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Accused Bourke St killer 'smiles' when speaking about tragedy, psychologist says

The Age logo The Age 6 days ago Chris Vedelago & Adam Cooper

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James (Dimitrious) Gargasoulas smiles when he speaks about the Bourke Street tragedy, his psychologist says.

Mr Gargasoulas, 28, is accused of killing six people, including two children, when he drove along Bourke Street on January 20 last year.

He is now facing an "investigation hearing" in the Supreme Court, where a number of psychiatrists and psychologists are being called to give evidence to determine if he is fit to stand trial over the incident.

A report by psychologist Professor Michael Daffern was read to the court on Wednesday describing Mr Gargasoulas' emotions when discussing the Bourke Street tragedy.

"He smiled inappropriately before describing the sequence of events after he turned from Swanston Street into Bourke Street," Professor Daffern wrote.

"When I asked him about this smiling he appeared surprised and he denied smiling.

"He also smiled when he talked about driving naked and doing 360s outside a nightclub in Chapel Street and he smiled and bragged about assaulting a man in a fast food restaurant on Chapel Street."

Accused Bourke Street driver Dimitrious Gargasoulas arrives at the Supreme Court on Wednesday. © AAP Accused Bourke Street driver Dimitrious Gargasoulas arrives at the Supreme Court on Wednesday. Psychiatrist Dr Lester Walton, who has diagnosed Mr Gargasoulas as schizophrenic and unfit to stand trial, told the court that Mr Gargasoulas had a "substantial recall" of the events of January 20.

But Dr Walton said Mr Gargasoulas was "indifferent" when he spoke about them.

"When he talks about this tragic event he does it in the most bland, indifferent way without the sort of distress or sadness or whatever appropriate emotion that might accompany being involved in such an incident," Dr Walton testified.

Dr Walton has previously testified that Mr Gargasoulas told him that he had hoped to escape police by running down at least one person in Bourke Street so he could be free to "promulgate" the idea that he was the Messiah.

Mr Gargasoulas, who has spent nearly 17 months in solitary confinement, told Dr Walton that he wanted to be sent to a hospital in the hope of one day being released.

The court heard Mr Gargasoulas was locked away from other prisoners in a high-security cell for 23 hours a day and allowed to spend only one hour a day in an external courtyard due to security concerns.

Dr Walton said his patient wanted to be sent to Thomas Embling Psychiatric Hospital where he would have more freedom.

"He can make a sensible comment, for example, that his current quite confined treatment is likely to be less onerous in hospital, which is hopefully correct," Dr Walton testified.

Dr Walton said, however, that Mr Gargasoulas was clearly delusional because he believed that he was set to be freed in 2020 by the intervention of "Aboriginal royalty" following the appearance of a comet.

The court was told this was just one of a series of delusions held by Mr Gargasoulas, including that he was Jesus Christ, "King James George Gargasoulas", "ruler of all the universe" and "king of kings".

Yet Professor Daffern is of the view that Mr Gargasoulas is fit to stand trial and "invested" in a particular outcome.

"In my opinion Mr Gargasoulas has shown a preparedness and capacity to make a practical choice based upon a belief that a hospital disposal following a ruling of unfitness or mental impairment might allow him some possibility of release into the community at some point in the future," he wrote.

The court was told that Professor Daffern interviewed Mr Gargasoulas for many hours without witnessing the "intrusion of psychotic phenomenon".

"That seems a pretty remarkable effort if these thoughts, these delusions are as pervading and intrusive as you are saying, doesn't it?" senior Crown prosecutor Andrew Tinney asked Dr Walton.

Dr Walton said the issue was that Mr Gargasoulas exhibited delusional behaviour when he "drifts off the point" and this would impact his ability to assist in his own defence.

"It keeps intruding all the time," Dr Walton said.

The hearing before Justic Lex Lasry continues on Thursday.

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