by Mary W Maxwell, PhD, LLB
Seventy-two counts of crime were laid on 29-year-old intellectually handicapped Martin Bryant despite the authorities knowing that he did not commit those crimes (and knowing who did commit them).
So who did commit them? Hmm. I’d better peek into my wallet and see if I can afford to be sued for libel.
Defamation in Oz is divided into: slander if it is spoken, or libel if it is published (including electronically, of course). One way to commit libel is to accuse someone of a crime. If I lost, I would have to pay up to $250, 000 and the other side’s “costs.”
Thus, instead of claiming here that anyone has acted criminally, I’ll ask each of 15 persons to come forward and explain what they were doing. I’ll make REQUESTS for information.
This article leans on speculations made by citizens, especially: Andrew Macgregor’s Deceit and Terrorism, Stewart Beattie’s A Gunsmith’s Notebook, Carl Wernerhoff’s What’s Going On? — plus various lectures and Youtube videos. (Note: Wendy Scurr’s video has got 160,000 views.)
Below, I won’t tie my ideas to each of the respective authors. The new generation of writers about the 1996 massacre includes myself and Dee McLachlan as authors of Port Arthur: Enough Is Enough. We didn’t have to do much field research, as we stood on the shoulders of giants.
- Who Did the First Crime of the Day: the Killing of Sally and David Martin?
Damian Bugg, QC, said, as part of the Crown case, that Martin Bryant visited the Seascape B&B around 11am on April 28, 1996, in order to murder the elderly couple that own that B&B, namely Sally and David Martin.
Bugg said, as though it were the Gospel truth, that Bryant had packed all the needful in his car when he left his house — a hunting knife, handcuffs, guns, and petrol to light a fire. (Very prescient, especially the handcuffs!)
Oops, Bryant forgot to write a suicide note. The arson activity was to have included self-immolation, right? We all know he was very much inside Seascape when it began to burn on the morning of April 29.
Oops, the DPP says Bryant burned Seascape and in the process burned his one and only hostage, Glen Pears.
But on the negotiator tape, Bryant (codenamed “Jamie”) says he is holding three hostages: a man – whom the DPP thinks is Glen Pears – and the two Martins.
Oops, the DPP has already said the Martins were killed by the disgruntled Bryant before noon.
So who really killed Sally and David Martin? I don’t agree that it was done in the morning. More likely it was done the night before. There was so much that had to happen on the Sunday (April 28) at four locations, that I feel sure they would have been practical to remove the Seascape’s owners in advance.
Granted, four people said that they stayed at Seascape Saturday night as guests and chatted with the owners. That means they are lying, if my theory is correct.
Two of the four Saturday-night guests made a police statement. (But they live in Hobart so why pay for a motel 1.5 hours drive away?) Another two are mentioned as being “two sisters from Sydney.” One researcher proposes that the sisters are Lynne Beavis and Jean Andrews of Melbourne.
Lynne put in a worker’s compo claim for the trauma she suffered on Sunday at the PAHS. She reportedly got a huge payout. But her employer was the Commonwealth Bank, and she was on holiday, so how could her injury have been work-related?
My first REQUEST in this article is: Would Lynne Beavis please show receipts for her stay in any Tasmanian hotel or B&B on 27 April? Most people pay with credit card, so her bank may have a record.
- Who Helped the Yellow Volvo Make Its Way to Port Arthur?
For most of us in Oz who saw the event on TV or in newspapers, the drama began not at Seascape but at the touristy “Port Arthur Historic Site” (the old convict prison), which I will abbreviate as the PAHS.
The shooting action on Sunday began in the Broad Arrow Café, within the PAHS. The gunman was a man other than Bryant. So let’s ask: how is it possible that Bryant’s car made an appearance there?
I assume Bryant’s story of his own whereabouts is correct. He said he left his home at 11am, had a surf at Roaring Beach, featuring his birthday suit, waited 10 minutes in the sun to dry off because he forgot a towel, stopped at Nubeena for lunch, visited Roger Larner at 1.05pm (all this in his Volvo; Roger saw him in the Volvo).
