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I just see the face of my son: plea for PSO attacker ignored, mother says

THE mother of the man who killed himself after attacking a protective services officer (PSO) with a hammer outside Parliament House wants to know why police did nothing after being warned he had been acting suspiciously in the city six hours before the attack.

Josie Hollingsworth told the Coroners Court on Tuesday that her son, David, 30, of Chadstone, could have been carrying a bomb in his bag.

She said her son had been distressed waiting for her doctor to confirm if she had cancer when he attacked the PSO, James Vongvixay. The attack took place 12 hours before her diagnosis was confirmed.

Questions she had for Deputy State Coroner Iain West, who is investigating David's death, included what did police do after it had been reported her son was acting strangely in the city at about 2pm.

Mrs Hollingsworth also wanted to know why Mr Vongvixay was working alone because she was certain David would not have approached him if he had had a partner with him.

Jodie Burns, counsel assisting the coroner, told the court during a directions hearing that Mr Vongvixay had been on duty when David Hollingsworth asked him for directions just after 8.30pm on December 11 last year.


Hollingsworth then produced a hammer and struck the PSO on the body and head, causing him to fall to the ground.

A code-9 alarm was raised and several PSOs came to Mr Vongvixay's assistance. Hollingsworth had taken Mr Vongvixay's automatic handgun from his holster and walked up to Wellington Parade. There he suffered what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Ms Burns told the court that more than 40 witnesses would be called to the inquest on Hollingsworth's death and it would take police at least three months to prepare a brief of evidence.

She said Mrs Hollingsworth had raised several issues with her before Tuesday's hearing, including her distress at seeing television footage of her dead son lying on the road after the shooting. The images of Hollingsworth at the scene where he died were still on the internet.

''I can't sleep,'' Mrs Hollingsworth told the coroner. ''I can't do anything. I just see the face of my son.''

Mrs Hollingsworth pleaded with the coroner to stop the media from showing the images of her dead son.

Mr West said he did not have power to make such an order but urged the media to show respect to Mr Hollingsworth and his family.

He ordered police to finalise the brief of evidence by April 30. A date for the inquest is yet to be fixed.

Mrs Hollingsworth said she would be travelling to France to see her daughter and granddaughter but would return for the inquest.

She claimed that a day before the attack she had called a hotline to say she was scared her son was going to take his life but was told she had the wrong number and they could not help her. She did not say which number she had called.

Mr Vongvixay was discharged from Epworth Hospital last Friday after suffering a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain. A PSO for seven years, Mr Vongvixay said he was looking forward to going home but also hoped to return to duty.