

“On the broader issue of the way our bail system operates it is obviously an area where significant reform needs to be made,” Mr Andrews said.

“Nothing will be off the table. Nothing will be off limits.”

Earlier, more of the innocent victims who died in the Bourke St tragedy were identified as people demanded answers about why the alleged killer was let out on bail.

The deceased included a three-month-old baby boy and 10-year-old Thalia Hakin. More than 30 people were also injured after Mr Gargasoulas allegedly sped along the footpath in Melbourne’s CBD, mowing people down indiscriminately.

The names of two more victims — Jess Mudie, 22, and Matthew Si, 33— were released by police on Sunday evening.

Bourke St tragedy
Jess Mudie, 22, and Matthew Si, 33, were killed during the incident. Photo: Victoria Police

The release of the victim details comes amid fears that the death toll could rise, with 15 people still in hospital, including two members of Thalia Hakin’s family.

“They are critical. They’re in a very, very serious condition,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters on Sunday.

“The fear is of course that the death toll from this evil act will rise.”

Bail backlash

Mr Gargasoulas, 26, who was “well-known” to police, was released on bail on January 14, just six days before allegedly running down the pedestrians on Bourke St.

The revelation spurred widespread criticism of Victoria’s bail process, as political leaders supported calls to toughen laws.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said Victoria’s bail system requires urgent reform.

“The bail system in our state is broken. The bail system needs to be fundamentally reformed,” Mr Guy told reporters on Sunday.

“Today is not the day to talk about any individual or any other people involved in that system, but I will say this very clearly,” he said. “The state opposition will work with the government, the police, the Law Institute of Victoria, to get reform to our bail system.

“How this person could have been on our streets is beyond us. The police themselves tried to keep him behind bars.”

A petition to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews calling for changes to the bail laws had been signed by more than 50,000 people by Sunday evening.

The petition, which started on Saturday, is calling for bail to be denied to repeat violent offenders, claiming that the “recent Melbourne atrocity could have been avoided if the perpetrator had remained in custody”.

Bourke St tragedy
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews is being called upon to change the state’s bail system. Photo: AAP

“Here was an offender well known to police with an extensive history of violence presented to the courts regarding another assault claim and he is granted bail to continue his out of control life. This is sheer lunacy and can’t continue,” Michael Wilson, who started the petition, wrote.

Premier Andrews addressed media on Sunday and promised to make changes to the system where needed, with resources and cost not an issue.

“We are sad, we are angry, and we are resolute in making the changes that need to be made to learn from this, and to honour that three month-old baby [killed in the Bourke Street tragedy],” Mr Andrews said.

“If changes are needed to be made based on the facts they will be made, and resources will not be an issue, expense will not be an issue. If reform and change are needed to be made, be in no doubt, it will be made.”

He said his government would have more to say on the matter in the coming days.

Victoria’s failed justice system

Bourke St tragedy
The tragedy has Victorians wanting a change to the bail system. Photo: AAP

The role of bail justices in Victoria has also been attacked, with calls for the current system to be scrapped.

After business hours, volunteers are called to replace magistrates to conduct hearings on applications for bail in the immediate hours after suspects are arrested and charged.

Victoria is the only state in Australia that uses a voluntary bail justice system.

Police Association secretary Ron Iddles called for this process to be terminated, and for police to take power until suspects face court.

“For too long we’ve done justice on the cheap whilst [bail justices have] filled the void or the gap. We have modern technology now, we should have magistrates doing all remands,” Senior Sergeant Iddles told Fairfax Media.

Bourke St tragedy
Ron Iddles said the bail justice system must also be scrapped. Photo: AAP

Victoria’s justice system has failed on multiple occasions, with repeat violent criminals offending again after bail.

Sean Price was on bail when he fatally stabbed 17-year-old schoolgirl Masa Vukotic 49 times and raped another woman in March 2016.

In another high-profile case, Adrian Bayley was on parole when he raped and murdered Jill Meagher in 2013.

Steven James Hunter fatally stabbed Sarah Cafferkey, 22, in Bacchus Marsh – just 11 days after his parole ended for other violent crimes.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment with no parole on August 21, 2013.

In 2012, David Patrick Clifford was on parole for drug trafficking when he violently bashed, stabbed and fatally strangled Melbourne hairdresser Elsa Corp.

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