Melbourne car attack driver found guilty of murder

The driver of a car which plowed into pedestrians on a busy street in central Melbourne in January 2017 has been found guilty of six counts of murder.

A jury in the Australian city deliberated for just 57 minutes before finding James Gargasoulas guilty on six charges of murder and 27 charges of reckless conduct endangering life, according to CNN affiliate Nine News.

Gargasoulas pleaded not guilty, though he admitted that his actions — driving through the busy pedestrian mall and along footpaths crowded with people — caused death and injury.

Five people died as a result of the crash, while another died later after her family turned off life support.

Police said after the crash the then 32-year-old Gargasoulas had a history of drug use and mental health issues, and was known to the authorities for minor offenses.

“Today, the jury formally recognized that on 20 January, 2017, James Gargasoulas murdered six innocent people and recklessly endangered the lives of 27 others,” Genna Angelowitsch, a lawyer who represents the families of five victims, said in a statement given to Nine News.

“His callous actions on that day shattered the lives of the family and friends whose loved ones he stole. The families of the victims are grateful to all those whose hard work secured today’s outcome, and for the ongoing support they have received during this difficult time.”

The guilty verdict against Gargasoulas comes just days after another incident in Melbourne left three people injured and caused central parts of the city to be shutdown when a man stabbed three people, including a police officer, before being detained.

“I apologize from my heart but that’s not going to fix anything … neither will a lengthy sentence fix what I done,” Gargasoulas said, according to Nine.

He claimed he had a premonition half an hour before the Bourke Street attack giving him permission to run people down in order to evade police, but that he didn’t have permission to kill anyone.

Sentencing will take place early next year.