Martin and John, 20 years after the offending interview
by Mary W Maxwell
Two months ago, Gumshoe published a 1996 interview that took place just as John Avery was taking over from David Gunson as attorney on the Port Arthur case. That article was aptly entitled “Every Aussie Lawyer Needs To Attend to the Gross Injustice of this Interview.”
On that occasion, John Avery clearly tried to suppress Bryant’s desire for a trial. But today we publish another chat between Bryant and Avery — with a very different tone. Here the prisoner cooperates with Avery in discussing how to tell the Court that he now remembers killing all those people!
As this is the third time Gumshoe readers have seen Bryant talking about the April 28, 1996 massacre, let me enumerate:
First, the Mike Willessee show this year surprised everyone by showing a supposedly lost or unusable video in which Bryant sits in front of a blue curtain being questioned by the police.
Martin answered all the police’s questions consistently. He eagerly described his handling of guns. He recalled his itinerary of April 28, which included surfing at Roaring Beach and dropping by Seascape but finding no one home. Gumshoe published a large portion of that July 4, 1996 police interview.
Second, I learned that in 2006 The Bulletin had – as a “tenth anniversary of Port Arthur” reminder — published, unethically, the chat that took place when Solicitor Avery was “deciding” whether to “accept” Martin as a client.
(That’s the “gross injustice” interview.) I had no qualms about presenting it to the public, contra the man’s right to privacy, as it needs to be studied.
Third, I read in Stewart Beattie’s A Gunsmith’s Notebook, that there was a subsequent “consultation” between Avery and Martin. It is shown below, unabridged. It took place only eight days after the gross-injustice interview. Avery visits Bryant at Risdon and at this point Bryant appears to be almost a “new man.”
Bryant has come around to the idea that he did it, even saying it was thrilling, and amazes us all by saying that he and Glen Pears had talked all night at Seascape. Martin confesses that he killed Glen at about 6am Monday. Note: Beattie points out that there was never a report of the sound of a gun at 6am.
Please read this chat, dated October 11, 1996, with the possibility in mind that a team of doctors put Bryant under hypnosis and fed him some “new memories.” Recall from “the fodder note” that being drugged and hypnotized was nothing new for Martin.
MB (Martin Bryant): I did do some drawings. Are they large enough do you think?
JWA (John W Avery): Well let’s have a look. Right, so what’s this one?
MB: There’s the … at Dunalley
MB: And that’s where I did my target shooting usually between Murdunna and Eaglehawk Neck
JWA: Right, right.
MB: I found that important. Well, this is more important isn’t it, where the Martins, where the Seascape Guest House is
JWA: Right, so this is the Seascape Guest House here
MB: Yep, that’s the top, that’s where Pears was, there
MB: The Police allege that I was shooting out at them, I can’t recall
JWA: Doing that
MB: No, no not at all
JWA: Right, okay, the Fox and Hounds
MB: The Fox and Hounds, that’s the car that was parked near the main house, the Seascape Guest House and there’s the two smaller houses on the property
JWA: Right, so this is just an exploded version of this, is it?
MB: Yep, and that’s the Martins. That’s where I shot them, on the bed.
JWA: Right, right, okay, well that’s fine, and this is the…
MB: Are they big enough?
JWA: Yep, yep, no they’re fine
MB: And another thing, I don’t know how…the recording was last time but I said something about a bus, I remember shooting people around the bus but I don’t recall going on the bus
JWA: You don’t recall going on the bus? Alright so, okay…
MB: And I recall um shooting people in the cafeteria but I don’t recall injuring anyone at all
JWA: Right, alright.
MB: I recall them dying
JWA: Alright, okay, well that’s fine. Well, I’ll take those with me. Just to bring you up to date mate, I’m going to Melbourne to have a talk with Paul Mullen, remember Professor Mullen
MB: Oh yeah, you haven’t been yet?
MB: I thought you were going on Wednesday
JWA: No, I’m going next Wednesday
MB: Oh yeah, next Wednesday
JWA: To see him and Ian Joblin
MB: Yeah, he’s a lovely person
JWA: You got on alright with him?
JWA: I think they may want to see you again, so I’ll have a talk to the Trustees about that
MB: Oh good
JWA: You’re happy to see them again?
MB: Oh yes
JWA: And basically tell them what you’ve told me
JWA: Alright, well we’ll see if we can sort that out. You asked me about Julian
MB: Knight, yes
JWA: I understand he pleaded guilty to those charges, right
JWA: What else to bring you up to date. I’m going to see the Director of Public Prosecutions next Thursday to discuss matters with him, so I’ll come and see you next Thursday after I’ve done … and after I’ve been to the Crown, alright!
