Victorian police protocols and the state’s bail laws will be reviewed after five people were killed when a man mowed them down in his car on Bourke Street in Melbourne.
It has been revealed that not only had the alleged killer been released on bail less than a week earlier, but police tailed him “for hours” before the rampage.
On January 14 — six days before the tragedy — the accused killer driver, Dimitrious Gargasoulas, was freed by a bail justice over an alleged assault on his mother’s partner.
His freedom came despite on opposition from police.
Chief commissioner Graham Ashton said everyone that works in the system has had issues with the state’s bail laws, with many police feeling frustrated with the the current operations.
This morning premier Daniel Andrews said volunteer bail judges would be axed under major changes to Victoria’s bail laws.
He also announced an after-hours magistrates court would be established so magistrates, rather than bail justices, can hear serious bail applications.
“The work involves additional magistrates and additional resources. No expense will be spared,” he said.
“Magistrates will be on-call as soon as possible – in just a matter of days. A night court will be established a little while after that.”
The changes are expected to be received by April 3.
The Victoria Police restrictive pursuit policy is also being reviewed after police tailed Gargasoulas for at least two hours before the Bourke Street incident but called-off the pursuit through the CBD because of the risk to the public and instead monitored him from the police helicopter.
He had also been on police’s radar since 2am, when he allegedly stabbed his brother in Windsor, where he lived in public housing flats.
A high-ranking police officer told Fairfax Media said “there’s a lot of cops who think more could have been done to stop him getting into the city”.
Ashton said he was “rock solid” behind the pursuit decisions made by police, saying that they were “in the interests of trying to provide community safety”.
“I am confident in that,” he said.
The pursuit policy was tightened in July 2015 following the deaths of 14 people in pursuits within five years.
According to Fairfax, the coroner had already begun investigating the revised policy before the Bourke Street rampage.
It brings the total number of people killed to five. The other victims were a 10-year-old girl, a 25-year-old man, a 33-year-old man, and 32-year-old woman.
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