Flinders St accused may face more charges

THE man accused of mowing down pedestrians in a 4WD on Melbourne's Flinders Street on Thursday has faced Melbourne Magistrates' Court charged with attempted murder.

Saeed Noori, 32, of Heidelberg West, has been charged with 18 counts of attempted murder and one count of conduct endangering life.

According to the Herald Sun, detectives allege he hit the crowd "with the intention of killing or causing injury to as many people as possible".

Mr Noori's mother, Shakiba Jalaly, was present at the court, and she "burst into tears and rocked back and forth" during the proceedings.

She told the Herald Sun in broken English: "Beautiful son, drug no good. Three years sick, very sick. All the time he's sick. Very, very beautiful son. Beautiful son, drug no good, all the time drug."

She attempted to take a photograph of her son with her mobile phone and approach him in the dock before being cautioned by security, and swung her handbag at media gathered outside the court.

The Melbourne man, who fronted court dressed in a grey tshirt and hung his head as his mother wept, did not apply for bail.

He will now be assessed by a psychiatrist before reappearing on December 27.

It comes after allegations Noori was "rambling" about Allah and intelligence agency ASIO (Australian Security Intelligence Organisation) from his hospital bed following the Thursday afternoon rampage.

Police also claim he spoke about the persecution of Muslims following the attack.

Acting chief commissioner of Victoria Police Shane Patton told the Herald Sun there was no evidence the attack was premeditated or terror-related.

"I think there was something, and I don't know the exact detail, to do with Allah and some ramblings about ASIO," Mr Patton said.

"We still haven't ruled out terrorism. We continue to explore it. It's about exploring the evidence and the evidence will ultimately take us where it does. If that means it's a terrorist event, so be it."

Earlier, Victorian police said they would investigate 300 so-called "fixated persons" in a bid to stop lone-wolf terrorist attacks.

Noori, an Afghan refugee, has a history of mental health issues and drug abuse and he spent a fortnight as an ­involuntary psychiatric patient earlier this year. He has been discharged from hospital, but remains in police custody.

Police searched the alleged ice addict's public housing home and seized computers and other items, however, they have found no link between Mr Noori and any terrorist organisations.

As a result, the incident has not been declared a terrorist attack.

According to The Australian, from February 2018, a newly-formed police unit will investigate up to 300 fixated persons - "potentially violent obsessives who live in the midway point between criminality and mental illness".

They will draw upon mental health information from the Department of Health and Human Services and police intelligence.

"They comprise three groups of concern: number one is fixated persons, number would be radicalised or violent extremists and the third group is the lone-actor attackers," Victoria Police assistant commissioner Ross Guenther said.

Fixated persons units are already operational in Queensland and NSW and overseas and they have played an important anti-terror role.

At a press conference on Saturday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said there would be an increased police presence across the state following the "cowardly act" on Flinders Street.

"Victorian police have the resources and the resolve to do everything that needs to be done to keep the community safe," he said. "People across Victoria have already noticed an increased police presence … and that will continue to grow.

"There will be more Victorian police at things like the Big Bash, the Boxing Day Test, Carols by Candlelight and New Year's Eve.

"It's important that people follow instructions from members of security staff and Victorian police. It's important that people are patient, cooperative and remain vigilant."

Meanwhile, a red-shirted, bearded man who was arrested after filming the Flinders Street carnage has been released after it was found he had no links with the attack.

The 24-year-old man, who allegedly had knives and marijuana in his backpack, was released after police determined Mr Noori acted alone.

Mr Noori ploughed into pedestrians on Melbourne's busy Flinders Street around 4:40pm on Thursday. He was travelling at around 100km/h.

It has been revealed that nine victims are foreign nationals, while the oldest victim was an 83-year-old Melbourne man who was critically injured.

Among the victims are two South Korean men aged in their 60s, a four-year-old boy from South Korea, a 40-year-old Venezuelan man, a 25-year-old Irish woman, a 45-year-old Indian man, a 24-year-old Chinese man and other Melbourne locals.

It has been reported that 12 victims remain in hospital, with three in a critical condition.

Saeed Noori has lived in Australia since 2004, and is an Australian citizen. He has lived in Melbourne for years and was known to police following an assault in 2010. It has also been reported that he was on a "mental health plan".

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