Do you want Martin to do another 20 years in the cages?
by Mary W Maxwell, PhD, LLB
Our book, Port Arthur: Enough Is Enough is a free download at Gumshoe News. Its addendum contains a printout of the police interview of Martin Bryant dated July 4, 1996. The video of this was shown on TV Channel 7 on March 6, 2016, hosted by Mike Willessee. It had “disappeared” 20 years ago. In it we see Martin clearly stating that he was not at Broad Arrow Café.
Despite that, he was not given a trial. He was pushed into a guilty plea. You will see in the interview below how his lawyer, 5 months after the massacre, used tricks in interpreting the law to his client. Put yourself in Bryant’s shoes and see how he was trying to find out how to defend himself.
The following is the second of three interviews between Martin Bryant (MB) and his lawyer John W Avery (JWA), in Risdon Prison Hospital, dated October 3, 1996. I found it in Stewart Beattie’s book, A Gunsmith’s Notebook. It had been published in The Bulletin, 4 April, 2006.
I abridged it (with “…..”) to the tune of leaving two-thirds of the original. I have bolded “the worst bits.” Gumshoe website has introduced many reasons why Bryant should be acquitted, pardoned, given a trial, whatever. But if you peruse this document you will see that nothing else is needed. He was outrageously conned into missing a trial.
Please oh please show it to anyone you know who will have enough righteous indignation to go to town on the authorities until they open the prison gates.
MB: As long as you’re not working for the Police. I turned around and said to David [Gunson] one day “Are you working for the Police, David” and he said “No, no, I’m working for you, Martin”.
JWA: Well there is no way we’re working for the Police, I can tell you that, right. Okay, let’s just talk about what I am here for, right. I have reviewed your case since we spoke last Tuesday and I now know as much as I need to know about it.
JWA: Now having done all that, I have formed the view that I am prepared to act for you subject to a few limits, or a few conditions, right. Now I want to go through those and see whether you’re content on that, right. First thing is that I think if you want me to act we’ve got to be frank with each other. I won’t bullshit you but equally there are no games that I want you to play, right. Understand that?
JWA: I will want to get from you, not today but in the next day or so, full instructions, right.
JWA: On the whole thing. And finally, I don’t want you to have any false expectations and I won’t give you any, right.
MB: Okay, yeah
JWA: Now within those broad parameters, do you want me to act for you?
MB: Yep, yeah, yeah
JWA: You’re happy about that, that we talk frankly with each other. I’ll do what I can for you but you’ve got to be frank with me, right.
MB: Okay, will there still be a case. I mean will there still be a trial?
JWA: Well, we’ll talk about a trial or what we’re going to do in a moment, right. Now for the next thing is do you understand legally why Mr. Gunson can’t act for you anymore?
MB: I think because there’s no defence (sic)
JWA: Well, it’s not really that. Let me just explain something to you in simple terms, right. If someone is charged with assaulting someone. 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.
MB: Oh yes
JWA: 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. Now I am telling you that because I am not going to ask you today what your instructions
are. We’ll go through that as length if not over the weekend then early next week and I’ll spend a couple of hours.
We’ll then decide where we go but I just want you to be aware of why if sometimes Lawyers get in an ethical problem that is how it happens. Generally it’s because the client tells them something and then wants to do something different, right. So that’s just explaining that to you. Now, having said that, if you want me to act I will do so
MB: Oh good
JWA: Now are there any parts of the evidence or anything like that that you haven’t seen or you want to see again. Let me just give you examples. There’s a video interview when you were interviewed in July that seemed to go all afternoon, remember that, it went forever.
MB: Oh yes. I was hoping my Lawyer was going to be there. The Police said that he was informed and there wasn’t any reason for him to be there.
JWA: Now, have you seen that interview?
MB: No, I haven’t.
JWA: Have you read the transcript of it?
MB: I have read the transcript, yes.
JWA: Right, well I think I should at some stage show you that interview, right, or parts of it. I am not going to spend 3 hours, it would just be like watching t.v. for 3 hours, but some parts of it I think you should see, right.
MB: I think I know the part … the part where I pointed to myself.
JWA: The part when you pointed to yourself and said “Me” right.
MB: That’s not going to help me.
