Special unit didn't intercept Gargasoulas

Melissa Iaria
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BOURKE STREET INQUEST

Former policeman Frank Caridi has been critical of the force's response to the Bourke Street driver

Police were "dumbfounded" a special unit trained in handling violent armed offenders refused to intercept the Bourke Street driver hours before his CBD killing spree.

Former policeman Frank Caridi says he sought help from the critical incident response team to arrest James Gargasoulas hours after he tried to kill his brother, but was refused.

"This was a classic CIRT textbook type of job so we were dumbfounded," Mr Caridi told an inquest into the killings on Friday.

"We were like 'what do you do now?'"

However, the former South Melbourne sergeant said that 15 minutes after the refusal, he believed he was out of options and returned to the office to do paperwork as Gargasoulas remained on the loose.

An inquest has heard the offender's phone was pinged in a St Kilda street after he stabbed his brother in the early hours of January 20, 2017.

Mr Caridi came up with a plan to arrest him by blocking him in an unmarked van.

He called the CIRT for help, telling Acting Sergeant Kalev Jones that Gargasoulas could be extremely violent, had a history of baiting police and was likely armed.

"They said 'we don't do mobile intercepts'. If we blocked him in, they'd come and do the arrest but he wouldn't entertain the idea," Mr Caridi said.

"He was just looking for excuses not to come out."

Mr Caridi said he came up with the plain van plan because using marked police cars would only provoke Gargasoulas and could've led to an armed confrontation.

Ben Ihle, lawyer for Acting Sgt Jones, questioned why Gargasoulas couldn't be pursued on foot, but Mr Caridi said he'd flee from uniformed police.

"You know CIRT are uniformed?"Mr Ihle asked.

"Yes," Mr Caridi replied.

Mr Caridi agreed his plan was based on assumptions, including that Gargasoulas had the phone on him and police could find him within the 50 metre radius of the ping, despite an area of dead end streets.

He also disagreed Sgt Jones had told him he needed an address.

"He didn't say that at all," he said.

"The appropriate course of action for an armed offender who just tried to murder someone is to call the critical response team.

"(They) are trained in dealing with armed offenders."

Mr Caridi said by 4.30am, knowing CIRT refused to attend, he was out of options.

He said his staff were deployed to the crime scene and he didn't consider the support of the air wing or state surveillance unit viable options.

A statement by Superintendent Peter Ward said CIRT did not have vehicles at that time capable of stopping fleeing or erratic cars.

Later that day, Gargasoulas drove into the CBD and killed six pedestrians and injured dozens more.

Gargasoulas, who suffers paranoid schizophrenia, was jailed in February for at least 46 years.

The inquest continues on Monday.