Bourke St charges drive up Vic homicides

Melbourne’s Bourke Street Mall tragedy, which killed six people and seriously injured dozens, has been blamed for a jump in the state’s homicide rate.


The homicide figure jumped almost 10 per cent to 233 in the 2016-17 financial year, the state’s Crime Statistics Agency revealed on Thursday.

“In fact murders themselves are down by 13 per cent, it is all related to the Bourke Street tragedy that we’ve seen that increase,” Police Minister Lisa Neville told reporters.

Dimitrious Gargasoulas is charged with the January rampage through central Melbourne’s main shopping precinct, including six counts of murder.

He also faces 28 attempted murder charges, which contribute to the agency’s definition of “homicide”.

Without the charges stemming from the Bourke Street incident, the total homicide figure would have dropped by 6.2 per cent compared to 2015-16.

The homicide category comprises charges of murder, attempted murder, manslaughter conspiracy or accessory to murder and driving causing death.

While the figure was of “critical concern” to the government it was largely attributed to the mall tragedy, Ms Neville said.

Other “high harm” crimes including aggravated burglaries, robberies and assaults also jumped with growing numbers of crooks using social media to target potential victims, Victoria Police said.

Aggravated burglaries increased by 12.2 per cent, robberies by 10 per cent and assaults by four per cent, the statistics showed.

“It’s terrible and it’s terrifying,” police deputy commissioner Andrew Crisp said of crimes which threaten physical harm.

Jewellery shop robberies in particular had been an area of concern with 27 in the past 12 months, but there had only been one attempt in the past three months, he said.

Police are “determined” to turn around these particular statistics, the senior cop said.

Social media users have also been warned to take care using dating apps, with some sexual assaults linked to meet-ups, he said.

People using popular websites such as Gumtree and eBay have also been targeted by crooks sourcing goods to steal, police added.

Despite the bad news, overall crime rates dropped for the first time in six years.