Saturday 21 January 2017

Melbourne Driver To Face Charges


Victoria's top cop says he is "rock solid" behind decisions made by police in their aborted attempts to catch a rogue driver before he mowed down pedestrians in Melbourne's CBD, killing four.

Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton defended officers on Saturday when asked why police were unable to stop the man on Friday as he drove erratically around Melbourne on the run after allegedly stabbing another man that morning.

"From my perspective, all decisions the officers made were in the interests of trying to protect community safety,'' he said.

The man, Dimitrious "Jimmy" Gargasoulas, was out on bail at the time prompting Premier Daniel Andrews to say his government would make whatever changes were necessary, including to bail laws, following a proper coronial review.

"A bail justice made the decision, police opposed that," Mr Andrews told reporters on Saturday.

"We want answers, and all of us can be confident our government will honour the memory of those who have died here with whatever change, with whatever resources, with whatever reform is required, based on that proper examination of what's gone on."

Gargasoulas, 26, was due to face court over an assault on Friday, the same day he went on his deadly rampage. He had been charged on January 14, but freed by a bail justice.

Mr Ashton said Gargasoulas was well known to police.

He said police were sometimes frustrated by bail decisions but he respected the independence of the judiciary.

"I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't reflect that police were often frustrated in relation to trying to keep people in custody and they're bailed," he told reporters.

Mr Ashton said the coroner would examine all aspects of the incident, including police endeavours to catch the accused, the justice system's prior dealings with him and issues around mental health and drug abuse.

Police made several aborted attempts to arrest Gargasoulas on Friday as he drove erratically through the southern and inner western suburbs.



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