James Gargasoulas, centre, leaves the Victorian Supreme Court after sentencing, in Melbourne, Australia. Picture: David Crosling/AAP Image via AP

Canberra - An Australian man who killed six people and injured 27 others when he deliberately drove his car into pedestrians on a busy Melbourne street in 2017 has been sentenced to life in prison, according to local media.

Known as the Bourke Street killer, James Gargasoulas was Friday sentenced to spend at least 46 years in jail for committing what Justice Mark Weinberg described as one of Australia's "worst examples of mass murder." 

A jury in November found him guilty of the murder of six people, including a 3-month-old baby and a 10-year-old girl, as well as trying to kill another 27 pedestrians, as Gargasoulas rampaged through the busy pedestrian area in a stolen car in January 2017. 

The 29-year-old remained emotionless in Victoria's Supreme Court on Friday as the judge gave the verdict, according to Australian Associated Press. 

"This was one of the worst examples of mass murder in Australian history," the judge said in the packed room of more than 100 people.

"You left a trail of destruction behind you... The horror of what you did has profoundly impacted the lives of those who were present that day."

Weinberg sentenced Gargasoulas to six life terms for the murders. He will be eligible for parole in 2065.

The defence said Gargasoulas was in a drug-induced psychosis at the time of the rampage, but the judge rejected the argument, saying: "You knew full well what you were doing."

During the trial, Gargasoulas took to the witness stand to apologize and offer an "explanation," saying he had a premonition half an hour before the attack giving him permission to run people down in order to evade police but did not have permission to kill anyone. 

"I am not evil. I am not a terrorist. I am a freedom fighter who is now educated to stop oppression," Gargasoulas had said.

Gargasoulas admitted to the killings but had pleaded not guilty. 

The jury in November took just over an hour to reach their unanimous verdict and found him guilty on all charges - six murders and 27 counts of reckless conduct endangering life.

An earlier jury had found Gargasoulas, who suffers treatment-resistant paranoid schizophrenia, fit to stand trial.

dpa