Dimitrious (James) Gargasoulas entered the Supreme Court witness box during his final day of his pre-sentence hearing after being found guilty of guilty of murdering six people and injuring 27 others last year.
During the 20 minutes he had to defend himself after getting permission from Justice Weinberg, Gargasoulas read a letter he wrote three days prior in which he attempted to apologise to the victims and their families. Even though the contents were not relevant to the sentencing, therefore deemed unoffensive, two people left the court when the judge ruled the letter could be read.
In his address, the Bourke Street killer claimed he is not evil and in fact dubbed himself a victim of “government oppression”.
“I am deeply ashamed of what I have done. I must say it is a tragic day for all of you and myself. If only we can go back in time I would change it all,” he said.
“What I want you to know is I am a victim of government oppression. It is because of government oppression six people died and many were injured,” stressing that he was sorry “from my heart for taking the lives of your loved ones”.
“I am not evil. I am not a terrorist. I am a freedom fighter who is now educated to stop oppression,” the 29-year-old noted before pleading guilty for the murder of Yosuke Kanno, 25, Bhavita Patel, 33, Jessica Mudie, 22, Matthew Si, 33, three-month-old Zachary Bryant and 10-year-old Thalia Hakin.
Both in his letter and during the cross-examination by prosecutor Ray Gibson SC, Gargasoulas said he was remorseful but claimed he felt he had a premonition from God that he would run down pedestrians and that he was the “Messiah”.
While his defence counsel Theo Alexander insisted Gargasoulas’ “deluded beliefs and paranoid schizophrenia undeniably influenced” his actions that fatal day, submitting that he should one day get parole, Gargasoulas himself said he shouldn’t be ruled eligible for parole.
“If God’s law was reinstated, the death penalty would be in place,” he told the Court denying the schizophrenia diagnosis.
Gargasoulas’ father, Christos, also addressed the court through a letter: “I am very sorry for what my son has done and apologise for his actions and all the pain he has caused. This has hurt everyone that is involved and has brought much shame on my family,” he wrote.
Finally, prosecutors want Gargasoulas jailed for the rest of his life without parole given the gravity of the Bourke Street attack as well as the long list of past crimes.
Justice Weinberg said he hoped to hand down his sentence in coming weeks before thanking the victims and their families for their courage and dignity during the painful procedure.
To read the letter in full click on the following link: