Families of Bourke St victims lash police

Georgie Moore
·2-min read

Families of six people murdered in Melbourne's Bourke Street Mall rampage have lashed police for refusing to own their botched attempts to stop killer James Gargasoulas.

Coroner Jacqui Hawkins on Thursday detailed a multitude of police mistakes - including poor leadership, planning and communication - in the lead-up to the rampage on January 20, 2017.

Victims' families hit out at what they said was the refusal of police officers involved to accept responsibility during the inquest.

"It was difficult to hear these officers reject any criticisms that were made of their actions, even when these criticisms had been levelled by senior members of the Victoria Police command," lawyer Genna Angelowitsch said in a statement on behalf of some of the families.

This suggested "a persisting disconnect between serving members of the force" and its leadership, the families said.

Three-month-old Zachary Bryant and 10-year-old Thalia Hakin were among those murdered.

Also killed were 22-year-old Jess Mudie, Yosuke Kanno, 25, and 33-year-olds Bhavita Patel and Matthew Si.

Mr Si's widow, Melinda Tan, said "it is clear to me that no one will accept any responsibility on their part for the events on that day or the lead up to it".

Victoria Police maintains no one could have predicted Gargasoulas' rampage.

"However, with the benefit of hindsight, it is clear there were some shortcomings in our operational response," Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said.

"The community should know we are committed to doing everything we can to prevent an incident like this from occurring again."

The force has since overhauled its hostile vehicle attack policy and beefed up specialist divisions to deal with high-level incidents.

Ms Hawkins has made nine recommendations including that police review how they manage critical incidents.

She also called for better supervision and training for officers involved in bail hearings.

Six days before Gargasoulas mowed down pedestrians in a stolen car, he was released from custody in an after-hours hearing before a bail justice.

Police and the justice department have been asked to look at the use of body-worn cameras to record such hearings in the future.

Mr Patton said police would take time to read the full report and consider the recommendations.

Premier Daniel Andrews paid respect to the dignity, courage and bravery of the victims' families.

"The grief that they carry with them every day is absolutely profound and we should think of them today," he said.