Australian who drove into crowd, killed 6, sentenced to life

Emergency staff on Bourke Street after a car ploughed into pedestrians killing six people on 20 January 2017

Emergency staff on Bourke Street after a car ploughed into pedestrians killing six people on 20 January 2017

Known as the Bourke Street killer, James Gargasoulas was on Friday (Feb 22) sentenced to spend at least 46 years in jail for committing what Justice Mark Weinberg described as one of Australia's "worst examples of mass murder".

Emergency staff on Bourke Street after a auto ploughed into pedestrians killing six people on 20 January 2017.

In handing down the sentence, Justice Mark Weinberg described Gargasoulas' actions as "one of the worst examples of mass murder in Australia's history".

"The horror of what you did has profoundly affected your victims".

At the end of a three-day plea hearing last month, Gargasoulas read from a handwritten letter.

"Your crimes have had a shattering effect on countless lives", Justice Weinberg said.

"Your actions were both callous and cowardly", the judge said.

Among his victims was three-month-old Zachary Bryant and 10-year-old Thalia Makin.

The defence said Gargasoulas was in a drug-induced psychosis at the time of the rampage, but the judge rejected the argument, saying: "You knew full well what you were doing".

"But that's not going to fix anything if I say sorry".

Zachary Bryant (left) was the most flawless baby in the three months and 14 days he lived his grieving parents say.

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"There is a loneliness to this loss".

James Gargasoulas did doughnuts outside Flinders St Station minutes before he murdered six people in the Bourke St massacre.

"I'm not evil, I'm not a terrorist - I'm a freedom fighter", the 29-year-old said.

In a joint statement, the family of five victims said unsafe murderers like Gargasoulas "should never be allowed to roam freely".

Witnesses of the carnage have detailed the ongoing struggles they all face, with the sounds of helicopters, large crowds and busy traffic still haunting many.

An earlier jury found Gargasoulas, who suffers treatment-resistant paranoid schizophrenia, was fit to stand trial.

Gargasoulas had an extensive criminal history dating back to 2008 which included assault, driving offences and weapons charges.

On at least two occasions he had escaped from police.

A sentence of life in jail without parole is rare but has been passed in Victoria, for serial killer Peter Dupas and torture killer Michael Cardamone.

"He should never, ever get out of there", he told reporters after the sentencing.

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