The Murderous Crimes of James Gargasoulas and the Unexplainable Actions of Victorian Police.
On January 17, 2017, in Melbourne Victoria, James Gargasoulas went on a murderous rampage. He plowed a stolen vehicle into pedestrians on crowded city streets killing 6 hapless pedestrians and seriously injured dozens more. This crime might have been inspired by a wave of attacks across the globe that mobilised vehicles as weapons of mass destruction. The actions of Victorian Police in the hours leading up to the attack bear significant scrutiny. Quite simply, they defy belief.
The Victorian Police gives the appearance of a systemically corrupt institution. The unprecedented Lawyer X case presently before a Royal Commission, is just the latest in a long series of embarrassing scandals. The case centres on leading criminal lawyer Nicola Gobbo being registered as a police informant while simultaneously representing some of Melbourne’s highest-profile underworld defendants. This flagrant breach of legal privilege will lead to the likely overturning of tens of serious convictions. While registered, Gobbo had sexual relations with 4 or 5 police officers, one of whom would later be charged with the execution-style murder of another police informant and drug dealer Terry Hodson and his wife, following the robbery of Hodson’s stash of drugs by corrupt police officers. The tale gets very murky containing treachery and deception followed by cover-up, destruction of evidence, legal obfuscation, and an associated litany of compounding errors that have cost tax-payers tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars. The Lawyer X case is merely the most recent debacle involving an out of control force that presumes to be a law unto itself. The all-powerful Police Union seems to hold such sway with the left-wing Victorian State Government that nothing ever seems to change. Corruption and incompetence are the constant, while chief commissioners and police ministers come and go. The names may change, but the song remains the same.
James Gargasoulas was not a sane man. He was well known to law enforcement, possessed a lengthy rap sheet that included illicit drug use, police pursuits in vehicles, and family violence. He was mentally ill and had a long history of erratic psychosis-induced behaviour. On the surface, his vehicular rampage could be classified as another crime that could have been prevented by more effective policing and better correctional outcomes. The Victorian criminal justice seems to grapple with a very fundamental failure. It consistently fails to determine who does, and does not pose a threat to society. Serious violent criminals who repeatedly re-offend, and display no apparent remorse are inexplicably granted bail, or parole, and go straight back to their violent criminal ways. However, the Gargasoulas case is something much more sinister. The events of the 11 hours preceding the deadly rampage do not make sense. Their decisions can be most logically explained as soaring incompetence that led to entirely preventable terror and carnage coming to the streets of Melbourne.
At 2:20 am on January 16, 2017 Angelo Gargasoulas was stabbed in the suburb of Windsor outside his mother’s apartment. Wounds to the head and chest left him in a life-threatening condition.
By 3:30 the victim’s brother James Gargasoulas was identified as the likely culprit.
At 4:30 regular police officers request assistance from the Critical Incident Response Team
(CIRT) to provide support in the unfolding case. The request was denied.
At 4:40 Gargasoulas was located sitting inside his parked car in Saint Kilda. Another response was made to CIRT and denied. Police officers on the scene took no further action.
At 5:00 Gargasoulas was seen in a fast food outlet. Another CIRT request was made and denied. Police on the scene again took no further action.
At 8:04 Gargasoulas was spotted in Windsor, the scene of the earlier stabbing. He forced his on-off, pregnant girlfriend Akiir Muo into his vehicle and drove away while police took no action.
At 10:00 Gargasoulas was stuck in traffic in the suburb of South Yarra. Police again took no action to apprehend the suspect.
At 11:00 Gargasoulas drove into a narrow laneway, passing the two CIRT units that had belatedly entered the chase. He motioned them to move out of his way, and they helpfully complied, taking no further action.
At 11:37 Gargasoulas was halted by busy traffic. CIRT officers walked toward him with their guns drawn. He pushed his captive passenger out of the vehicle onto the road and drove toward CIRT officers and forced them out of his way.
At 12:00 Gargasoulas parked his car in a Yarraville street for close to an hour. This golden opportunity to arrest the suspected attempted murderer, kidnapper and known criminal was strangely not taken.
At 1:30 Gargasoulas arrived in the Melbourne CBD and did burn-outs on one of its busiest intersections. Police continue to watch, but not act. Several skateboard-wielding onlookers risked their lives trying to smash the moving car’s windscreen with their boards and a baseball bat, embarrassing police who now had dozens of armed officers and cars on the scene, but continued to do nothing.
At 1:33 Gargasoulas exited the intersection unimpeded and set off on his murderous run, speeding up sidewalks and colliding with shoppers, tourists, families and other citizens going about their lives.
With his stolen car smashed and stationary, Gargasoulas was then finally arrested and taken into custody. He was subsequently found guilty of multiple counts of homicide.
Conspiracy theories take hold when official narratives seem to be filled with unexplainable holes and half-truths. Did the police allow this rampage to take place, or were they simply guilty of towering incompetence? Apprehending an unarmed suspect would certainly seem a routine part of their duties. Protecting the public is a large portion of their job description. Cars and trucks had been used in attacks against the public on numerous recent occasions. Elite teams exist to deal with extraordinary situations. Calls for back-up mean that officers on a scene need additional assistance. How could they have possibly failed on so many occasions to apprehend Gargasoulas?
Corrupt institutions have a damaging effect on those within their ranks. Regular police officers have expressed their frustration, rage, guilt, shame, and regret stemming from the events on that fateful day. Imagine you are a front-line police officer, screaming into a radio demanding vital assistance and being repeatedly denied. At the inquiry into the actions of the force, several officers have broken ranks. They have taken external legal counsel and are determined to shed light on what led to repeated failures. The provision of approved legal assistance is a very common means of controlling police officers when the force is being investigated. A single legal team ensures all participants are on the same page and no witness deviates from the official narrative.
Victoria Police appears a corrupt, compromised and incompetent body. It stumbles from one disaster to the next. It requires a comprehensive clean-out, the rigorous attention of an anti-corruption body with the clout necessary to kick it back into shape. Many of its senior members probably deserve to be sent to languish in the protective wing of a Victorian jail.