JWA: Not going to help me – it is going to put you right under. But all I’m saying is if you want to, I can arrange in due course for you to see that….
JWA: Right, have you heard the negotiating tapes when you were on the phone?
MB: Yes. I couldn’t recall that that was my voice.
JWA: Well if you like I can bring them over sometime and play them on this recorder, right, and you can say yes that’s me or no, it’s not, right. Because there is a lot of information on those and a lot of indication that you wanted to go in a helicopter for a ride, all that sort of stuff, but if you want to we can play them for you. I don’t want you saying Oh, I’m not sure about that.
JWA: So okay, is there anything else that you want to see or read or look at that you think might be evidence against you?
MB: Not really, I can’t recall. I don’t really know.
JWA: Alright, okay. Let me just ask you something. One of the things that came out when I was reading the psychiatric material is what you used to do at school and what you liked doing. I think your best subject seemed to be art.
MB: Art, yes.
JWA: Do you want to do some? Do you want to do some about this? Do you want to do some drawings? How long since you’ve done any?
JWA: We can start, if nothing else, to piece this together even through some illustrations or something like that, right. I collect art so I could like you to sort of start
MB: Have you been in touch with Perpetual Trustees?
JWA: Yes, they’ve squared things off. They are content for me to act.
MB: Oh good.
JWA: So there is no problem with that. I have said to them that I will. Well, I’ve said that I will form a view on your case in the next couple of days and I will report to them and then
see where the whole thing is going. I mean let’s turn to your case. It’s pretty obvious that it all points to you being guilty, doesn’t it?
JWA: I mean let’s be frank, we can’t invent stories that you weren’t there or anything like that. If you follow the evidence through and you have read those statements, they have you at Seascape, they have you, it would appear, killing the Martins, leaving and going down to Port Arthur etc etc. Now all that seems to have come out, doesn’t it. I can’t magically say none of that happened. I can’t magically find a defence that you were in Hong Kong or somewhere else.
MB: Mm, that’s right.
JWA: And I repeat we’re going to look each other in the eye and I don’t want any stories or bullshit, right, because the time for that is over. We’ve got to look at where you’re heading with this and I want to put on the best front I can for you bit [but?] I’m not going to bullshit and say magically you’re going to be out of here in 6 months….
MB: Will it be a long, long time for someone what’s done
JWA: You’re not going to ever leave here mate I don’t think
MB: Art classes or whatever
JWA: That’s right, but all I want to confirm with you today is do you want me to act?
JWA: You’re going to be frank and not bullshit me?
MB: That’s true
JWA: And we’ll talk next week about whether you’re going to go trial or whether you’re going to plead guilty.
JWA: We don’t have to do that today. I’m not interested in that at the moment and I am not here to make you plead guilty, right.
MB: Uh uh
JWA: But I’m not here also to say we’re going to run a long trial just for the sake of a long trial, it doesn’t do you any good and it doesn’t do the broader community any good right. You’ve got to come out of this now with some respectability, right.
JWA: I’m probably the only friend you’ve got in the world so we’ve got to try and help each other.
MB: Is it true what David said that not many Lawyers will represent me?
JWA: Well I dunno, I don’t know about that but…..
JWA: But I repeat, I will do what I can to assist you but you’ve got to help me. Now are we clear on that? Can we strike a deal on that basis?
MB: I just want to hear all the evidence and what other people have got to say about me.
JWA: Oh we’ll talk that through. You’ve got the statements and we’ll go through that and…
MB: No, I mean in Court
JWA: Well, we’ll talk about that later and but I repeat if your defence is going to be that you weren’t there, then we are not going to run a trial on that if the overwhelming weight of evidence,
MB: I did go surfing that day, I did mention to David.
MB: I think it was that night. Sunday night the 28th.** A reporter just broke in and (took my photos) what, what they’ll do!
JWA: Well, you’re a big story, mate, you’re really important now.
MB: Yeah, mm.
JWA: I mean, Ivan Milat and these fellows are chicken feed.
MB: Yes, they’re tame aren’t they compared to what I’ve alleged to have …
JWA: What do you miss most of all?
MB: I miss my girlfriend and my Mum.