MB: Yeah, oh good.
JWA: So that will just bring things up to date
MB: That’s Damien Bugg isn’t it?
JWA: Yes, the Director of Public Prosecutions is Damien Bugg
MB: Yeah, yeah. I saw Damien Bugg on the day I went to Court.
JWA: Right, yeah, so that’s really about where we’re at at the moment
JWA: I did try and contact your Mum but I just got an answering machine
MB: Yeah, she’s got an answering machine
JWA: So, I’ve left a message for her to give me a hoy sometime, if she wants to, or whether she will
MB: She put an answering machine on since the incident
MB: So … the reporters
JWA: Right, she was getting hassled was she
JWA: Not any more
MB: So you talked to them
JWA: I spoke to them and there hasn’t been a problem since
MB: Are they down there now?
MB: I think they were there last week for a few days
JWA: They were I think the second time I saw you, or the first time, but no, they’re not anymore, so there’s no…
MB: Oh, I suppose they’ll show in Court, show the guns and things like that
JWA: Well, I mean obviously that’s part of the evidence you know, they they will have to go through. What … what’s your current feeling as to how you want to plead? Have you given any further thought to that in recent times?
MB: I don’t really know. Can I still plead not guilty?
JWA: Well, you can, but I mean given what you’ve told me, the reality is …
MB: On some charges I can plead guilty to and some not, am I allowed to do that?
JWA: Well you can plead to some and not guilty to others. What sort of ones do you think that you might want to plead not guilty to?
MB: To the ones, to the injured
JWA: The injured people
MB: ‘Cos they’re the ones …(indecipherable)
JWA: Right, right.
MB: I don’t recall. All I can recall is people sitting down in the cafeteria
JWA: Just keep your voice up mate
MB: I don’t recall anyone running out
MB: Just the people that I’ve shot, sitting down
MB: And they all just died
JWA: Right, right
MB: I don’t recall anyone …
JWA: So what you’re saying, you accept that you killed people but you don’t think you injured, or you don’t remember injuring people?
MB: I don’t remember injuring
JWA: Other than the ones that you killed
MB: That’s right.
JWA: Yeah. Alright, well we don’t have to worry about that at the moment.
JWA: As I say, it’s just a matter of just taking it step by step
JWA: The other thing I just wanted to ask you, I think I did talk to you last time about this. How long do you think looking back in your mind now, you’d been planning this?
MB: Oh, about 1-2 years
JWA: 1-2 years. Had you ever sort of had a dummy run before or almost got to doing it before?
MB: No never
MB: Its only been past … or since after Christmas this year
JWA: Right, that you seriously thought about it or seriously started thinking about it?
JWA: What did you think you were going to get out of it. I mean you must have known you were going to get caught.
MB: Oh, just going out and killing people
JWA: Yeah, but I mean when you thought you wanted to do that did you also think well I know I’ll get caught or did you think you’d get killed or what did you think?
MB: I thought I’d either get caught or get killed and I thought killing the Martins
JWA: Just a bit louder
MB: I thought that if I killed the Martins I would go to jail for life, right.
MB: And I thought, well if I kill a lot of people it really won’t make much of a difference
JWA: In other words if you kill 10, its not much difference as far as the time in jail to killing one person
MB: That’s right
JWA: Hm. What was the motivating thing though to kill anyone. Just looking back, I mean was it for pleasure?
MB: I just wanted to kill the Martins because I didn’t like them … When I was a child they gave me a bad time
JWA: Yeah. So it was the Martins that you really wanted to get!
JWA: The others….
MB: I hated them
JWA: Right, you hated them. Was there anyone else you hated?
MB: No, no-one. No-one’s been bad to me, just … mainly Mrs Martin that I wanted to kill but I thought I’d kill Mr. Martin while I was there
JWA: But you were conscious were you, when you were thinking of that and planning to do that, that you’d get caught? Or did you ever seriously think you’d get away with it?
MB: I thought they’d shoot me or I’d get caught and go to jail, either one
JWA: Yeah, so…
MB: At the time it wasn’t in my mind
JWA: Right, What are you going to do for the rest of your life here?
MB: I don’t really know. Just live day by day. I don’t know.
JWA: How are you occupying yourself at the moment?
MB: Drawings, sleeping
MB: That’s about it
JWA: Right, now you’ve done some drawings for me, did you enjoy doing that?
