National

Cop backs decision not to stop Gargasoulas

By AAP Newswire

Bourke Street killer James Gargasoulas was unravelling in public but the man in charge of Victoria's heavily armed specialist police still thinks it was right to refuse requests to arrest him.

Acting Sergeant Kalev Jones from the force's Critical Incident Response Team refused to help local police officer Frank Caridi in the early hours of January 20, 2017, after Gargasoulas tried to kill his brother, as they did not know his exact location.

"They didn't know where he was ... and we needed confirmation of whether or not there is a weapon involved," the now-Acting Senior Sergeant Jones told the 12th day of an inquest into the January 2017 tragedy.

Nine hours later, Gargasoulas would mow down pedestrians in Bourke Street in Melbourne's CBD, killing six people.

Acting Snr Sgt Jones said he was told Gargasoulas was extremely violent, had a history of baiting police and may be armed but he didn't know he was in the grip of drug-induced psychosis.

In the days prior to the rampage, Gargasoulas had attacked his mother's then-boyfriend with a burning Bible, was filmed at a church ranting from the pulpit about terrorists and had threatened members of the public in St Kilda.

"Given that extra information, if you'd been informed of it ... would you have done anything differently?" asked lawyer Aine Magee QC, representing families of the six victims killed.

"I may have asked a few more questions of Mr Caridi ... what he was intending to do and what his plan was," Acting Snr Sgt Jones replied.

"Would you have still declined CIRT assistance at that point?"

"Yes," he said.

Another senior detective also told the inquest on Tuesday he was unaware of Gargasoulas' delusional state or lengthy criminal history.

"I would expect that those things would have been told to me," Acting Inspector Damian Jackson said.

"It probably would've elevated the risk in my view."

The detective was overseeing the police following Gargasoulas as he traversed the city in a stolen car and believed the matter would be "resolved peacefully".

He said the plan was to convince Gargasoulas to surrender and get out of the car so police could safely arrest him.

"An offender on the run is obviously something that occurs almost daily - there's probably two, three, four happening right now," he testified, defending the police response.

"I look at this incident and I know a lot of the discussion we've had has been in hindsight.

"I don't think anyone in their right mind thought it was going to turn into what it did."

Gargasoulas was jailed in February for at least 46 years.

The inquest continues before coroner Jacqui Hawkins.