JWA: Has your Mum been to see you much
MB: Yeah, she comes in about every 3 weeks. Apart from that there’s no-one. It will be good when I’m allowed to mix with the other prisoners but that will be a long time probably.
JWA: The problem is your safety, isn’t it.
JWA: See the other prisoners might want to
MB: Get to me
JWA: Slit your throat
MB: (laughter) Yes
JWA: You’re a wanted man, see
MB: Hm, Hm
JWA: We’ll have to arrange for you to have a haircut won’t we?
MB: Yes but I can’t have a haircut until after the Court case
JWA: Who said that?
MB: I mentioned that to one of the officers
JWA: Alright, well let’s leave it at that today. You want me to act. I’ll act for you right. I’ll be back in a couple of days and we’ll have a couple of hours going through what happened, what you did, why you did it. Right and then we’ll talk about trials or what.
MB: Will that actually be a statement?
JWA: Well it will just be your instructions to me, right. I’m your Lawyer. I can’t pass it on to anyone. I won’t be saying what you said. It’s what you instruct me. Right. Lawyer’s discussions with clients are privileged right. They can’t go somewhere else and tell someone.
MB: I don’t know if I can recall (indecipherable) … or recall being down there. I can’t recall a lot of what occurred but we can talk about that.
JWA: Well we’ll see where we go alright but I mean the reality is you’ve certainly made lots of admissions to lots of people that it was you, “me”.
MB: Yeah, on the video.
MB: That was when they left the room and came back. I must have said something like that, but I don’t recall, honestly I don’t, but I don’t recall pointing at myself
JWA: Well, you did. I’ve looked at the video.
MB: Well that’s strong evidence, that’s more or less….
JWA: Admitting it. That is a total confession, that’s what that’s called.
MB: Will that go to trial?
JWA: If you have a trial, that’s the first bit of evidence they will put up and they will play that video and say here he is pointing to himself and saying “its me”.
MB: And then it would be over, would it, the trial?
JWA: Well it could be. I mean that’s the best bit of evidence they’ve got isn’t it, Martin Bryant pointing to himself and saying I’m the mass murderer. They don’t need much more do they.
JWA: Anyway, we don’t have to talk that through today. The purpose of today I repeat is to see whether you’re content with me as a Lawyer. To deal with it and that we are going to be frank with each other and not set any unreal expectations.
MB: No fear. If a person murders one person, I think they get about 21 years.
MB: Because Mr. B, do you know Mr. B?
JWA: I know Mr. B, yes and Mr. D.
MB: Well, they are trying to brain wash me to not having a trial.
JWA: Well, I am not going to try and brain wash you on anything. If you want to have a trial we’ll have a trial. All I am saying, we have to look at what a trial is going to be about and we’ve got to look at the inevitability at a trial that you will be found guilty.
MB: Would I be found guilty if I wasn’t on that video screen?
JWA: I would have thought there was enough evidence to convict you without that. Heaps and heaps of people saying you’re it, you were there, they’ve even got a photograph of you off the video walking round with a gun at Port Arthur shooting everyone. [There is no such video. — MM]
JWA: … by pleading guilty I suppose you are going to save a lot of people a lot of heartache and a lot of trauma, make your family feel you’ve done the right thing, make the community at least think you’re not a monster.
MB: A monster! They probably think I am now, I don’t know
JWA: I’m sure they do. I … you’re sort of
MB: An evil monster
JWA: An evil monster. You’re sort of like Hannibal Lecter except you don’t eat people.
MB: Yeah, but he went round stabbing … (indecipherable)
JWA: I’ve had people who have murdered a couple, yes.
MB: What happened to them, how long did they get?
JWA: They got life
MB: And what does that mean, that is a set time?
JWA: Well that equates in Australia and Tasmania to about 12 or 14 years, that’s just for one.
MB: Well we’ll just have to see how things can work out
JWA: …today wasn’t for that purpose and I repeat to see whether you’re comfortable with me acting and I am comfortable with you and I think we’ll shake on it. I’ll shake your hand and I say I’ll do my best for you and you’ll say that you’re not going to bullshit me and we’ll work it through together
MB: Yeah … that sounds cool
Note: The next interview was on October 11, 1996
Photo credit: Dee McLachlan