Detective hoped for Gargasoulas' surrender

Police attempts to arrest James Gargasoulas before the Bourke Street massacre are under scrutiny.
Police attempts to arrest James Gargasoulas before the Bourke Street massacre are under scrutiny.

A senior detective in charge of police following James Gargasoulas through Melbourne thought the killer would be safely arrested before he drove down Bourke Street.

Acting Detective Inspector Damian Jackson told the 12th day of an inquest into the January 2017 tragedy he thought the matter would be "resolved peacefully".

"An offender on the run is obviously something that occurs almost daily - there's probably two, three, four happening right now," the now-acting inspector testified on Tuesday.

He said the plan was to convince Gargasoulas to surrender and get out of the car so police could safely arrest him.

He believed Gargasoulas was "negotiating his surrender" with another officer who he had been communicating with via phone calls and text messages.

"My experience is that if an offender is willing to speak to police, more often than not, the matter will resolve peacefully," Acting Inspector Jackson said.

But he admits he was unaware Gargasoulas was an extremely violent offender with a history of evading police.

He did not know he had been using ice the day before and had suffered from drug-induced delusions and psychosis.

"I would expect that those things would have been told to me," he said.

"It probably would've elevated the risk in my view."

He was also attending other duties when Moorabbin police broadcast over the police radio there was "absolutely no chance he (Gargasoulas) will pull over".

Detective Senior Constable Murray Gentner was one of the officers following Gargasoulas that Friday morning and had sent a series of messages to him minutes before he drove down Bourke Street.

Gargasoulas responded in a series of texts, referring to himself as a "saviour" and said police would "need an army" to stop him.

Acting Inspector Jackson was unaware of the content of the text messages and defended the police response.

"I look at this incident and I know a lot of the discussion we've had has been in hindsight," he said.

"I don't think anyone in their right mind thought it was going to turn into what it did."

Gargasoulas would go on to mow down pedestrians in Bourke Street, killing six people. He was jailed in February for at least 46 years.

The inquest continues before coroner Jacqui Hawkins.

Australian Associated Press