MB: Yeah, they’re good, yeah
JWA: So do you want me to get you some more, have you got plenty of …
MB: I’ve got plenty of paper
JWA: Well, alright, why don’t you keep doing some. Even if it’s only just therapy for you and you know do some bigger scale ones if you want to
MB: Right, of this?
JWA: Yeah, or anything
MB: Are they big enough?
JWA: Yeah, that’s fine but if you want to do bigger ones, why don’t you just do some of what you … of anything
MB: Yeah, do you ever do any scuba diving?
JWA: I don’t. I’ve got a few friends who do. I’ve got a watch, its a diver’s watch
MB: That’s an underwater one, I can tell
JWA: Yeah, but no I don’t. That’s obviously something that’s been pretty important to you
MB: Yeah, I used to do a lot of scuba diving
JWA: Remember when we spoke last time I asked you what you felt like when you were killing those people. Remember you said that it was…
JWA: Exciting, and …
JWA: And you likened it to driving your boat fast, and
MB: Scuba diving
JWA: Was that how it was?
MB: Yes, it was, truly exciting, really exciting
MB: The most exciting thing I’ve ever done in my life which was something different
MB: Just shooting the people.
JWA: And did it really just get out of hand. I mean, you obviously didn’t plan to shoot 30 people. When you decided you were going to shoot the Martins, how many people did you think after that or was there no thought process, just …
MB: Um, no thought … I don’t think it was a thought, no thought process. I just thought I’d go out and kill a lot of people
JWA: Did you physically know by the time you were back at Seascape how many people had been killed?
MB: Quite a few, but
MB: I thought I’d killed a dozen or so
JWA: So you thought you’d killed a dozen or so, yeah
MB: I didn’t think I’d killed 20
JWA: You didn’t
JWA: No, no. Do you want to tell me anything at the moment. I mean today’s just an easy day. I didn’t want to have to burden you with
MB: No …you’ll get on well with Professor Mullen
JWA: Right. How did you find the other fellow, Lucas?
MB: The one from Adelaide?
MB: Are you going over there?
JWA: No, I’m not going to see him, no
MB: He’s not worth seeing, he’s got a ….(indecipherable)
JWA: Has he
MB: I didn’t think he was much at all. I didn’t like him.
MB: He was a criminologist, I think
JWA: Was he
MB: I think that’s what you call him. I don’t think he was a Psychiatrist, just a …
MB: But Mr Joblin, he’s great, so’s Professor Mullen
MB: Great people to talk to
JWA: And you’d be happy to see them again
MB: Oh yes, anytime. Hm. But I don’t think much of Dr. Sale either
MB: Have you met Dr Sale?
JWA: Yes I know him, little fellow isn’t he
MB: Yeah, he works for the Prosecution. I don’t think he’s got his own private…
JWA: Oh, he’s in private practice but he does a lot of work for the Crown, so … but anyway Ian Joblin and Paul Mullen, you’re happy about them
MB: Yep, oh yeah. He came to see me twice actually, Dr. Sale
MB: He mentioned to me that I pointed to myself in that video interview
MB: He has this…(indecipherable) and I said what, did I do that, did I point to myself…(indecipherable) that was a ball’s up wasn’t it – what I had done then
JWA: Yeah, can’t be helped now, that’s water under the bridge
MB: Yeah, right, yeah
JWA: Well what we’ll work along is this. We’ll work along the basis that you’re probably going to have to plead guilty to the people you’ve killed, right. We’ll look at the other aspect later.
MB: What, to all them
JWA: Well, I mean realistically I think, but
JWA: So we haven’t got to make that decision today
JWA: Because I think you know as well as I do that I think you’re going to be convicted of that, don’t you
MB: (laughter) – yeah that’s right
JWA: And there’s no sort of sense us thinking we can pull rabbits out of the hat
MB: Will you actually, um, then make a statement in writing to that, or what happens?
JWA: Well, I mean it depends on which way we end up going right. If you were to plead guilty right, what happens there is the Crown still have to put a lot of evidence before the Court to tell the Court what happened. I mean we all know what happened, the world knows, but the Court has to be formally told that and what we would have to do then, you and I, is work out what I’d say on your behalf
JWA: Now you could tell the world through me whatever you want to about it or you could say like some people in this situation “I’m not going to say anything”
MB: What happens there?
