Accused Flinders Street driver Saeed Noori mowed down 18 pedestrians with the intention of killing or seriously injuring as many people as possible, police have alleged in court.
Mr Noori, 32, kept his head down when he faced Melbourne Magistrates Court on Saturday afternoon.
He has been charged with 18 counts of attempted murder and one count of reckless conduct endangering life.
Mr Noori’s mother, who speaks little English, was in court to support him and was visibly distressed, rocking back and forth throughout.
When her son first appeared in the dock, she stood up and appeared to try to take a photo of him as her son put his head in his hands before she was reprimanded by court security.
Police prosecutor Senior Constable Amitoj Singh told the court Mr Noori allegedly drove at pedestrians with “the intention of killing or causing serious injury to as many people as possible”.
His motive, Senior Constable Singh said, was still under investigation.
Mr Noori’s lawyer Tass Antos said his client had mental health issues.
Magistrate Bob Kumar ordered him to undergo a psychiatric assessment.
???Mr Noori, charged by Detective acting Sergeant Chris Saulle of the homicide squad, made no application for bail.
Police will allege Mr Noori pulled out of traffic on Flinders Street, then drove down the tram tracks and through the Elizabeth Street intersection where he allegedly mowed down 18 pedestrians at 4.41pm on Thursday.
Twenty people presented to hospital on Thursday. Ten were still in hospital on Saturday evening, three in a critical condition.
Accused Flinders Street driver Saeed Noori leaves West Melbourne Police Station before appearing in Melbourne Magistrates Court. Photo: Darrian Traynor
Mr Kumar remanded Mr Noori in custody to face court again on December 27.
He was interviewed at Melbourne West Police Station on Saturday after being discharged from hospital on Friday.
His court appearance came as several victims of the attack were discharged from hospital. But several others are still fighting for their lives.
“Those three who are in critical conditions are still a real cause of concern and I’m sure all Victorians would join me with me in sending our best wishes to them and their families,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said on Saturday.
“The good news is that, steadily, people are going home, having received the care that they need. We had a top, I think, of 20 people who were in our hospitals.”
A spokesperson from the South Korean Consulate has confirmed that three of the injured are members of a South Korean family in Melbourne to visit a relative.
Two of the group, men aged 61 and 67, remain in a critical condition. An 83-year-old man from Northcote, in Melbourne’s north, is also critical.
A four-year-old South Korean boy, who is also part of the family group, is in a stable condition.
Nine of those injured in the incident are foreign nationals, from countries including Venezuela, India, China, Italy and Ireland.
The off-duty sergeant who restrained the driver at the scene underwent surgery for his hand on Friday.
The officer, who is well known in police ranks, was visited on Saturday morning by Victoria Police acting Chief Commissioner Shane Patton and the premier.
Sixteen of the officers who responded were on their first day out of the police academy.
Another 10 were also first responders to the Bourke Street attack on January 20, in which six people died and dozens were injured when a man drove a car through crowds of pedestrians on Swanston Street and in Bourke Street Mall.
It’s also understood the homicide investigators who have carriage of the Flinders Street investigation were also involved in the Bourke Street case.
While the motive for the attack is not believed to be terror-related, security has been increased across the city following Thursday’s incident.
Speaking at the MCG on Saturday morning to announce security plans for major events such as Carols by Candlelight and the Boxing Day Test, Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Stephen Leane said a strongly increased police presence at events across the festive season would not place a strain on police resources.
“Victoria Police have the resources and resolve to do everything that needs to be done to keep the community safe,” he said.
Assistant Commissioner Leane said police had spent months planning security for the events. .
Mr Andrews said the build-up of police resources was part of a long-term plan.
“We are recruiting more police than we have ever had in our state’s history, which means we have more resources to deal with contemporary threats.”
Delays are expected at all public events over the Christmas period and Mr Andrews asked the public to plan ahead and be patient.
Asked if the Victorian Government had increased security for hospitals or provided funding for additional mental health beds over the holiday period, Mr Andrews said: “Hospital security arrangements are a matter for individual hospitals.”
with Joe Hinchcliffe and Jane Gilmore