John Avery (L) and Mike Willesee (R) conferring about the video of Martin Bryant
By Dee McLachlan
Once again “investigative” journalist Mike Willesee covered Martin Bryant — briefly — on Channel 7 this past Sunday night (13 March 2016). We were given some more scenes from the valuable police interview conducted on July 4, 1996.
To my eyes, even the bits we have “been permitted” to see are persuasive as to his innocence. (Never mind that the narrator puts a different spin on it.) But I’m left wondering: what are we being prevented from seeing? And who is Willesee to do this cherry-picking?
Gumshoe will pursue a complete copy of the video.
Bryant’s own lawyer, John Avery, admits on camera, shockingly, that he did not provide Bryant any defense at all. He did everything in his power to help the prosecution’s story.
In a normal world that would be cause for an immediate mistrial. Oh sorry, I forgot — there was never any trial for Martin Bryant.
I provide below an extract of the March 13th program. It adds more video footage of the police interview (done in hospital). Last week when we saw excerpts of this on Mike Willesee’s show, it was, I believe, the first time in 20 years that any laypersons got to see it!
From last night’s bit:
Willisee Narration: “Bryant denied he killed 35 people…”
Interrogator: “You took one of the guns out of the bag and opened fire in the cafe”
Bryant “Why would I do that?”
Interrogator: “I don’t know, you tell me.”
Bryant: “Why would anyone do a thing like that?… I wouldn’t hurt a person in my life.”
Willisee Narration: “The internet is riddled with conspiracy theories questioning Bryant’s guilt. But he eventually told the truth to his lawyer John Avery” [my emphasis]
Avery: “After he gave this cock and bull story about going surfing… and I pooh poohed that… he then readily went through the events that were consistent with the facts.”
I wonder what we can expect on the 20th Anniversary?
The shooter (L) and Martin Bryant (R) after the Seascape fire
Perhaps we are permitted a few tidbits each decade. Ten years after the massacre, we were also given a depressing report on the prisoner’s condition, and a few “insightful” words from lawyer Avery. I quote now from the Sydney Morning Herald, March 28, 2006:
Australia’s worst mass murderer has become an overweight “zombie” who refuses to speak, his mother and doctors say. It has been nearly 10 years since Martin Bryant killed 35 people and seriously injured many more … In a rare interview before the anniversary of the April 28, 1996 killings, Bryant’s mother Carleen says her son won’t speak to her.
“Martin is like a zombie,” she told The Bulletin magazine.
“He won’t speak; he just stares into the middle distance. I can sit in front of him for 15 minutes and he says nothing.”
A doctor who has seen Bryant recently told the magazine: “He is an overweight, shambolic wreck”. The unnamed doctor says “What he has now is far worse than the death penalty.”
Bryant, who turns 39 on May 7, has been held in the hospital ward at Hobart’s Risdon Prison since he was jailed in 1996.
Initially, he made some effort to interact with other prisoners but all attempts to integrate him with the general prison population have failed. According to The Bulletin, Bryant spends most days alone inside his cell.
He no longer reads or watches television, has no friends, and although he is said to receive large numbers of letters, mostly from women, he never opens them. Mrs Bryant, who lives in southern Tasmania, says one of her deepest regrets is agreeing to persuade her son to plead guilty. “My poor Martin,” she says. “He couldn’t have shot all those people down at Port Arthur. He didn’t have the brains to do it.” Forensic psychologist Ian Joblin examined Bryant after the massacre and concluded he was borderline intellectually disabled, his IQ equivalent to an 11-year-old. He also found Bryant was sane at the time of the massacre — a conclusion he now doubts….
Bryant’s former defence lawyer John Avery paints a different picture. “His only regret afterwards was that he didn’t shoot more [people],” he told The Bulletin. “This was not a situation that got out of hand. It went as he pretty much intended.”
A memorial service and community concert will mark the 10th anniversary of the killings. Prime Minister John Howard and Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon are expected to attend. AAP