A jury will decide next month whether the accused Bourke Street driver is mentally fit to stand trial, with prosecutors indicating they will fight for the case to go to trial.
James Gargasoulas is accused of driving a car through Melbourne’s Bourke Street mall and along the footpath for several blocks, hitting and killing six people and injuring many others.
Mr Gargasoulas faced a short hearing in the Supreme Court via video link, charged with six counts of murder and 28 counts of attempted murder over the car attack in January last year.
Prosecutor Andrew Tinney SC told the court Mr Gargasoulas had been assessed by four mental health experts, who all diagnosed him with schizophrenia.
“There does seem there is a real and substantial question about the accused’s fitness to stand trial,” he said.
But Mr Tinney told the hearing that the prosecution’s two expert witnesses had opposing views about whether Mr Gargasoulas is currently fit to stand trial.
He said the prosecution would challenge Mr Gargasoulas’s defence that he is unfit to stand trial at a hearing before a jury next month.
Three medical experts will give evidence about Mr Gargasoulas’s current mental state in a hearing that is expected to last five days before a jury to determine whether he should face a criminal trial.
If the jury finds he is fit to stand trial, then a criminal trial could begin as early as July.
But prosecutors have indicated that, if the jury finds Mr Gargasoulas is unfit to stand trial, the prosecution would want his mental state reassessed in a year’s time in the belief he may become fit to stand trial.
Mr Tinney told the court Mr Gargasoulas had not been treated for schizophrenia as the medication could not be administered in prison.
He said if Mr Gargasoulas was found unfit to stand trial, his case should be adjourned to allow him to receive further treatment.
Mr Tinney also told the court that the prosecution’s medical experts indicated they did not believe Mr Gargasoulas was mentally impaired at the time of his alleged offending, meaning they would fight that defence if it was used at a potential criminal trial.
The hearing to determine if Mr Gargasoulas is fit to stand trial will begin on June 12 before Supreme Court Justice Lex Lasry.