Accused Bourke Street driver James Gargasoulas is determined to plead not guilty so that his case goes to trial and he is given a platform to espouse his views and “save” the world, a psychiatrist has told a hearing investigating his fitness to stand trial.
Andrew Carroll, a psychiatrist engaged by the prosecution, has told the third day of the hearing that Mr Gargasoulas is unfit to stand trial because his decision-making is underpinned by his “messianic delusional belief that he is the saviour”.
“Mr Gargasoulas is aware of the implications of a guilty plea … he absolutely wanted to make sure he had a trial of some kind so he has a public platform,” Dr Carroll said.
“He understands the relevant facts … he can retain those facts, he can communicate his preferences to his lawyer.
“But where he falls down, in my view, is can he rationally weigh up the pros and cons of the pleas open to him?
“His delusional beliefs are of such a nature that he’s unable to rationally weigh the options open to him,” he said.
Dr Carroll has diagnosed Mr Gargasoulas with paranoid schizophrenia.
Gargasoulas ‘wants all jurors to be religious’
He told the court Mr Gargasoulas had speeches he wanted to make in court and had told him “we are talking the end of the world here and I am the only one who can save it”.
Under cross examination, prosecutor Andrew Tinney SC asked Dr Carroll if the fact Mr Gargasoulas wanted to use a criminal trial as a platform to advance his views meant he could not rationally consider whether to plead not guilty.
“The platform idea … is based on deluded beliefs,” Dr Carroll responded.
“My view is that delusions of this nature and intensity… gets Mr Gargasoulas over the threshold of being unfit.
“He wanted every member of the jury to be a religious person.
“His sense is, that if the jury is religious enough, they will find him not guilty.
“So again, we have his delusional thinking intruding on his weighing up of the options available to him.”
Dr Carroll acknowledged Mr Gargasoulas would prefer to be in the Thomas Embling psychiatric hospital rather than under 23-hour lockdown in prison and understood he might be transferred to the facility if he pleaded not guilty due to mental impairment.
“He cares about the long-term implications … but simultaneously he cares probably more immediately about the need to get his message across to the public,” he said.
Mr Gargasoulas is charged with six counts of murder, 28 counts of attempted murder and other offences.
Dr Carroll told the court Mr Gargasoulas had been cooperative while being interviewed and did not exhibit any abnormal behaviour, but did not fully appreciate the gravity of his alleged offending and the situation he was in.
But he said there was “clear evidence he remains profoundly psychotic — he very fluidly talked about his various delusional beliefs”.
Dr Carroll was given access to the 6,500-page police brief of evidence, Mr Gargasoulas’ Justice Health records, letters he had written in jail and transcripts of phone conversations he had had since being in custody.
The hearing before Justice Lex Lasry continues.