More magistrates and a new night court for bail hearings will strengthen Victoria's legal system and keep dangerous criminals off the street, according to state premier Daniel Andrews.
In the wake of the deadly Bourke Street incident on Friday, where a man reportedly released on bail over multiple offences drove his car into crowds of people in Melbourne's CBD. Five people have died -- a 10-year-old girl, a 3-month-old baby boy, two men and a woman -- with 15 more still in hospital.
There has been community outrage over Dimitrious Gargasoulas being released on bail on January 14, just six days before the rampage on Friday. In response, Premier Andrews announced on Monday the state would urgently add resources to its bail system to better assess applications. Some bail hearings in Victoria are presided over by a volunteer bail justice who does not need any legal qualifications, rather than a magistrate or judge.
Andrews said the state's Magistrates Court would establish an after-hours court to assess bail applications at night, as well as announcing a "full and proper examination of the bail system in its entirety" headed by former director of public prosecution, Justice Paul Coghlan.
"We will, as soon as possible, and work is currently under way, to establish an after hours Magistrates Court so that magistrates, rather than bail justices, will be able to hear bail applications, particularly for those serious matters. And by that, in broad terms, they'd be best defined by those matters involving violence," Andrews told a press conference in Melbourne.
"The work that I've referred to involves additional magistrates, additional resources... no expense will be spared, to get this right."
"Further resources will be made available so that magistrates can be on call as soon as possible and we think that that will be in just a matter of days."
Victorian Attorney-General Martin Pakula said the review of the bail system would investigate "how the balance between community protection and the balance of innocence can be better reflected".
The man allegedly behind Friday's incident has still not interviewed or charged by police. Gargasoulas was shot in the arm by police, and has been in hospital for treatment and surgery. Police have not yet been given clearance to interview or 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 Graham Ashton said.
"That still hasn't happened because of his medical condition."
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