A policeman has denied a woman held "hostage" by James Gargasoulas before the Bourke Street massacre told him he was going to run people over.
Senior Constable Roland Jones of the critical incident response team encountered Gargasoulas about two hours before he fatally mowed down pedestrians in Melbourne CBD in 2017.
His unit came across the offender in his stolen car near the Westgate Bridge, and approached on foot.
Gargasoulas pushed a woman from his car onto the road and police arrested her.
He sped away from police who were trailing him for hours after he stabbed his brother.
Sen Const Jones, who had his gun drawn, said the woman claimed to be a hostage and he asked her where the offender was headed.
"The only information she gave me was that he was going to Werribee to buy drugs," he told the Coroners Court of Victoria on Wednesday.
He rejected claims put to him by counsel assisting, Stephen O'Meara, that the woman told him Gargasoulas was then going to the city to run people over.
"I don't agree with that," Sen Const Jones responded.
"She didn't say that."
He said his answer carried a "huge level of confidence because I would've conveyed that information to other police and investigators".
About two hours later, the offender ran people down in Bourke Street, killing six people and injuring 27.
The detective in charge of the team trying to arrest the killer before his rampage slapped down criticism of his approach
Detective Senior Sergeant Darren Humphries from the Port Phillip crime unit said he would not have done things differently.
This is despite criticisms contained in a review by Assistant Commissioner Stephen Fontana, claiming Humphries spent a great deal of time in the field but did not take charge or communicate with other supervising units on air or by phone, document the need for a different plan or seek other specialist support.
"Hindsight's a wonderful thing," he responded.
"With all due respect to Mr Fontana, I don't think that's an adequate reflection of our efforts our endeavours or our objectives on the day.
"We were doing everything we possibly could in accordance with policy to bring this guy into our custody as quickly and safely as we could."
Police made repeated requests for the air wing from 7.30am but it was unavailable due to a fuel shortage.
It was available after midday, but the on-board camera was not working and so the aircraft flew low, "spooking" the offender, Det Sen Sgt Humphries said.
The detective also called for legislative change to give police more power to track criminals' phones quickly.
Just over an hour after he stabbed his brother, police sought triangulation - a sophisticated and accurate tracking - of Gargasoulas' mobile phone.
But they were rejected twice before several requests were authorised at 4.17am.
By this time, the offender had been at large for about two hours.
"It should be as simple as doing a registration check," Det Sen Sgt Humphries said.
The inquest continues.
Australian Associated Press