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Melbourne car attack: Leaders pay their respects to Bourke St victims, Premier considers changes to bail laws

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews will not be drawn on whether the state will reform bail laws following a special meeting of the Government’s emergency and security subcommittee today, in response to Friday’s Bourke Street tragedy.

Five people died, including a three-month-old baby boy, and more than 30 people were injured after the driver sped along a Bourke Street footpath on Friday afternoon.

The suspected driver, 26-year-old Dimitrious Gargasoulas, had a violent criminal history and was “well-known” to police.

Gargasoulas was charged with a crime on January 14 and was granted bail by an after-hours bail justice, despite police opposing it.

The Government’s Security and Emergency Management Cabinet meets at the first opportunity after a major event or disaster.

On the agenda at the meeting was potential reform to the state’s bail laws, including whether Victoria will continue to use after-hours volunteer bail justices, who are not used in any other state.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said it was his job to take the “anger and frustration” Victorians were feeling and put that into reform and change.

But he would not elaborate on what was discussed at the meeting and how bail laws might be reformed.

“I’m not here today to make any announcements about bail or those matters, I will have some things to say quite soon and I’ll be more than happy to take you through the detail of that,” he said.

“As a parent, it’s a very sad day today, there can be nothing more innocent than a little three-month-old baby, that’s our focus today, we are sad, we are angry and we are resolute in making the changes that need to be made to learn from this.”

Bail justices in Victoria are trained volunteers and are only required to be Australian citizens and not insolvent.

Other jurisdictions use on-call magistrates for after hours bail hearings.

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said he respected the independence of the courts, but acknowledged that police were frustrated with the bail system.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t express that frustration that police members feel around the issues, but they’re not just police members, I think everyone that works in the system has issues with it from time to time,” he said.

The Coroner is investigating the tragedy, looking at a number of issues, including Victoria’s justice system.

Police still waiting to charge suspect

Police have spoken to more than 300 witnesses about events at Bourke Street on Friday, and are urging others to come forward with videos or photos or the incident.

Chief Commissioner Ashton said Gargasoulas underwent surgery on his arm last night, after being shot by police before he was arrested.

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Police are still waiting for medical clearance to interview and charge him.

“It’s still our intention as soon as we can get that clearance to interview him and charge him and seek to remand him in custody to a future date,” Chief Commissioner Ashton said.

“That still hasn’t happened because of his medical condition, we did have some hopes around this afternoon, but I’m still getting some advice that it might not be this afternoon.”

Four people injured in the incident remain in a critical condition at hospitals in Melbourne.

Premier Andrews said there were more than 10 people still in hospital and he had grave concerns that the death toll might still rise.

Those who died included 10-year-old girl Thalia Hakin, a 25-year-old man, a 33-year-old man, a 32-year-old woman and the three-month-old baby boy who passed away Saturday evening.

The Jewish community is holding a community memorial and prayer service for Thalia tonight.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition leader Bill Shorten were Melbourne today to pay their respects to the victims of the Bourke Street mall tragedy.

The Victorian Government set up a fund for the families affected by the incident. It pledged an initial $100,0000 and said anyone who wanted to make a donation could do via the Victorian Government’s website

A vigil is also being planned for Monday evening, at Federation Square.

This post originally appeared on ABC News.


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