A man who said God gave him permission to drive into pedestrians in Melbourne last year has been found guilty of murdering six people.
Jurors took less than an hour on Tuesday to find James “Dimitrious” Gargasoulas guilty of all 33 charges against him, including six counts of murder and 27 counts of reckless conduct endangering life.
The 28-year-old ran over 33 pedestrians, killing six people, including three-month-old Zachary Matthew-Bryant and Tahlia Hakin, 10, in the city’s business district 20 January, 2017.
He denied all of the counts at Melbourne Supreme Court, but admitted driving through the city’s busy pedestrianised Bourke Street mall and along pavements.
Gargasoulas told the court he believed he had received God’s permission, through a premonition half an hour before the attack, to hit people with the stolen car he was driving to evade police, but not to kill anyone.
Jurors heard he had a mental illness but this was not used as a defence because he was on drugs at the time of the attack.
He told them: “I apologise from my heart but that’s not going to fix anything… neither will a lengthy sentence fix what I done.”
Justice Mark Weinberg told jurors before their decision that they must accept Gargasoulas’ admissions as established facts, and that because his psychosis and delusions at the time were drug-induced he could not argue he was not guilty by way of mental impairment.
A lawyer representing five out of the six murder victims’ families said they were grateful for the verdict.
“This was an intentional, callous act by Mr Gargasoulas that has stolen six innocent victims from the people that love them,” Genna Angelowitsch said outside court.
Gargasoulas will be sentenced in January.
Bourke Street was the scene of last week’s terror attack by Hassan Khalif Shire Ali, 31, from Melbourne, who was originally from Somalia.
Ali blew up a vehicle packed with gas cylinders on Friday before stabbing three members of the public, killing 74-year-old restaurant owner Sisto Malaspina.