The gunman’s blue sportsbag and yellow drink can (Solo) in the Broad Arrow Cafe?
By Dee McLachlan
I cannot being to imagine what Carolyn Loughton has gone through. Her 15-year-old daughter Sarah was killed, and Carolyn was severely wounded. I watched her, and others, in the program on the ABC on Sunday night and noted how much they hated Martin Bryant. One cannot blame them for those feelings — for many of the victims, Bryant’s 35 life sentences is not harsh enough. One could say, that at least they are able to direct their anger onto one person.
But what if their anger is misdirected?
The first exoneration of a prisoner by using DNA evidence took place in the US in 1989. Since then, 337 people have been exonerated through DNA of whom 20 had served time on Death Row. About 4,600 years have been wrongfully served — with the average of 14 years per prisoner. (see www.innocenceproject.org.)
With regard to DNA Evidence, I will cite just two cases:
- In 1984, Jennifer Thompson was raped and she picked Ronald Cotton as the man who raped her from a police lineup. Sentenced to two life terms, he was exonerated 11 years later in 1995 — through DNA evidence. Jennifer was racked with guilt, and two years later agreed to meet Ronald. They became firm friends and co-wrote the memoir, Picking Cotton.
- In North Carolina, two brothers — Henry McCollum and Leon Brown (19 and 15) — confessed to rape and murder. They were both intellectually disabled, yet maintained their innocence — saying they did not know they were signing a confession. In 2010, Brown contacted the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission, which discovered DNA evidence that implicated another person. Both men were freed in 2014 based on the DNA evidence.
It is normal for humans to want a conclusion, and when we are provided with one — most of us accept the outcome. But evidence needs to be presented and checked.
In a case where 35 people were brutally murdered, the public should expect great caution, and extra-diligent legal process.
I presume that all of the 337 people exonerated were given a trial — and yet the system still failed them. In the case of Martin Bryant — he was not even provided a trial, and that was despite the fact that he was an intellectually challenged person!
This abandonment of due process was vividly presented in the Channel 7 Mike Willesee documentary of March 6, 2016. No trial. No coronal inquest. No DNA evidence presented. How extraordinary!
Don’t Ask Questions
Ian McNiven was attending a presentation by one of the leading forensic investigators into the Port Arthur killings at a Queensland University on the 21st of November in 2002. He wrote an article called, Threatened with Arrest for Asking a Forensic Question.
During the presentation he asked a question:
“Was any solid empirical forensic evidence such as finger prints or DNA found that links Martin Bryant to the shootings in the café?”
The speaker then proceeded to waffle on about ballistic evidence, then McNiuven asked a second question:
“Did you find Bryant’s fingerprints on the bullet cases or any of Bryant’s DNA at the café?”
The speaker ended question time and said he would answer the question during the break. But that never happened. McNiven then describes how the evening turned sour when he was barred from going back in after the break:
“One of the burly gentlemen stood in my way and told me if I went in I would disrupt the meeting and University Security would be called, they would call the Police and ‘people may be arrested….‘ I was being threatened with arrest for doing nothing more than asking a simple forensic question.”
Allegedly when this speaker was asked the same question during a presentation in the US — the answer was “no”, there was no forensic evidence of Bryant in the cafe.
The gun in the boot of the Volvo
Why is the DNA evidence forensic evidence ignored?
Surely fingerprints would have been recorded on this rifle found in the boot of Martin Bryant’s car. There is also the famous tray that the gunman left on a table containing the drink can that he had held in his (bare) hand. And much has been written about the tray — and in great detail. It would have had fingerprints and saliva and this could have been used to identify the shooter. What happened to this evidence? Was it lost?
Is this a case where the law is being deliberately subverted?
We need to know. Our children need to know.
And if people are threatened for asking the questions — then we know the carcass is rotten. This should be a clear indication that there is foul play by the government. An honest judicial system should be demanding that these questions be asked — even 20 years on.
I don’t want to imagine the day when Carolyn Loughton and others comes to the realisation that the full story has been deliberately concealed from them.
Coming to terms with the thought that some “arm” of government may have had a hand in this terrible crime might be too much to bare. What a terrible tragedy this Port Arthur story is for those victims and family members. And so I can understand that they might prefer to never know the truth — but have the small comfort that a man rots in jail.
But the real tragedy for Australia is when the search for truth is denied.