Artist’s sketch of Bryant in court for sentencing November 1996, now shorn of his golden locks
by Mary W Maxwell
Dee McLachlan’s article, “Permission Denied,” showed that Stewart Beattie is trying to expose certain lies that have crushed Australia. Beattie is the author of A Gunsmith’s Notebook for Port Arthur (updated 2006). I’ve been glued to that book for the last two days. Wish I could interview Beattie but I haven’t been able to contact him so I’m just going to interview the book itself. Why not.
Mary: You are a wonderful book, a marvelous book.
Book: Thank you.
Mary: I love the layout of the chapters, and some humorous chapter titles, such as ‘The Video Overboard Affair” and “Did Joe Vialls Ever Play Fullback for Jerusalem?”
Book: The chapter on Vialls, and chapters on shootings similar to PA, such as the Aramoana NZ affair, can be skipped over if you need to concentrate on Port Arthur.
Mary: Funny you would say that. That’s what I already did. I knew from the “fullback” chapter that Beattie would say Joe Vialls is probably Ari Ben Menashe.
Book: I think the word is “maybe,” not “probably.”
Mary: I once saw a photo of Ari standing outside the Broad Arrow Café, but I have not since been able to track it down. You did however startle me by saying that a black van with tinted windows and Commonwealth licence plates parked itself in front of the Arrow for more than two hours after the shootings.
Book: Right, and no mention of that appears in the official record.
Mary: You also have a several-page timeline on the final pages. Example: “At 1422 hours Constable Hyland arrives at Fox and Hounds, assists only ‘P9,’ Simon Williams (Canadian Embassy official).” By the way I take that to be innuendo, and I love innuendo.
Book: My author, Stewart, has innuendo-ized 21 people in the book.
Mary: Ian Kingston, Richard McCreadie, Perks (Bugg’s junior), Chris Isles, Lynn Beavis, and Hans Overbeeke come straight to mind.
Book: With Overbeeke it’s a tad more than innuendo.
Mary: The Beavis chapter is intricate. What I gather is that Lynn got an award from her employer in Melbourne on the basis of having suffered trauma while she herself was acting as a grief counselor that day. Beattie makes the point that Beavis’s Workmen’s Comp paid her, but Wendy Scurr and other traumatized employees of PAHS (Port Arthur Historic Site) were screwed out of payment.
Book: Yes, that is because in November 1995 – by some feat of prescience – the employment contract deleted “trauma” as one of the injuries that would be covered.
Mary: I didn’t mean to say that money is the main part of Beattie’s analysis of the Beavis factor.
Book: Indeed there are many, many other parts.
Mary: People will want to know where to get the book, Book.
Book: No one has a paper copy anymore but there is a CD. If you look up at Worldcat.org to see which libraries carry it, there is only one in the whole world: The State Library of Tasmania.
Mary: Gosh, during the “20th anniversary” coverage on TV, many people said Tassie tourism is suffering these days. I’ll bet a chance to read the CD in Hobart would bring droves.
Book: Again, thank you for the compliment.
Mary: Actually, maybe there will be tourism to Adelaide to share my copy.
Book: Is Adelaide nice?
Mary: Couldn’t be nicer. Now let’s talk about whistleblowers. At Gumshoe I’ve written of “five collateral deaths” in the Boston Marathon case. They are persons with loose lips, or potential loose lips. (Jahar himself has majorly got potential loose lips so I worry he will slip on a bar of soap in jail). For the Port Arthur case, whistleblowers don’t get bumped off so blatantly.
Book: Two post-massacre deaths in Tassie are mentioned by Beattie. One is Ty Bennett, a young cop whose car “went off the road.” The other is the Tasmanian head of the SES – Special Emergency Service – who died suddenly in 2000: Joe Paul. We have heard that Hans Overbeeke’s son Benjamin committed suicide.
Mary: There will be heaps more collateral deaths unless we start learning some tactics of solidarity. This goes for any similar incident, too.
Book: You know what really gets my goat?
Mary: Tell me.
Book: It annoys that at some time before 2pm on April 28th, the water police were dispatched full speed on the motor launches Van Diemen and Vigilant down the Derwent River toward Port Arthur, but somebody called it off, and no mention of that is in the official record.
Mary: Which annoys you, the cancellation of the marine rescue or the fact that it is hush-hush?
Book: The latter, really, the dishonesty of the whole thing. But of course it’s horrible to realize that the survivors were waiting in fear at the PAHS from 1.30 to 7.30 without police protection, when the water police could have docked and helped them.