JWA: Well I mean, the penalty is going to be very obvious
MB: It’ll take longer
JWA: Whatever we say right or don’t say but all I’m saying you might want the world to know what motivated you to do this or you may not. You may say well I want everyone to know. That’s something you’ve got to think on – whether you want me to tell all the world what you’ve told me. You may say no John that’s between you and me and you might say…
MB: But they’ll have to get witnesses to any injured … some of the injured victims
JWA: Yeah, I mean certainly if it gets to that they will have to call some witnesses. In fact, I’m going to talk to the Crown on Thursday as to that right
MB: And people on the bus ’cos I didn’t go on the bus. I don’t recall going on the bus and the bloke that lived that was shot through the neck -yeah I don’t believe any of that, that that actually occurred
JWA: But how would it, I mean if it didn’t occur clearly they must have got injured by someone mustn’t they
MB: They must have
JWA: And there wasn’t anyone but Martin Bryant walking around was there
JWA: So, you know, you’re the fellow in the long coat
MB: I’m not sorry now that I didn’t kill people
JWA: I know you’re not sorry, I’m not going to ask you if you’re sorry ‘cos I know you’re not are you?
MB: No. I’m in here and they’re looking after me well and, … they’re ear-wigging now
JWA: That can’t be helped
MB: That’s right
JWA: Look the last thing I’m ever going to say to you is are you sorry ‘cos I know you’re not, are you?
JWA: You’re not going to con me and say you’re sorry for what you did, are you
MB: No, I’m not
JWA: In fact, I suspect you’re pleased
MB: Um, I’m excited, yeah
JWA: Does it still give you some excitement as to what you did?
MB: Yeah, I don’t know. I might come out in Court and tell everyone what happened. I don’t know. I might be the best thing to do, mightn’t it?
JWA: We’ll worry about that later right. That’s something you and I have to work through, right. As to whether you say it or I say it on your behalf
MB: Exactly, it might upset the people more if I say it
JWA: Well it might. I mean it might be more diplomatic for me to tell the world what you want to say rather than see you smiling and grinning and you know …
MB: Yeah, I might let them know (laughter)
JWA: You might have someone jump over that glass cage to get you
MB: (laughter) I don’t think so, no. One bloke came up … I suppose you heard about one bloke stood up and said I’m a coward
JWA: That was Mr. Pears’ brother wasn’t it?
JWA: Pears’ brother
MB: Was he one of the …
JWA: He was the one who sang out at you
MB: Mr Pear’s brother – oh it was his brother was it?
JWA: Yes. You know Pears was the last guy you shot.
MB: Yes, was it him?
JWA: Yes, it was his brother
MB: Oh, I thought it might have been Mr. ? He was the first in the Broad Arrow and he gave a …(indecipherable)
JWA: About what time, just changing the subject, about what time would it have been when Mr Pears was shot. Would it have been after midnight. He was the last one you shot, wasn’t it?
MB: It would have been about 6 o’clock that morning.
JWA: Just before you set fire to it right
JWA: Right, so he was up all night with you
MB: He was up all night
JWA: What did you talk about. Did you talk to him much?
MB: Just … I don’t think he mentioned that he had any brothers or sisters, I don’t think
JWA: Did you tell him you were going to shoot him?
MB: No I didn’t say anything. I don’t even know where I shot him now
MB: ‘Cos there was a lot of ammunition
JWA: Alright, anything else you want to tell me today?
MB: No, I can’t think of anything else. What’s the weather like outside?
JWA: Pissing with rain
MB: Oh gosh! Have you still got your Mercedes?
MB: Yeah, its a white one isn’t it?
JWA: How did you know I had that?
MB: Oh, you used to drive around – I used to see you driving around in it
JWA: A little white sports one
MB: Yeah, and your wife had the station … van didn’t she?
JWA: Oh yes, that’s years ago
MB: I think it’s a Holden Station Wagon
JWA: Yeah, yeah. She remembers you up at Peter and Michael’s shop
JWA: The Greeks on the corner, there
MB: Peter always used to have children. They used to become … his wife always used to have children, always look down and say\
JWA: All girls
MB: All girls
JWA: That’s right yes. Yeah, they’ve just come back from a holiday. They went to Queensland.
MB: Oh, right.
JWA: I’ll give him your regards
MB: Oh good. Okay then
JWA: Okay, well let’s leave it at that. You keep on with the drawings. Anything you want to do, right!
JWA: Because I’m sure that well even if its only for therapy, they’re useful. I’ll find it useful
MB: I know
JWA: And I’ll be back here next Thursday afternoon
JWA: And I’ll see Professor Mullen and Ian Joblin and I’ll have a talk to you then, about them, and also about witnesses and this sort of thing
JWA: Okay, keep your chin up mate I’ll see you then alright.
[All emphasis added]
Photo credits: Martin Bryant -- cdn.newsapi.com.au John Avery -- abc.net.au