A man who drove a stolen car at speed into crowds in Melbourne, killing six people and leaving dozens injured, has been jailed for life.
The judge described James Gargasoulas’ actions on 20 January 2017 as “one of the worst examples of mass murder in Australian history”.
Under the terms of his sentence, the 29-year-old will spend at least 46 years in prison before he is eligible for parole.
Families of the victims filled the courtroom to hear Justice Mark Weinberg’s ruling.
Gargasoulas was in a drug-induced psychosis when he ran over 33 pedestrians in the busy Bourke Street Mall.
His victims included three-month-old Zachary Matthew-Bryant, who was thrown 20ft (6m) from his pram, and 10-year-old Tahlia Hakin, in the city’s business district.
“Your actions were both callous and cowardly,” the judge said. “You have shown no genuine remorse.”
Judge Weinberg went into detail about the “terrifying rampage”, noting each victim killed as well as those left with broken bones, head injuries, internal bleeding and other long-term damage.
“You left a trail of destruction,” he said. “The horror of what you did has profoundly impacted the lives of those who were present that day.”
Grieving relatives told the court of their pain, with the brother of Japanese victim Yosuke Kanno, 25, saying he will continue to suffer until he dies.
In a letter read to the court, Gargasoulas insisted he was not evil and blamed “government oppression” for his actions.
He also said he was the Messiah and was acting on the wishes of God on the day of the attack, but was in a “bad headspace”.
Gargasoulas has treatment-resistant paranoid schizophrenia but was found fit to stand trial and pleaded not guilty.
In November, jurors took less than an hour to find Gargasoulas guilty of all 33 charges against him, including six counts of murder and 27 counts of reckless conduct endangering life.
He had been committing crimes and using drugs in the weeks before the attack and was on bail.
Gargasoulas told jurors: “I apologise from my heart but that’s not going to fix anything… neither will a lengthy sentence fix what I done.”
Crime Stoppers Victoria ambassador George Halvagis said he believed Gargasoulas should die in jail, and told reporters after the sentencing: “He should never, ever, get out of there.”
Gargasoulas will be eligible to apply for release in 2063, when he is 73.
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