Mary: In the context of Beattie’s overall “J’accuse,” it seems a bit funny even to say “police protection,” if you know what I mean.
Book: Sure, this was a day for police treachery to a staggering degree, but a few officers came out clean, I think. Stewart reckons the naïve remarks made by Luppo Prins shows that he was not in the loop or “in on the joke.” Also, the fact that Superintendent Barry Bennett got elbowed out of the command by Richard McCreadie (who had less seniority) tells you that Bennett was not expected to be a “team player.”
Mary: Indeed Bennett suffered later. But I wish to opine that McCreadie, if he did “team-play” throughout the day, is also likely to have suffered. Twenty years’ worth of carrying burdens and living in semi-anticipation of being outed can’t be pleasant.
Book: I suppose you have a point.
Mary: That reminds me. You have a lengthy “transcript” of an interview conducted at Risdon Prison in October between Bryant and Avery. Martin says he likes Paul Mullen (!) but not Dr Ian Sale. He says Sale visited him in prison twice. But Sale worked for the Prosecution not the Defense.
Book: Martin also said in that interview that he was doing drawings for therapy. So the Gumshoe’s editor was right on that.
Mary: Gumshoe’s editor has a tendency to be right. I’ll quote below some stunning comments from that prison visit.
Book: Sure. Might as well toss “client confidentiality” to the winds. At this point any new data could only help Martin.
Mary: When next you see Stewart, please tell him I was so pleased by his quoting Livy: “Treachery, though at first very cautious, in the end betrays itself.” I mean I was pleased that he would quote Livy at all. I don’t think I have ever seen anyone do that.
Book: Was he the one who said “Romani, ite domum”?
Mary: No, I think that was John Cleese.
Book: What about Stewart’s quote from Dryden:
“Errors like straws, upon the surface flow,
He who would search for pearls must dive below.”
Mary: That’s an absolutely fair description of the depth of research that Beattie treats as standard. I have rarely encountered such a tenacious investigator.
Book: He and Andrew MacGregor walked the walk. They actually retraced the steps of the massacre with the aid of a local, measuring distances among the six crime scenes, the views from Arthur Highway, and so forth.
Mary: You know, Book, reading you has been an enlightening experience. I had Emily Poulsson’s little verse drummed into me when I was in Girl Scouts:
Books are keys to wisdom’s treasure,
[Think about it!]
Books are gates to lands of pleasure,
Books are paths that upward lead,
Books are Friends. Come let us read.
Book: I like it. I like it. Now how about going to the end of A Gunsmith’s Notebook to pick out a few choice morsels from the interchange between Martin Bryant and lawyer John Avery.
Mary: Thank you, Book. Morsels it is then, and on a later date Gumshoe will run the entire prison transcript, which I must say is the most amazing thing I have seen yet on this case.
John Avery did NOT bully Bryant but rather cozied up to him as a mate and utterly deceived him about the law.
The following was said just after Avery told Martin he would be willing to act as his new lawyer. On September 30, at his committal hearing, Martin had pleaded Not Guilty. His lawyer David Gunson, SC, was then taken off the case as it was not acceptable to the Powers That Be for Martin to have a trial. The date of this prison interview is October, 1996:
Bryant: Okay, will there still be a case. I mean will there still be a trial?
Avery: Well, we’ll talk about a trial or what we’re going to do in a moment, right. Now the next thing is do you understand legally why Mr. Gunson can’t act for you anymore?
Bryant: I think because there’s no defence.
Avery: Well, it’s not really that. Let me just explain something to you …Let’s use a simple example. There’s a fight in a pub and someone punches another person and he is charged with assault of that person. If that person goes to a Lawyer and says yes, I punched him but I’m going to go to Court and say I didn’t do it, it puts the Lawyer in a position of conflict because he can’t allow his client to go to Court and lie.
Bryant: Oh yes.
Avery: Right, now David Gunson I gather has found himself in an ethical problem because of what you have told him and what you want to do now, right.
Comment from the Gumshoe Team
Can you imagine a more subtle way to tell Martin Bryant that he mustn’t make that mistake again – telling the Court he is innocent, as that will cause the lawyer to be removed from the case.
Hello? Is Australia listening? Don’t worry that twenty years have gone by. We will fix this up. Yes we will.
— Mary W Maxwell hangs around the State Library of SA. To make an appointment to view her private copy of “A Gunsmith’s Notebook for Port Arthur” please contact her at maryWmaxwell.com.
Portrait above: We would like to know who the artist is, so we can credit him/her