Bryant told police that, after visiting Larner, he abandoned the yellow Volvo and carjacked a BMW – including its owner — and then went to Seascape in that BMW. Most researchers think he was only fantasizing about that. I think he really did it (maybe prompted by a “trainer”).
It is undisputed that a man in a yellow Volvo pulled up to the Broad Arrow Café some time around 1pm. So, was that car the Bryant car?
The gunman who was driving it must have got it somewhere. It looks like there are three possibilities:
One, Bryant did do the carjack thing, as he claimed. (He abandoned his Volvo, letting the wife and child of his carjackee have it, and took the carjakee with him — in the boot of this BMW.)
(Note: if the carjack caper really happened, the wife of the carjackee could have been the person who delivered the yellow Volvo to the gunman. It’s a bit of a stretch, but…)
Two, Bryant merely parked his Volvo somewhere and it was grabbed by someone who flashed it down to PAHS.
Three, there was more than one Volvo, some call the second one “a Volvo clone.” Very CIA, right?
In his Sunday evening chats with the negotiator, Bryant gave hints that the person he carjacked was Michael Dyson, the head of the SOG (Special Operations Group of police) in Hobart.
In his July 4, 1996 police interview, Bryant couldn’t remember if the child in that car was a boy or girl. Today that child must be about 22 years old. There’s no hope of asking him or her to recollect the alleged event, but I now put a REQUEST to the mother of the child. Where did the carjacking take place and why didn’t you report it to police?
Note: many researchers think Michael “Mick” Dyson was the man whom Jamie referred to as “Rick.” Throughout the siege at Seascape cottage Jamie indicated that Rick was right there with him.
To put it the language of the Lindt Café Inquest, the hostage-taker in the stronghold held Rick hostage. (Something to think about: a hostage can be the designer of the incident.)
I think there is excellent circumstantial evidence for Mr Dyson being in Seascape the whole time, insofar as he played no public role at all that day, despite holding high office in the SOG.
Note: It has been pointed out that whether it was Dyson or someone else, the person could have departed the scene before sunrise by using a boat at the back of Seascape (a property that’s not called “Sea-scape” for nothing).
So my second REQUEST for this section is directed at Michael “Mick” Dyson, who now owns a private security firm in Hobart: Sir, where were you on Tasmania’s darkest day? Did you have any official SOG duties?
- Was the Venue for the Massacre To Have Been a Boat?
There is absolutely no doubt that a man stood up in the café around 1.30pm with a self-loading rifle (holding it at his hip) and shot more than 20 people. Most of them died instantly. There were about 60 tourists and PAHS staff members in the café.
I’d like to ask questions of two people. First, the PAHS parking lot attendant Ian Kingston. He says he saw the blond-haired man in the yellow Volvo enter the parking lot after 1.15pm (though people in the café said the man was buying his lunch earlier than that).
Mr Kingston blurted out that day that the planned venue for the gunman could have been the boat tour to the Isle of the Dead. No doubt Kingston was told that, but by whom? My guess is ASIO. This certainly raises the question: what the bejeezus is ASIO? (The letters stand for Australian Security and Intelligence Organization).
So I want to REQUEST Ian Kingston to tell where he got the idea about the boat tour, and I’d like to REQUEST the head of ASIO to explain the famous words of Anthony Nightingale that day. Nightingale is considered to have been an ASIO operative, although his day job was in the Commonwealth Bank.
When the gunman started shooting, Anthony stood up and said “No, not here!” The implication is that he expected the shooting to take place elsewhere. We can’t ask any questions of Nightingale himself, as he was immediately shot dead.
(Personally I think the boat thing was never the actual plan. I think the day’s events were intended to kill quite a few ASIO people — giving whole new meaning to the phrase “inside job.”)
There is gossip that the water police sent their boat speeding toward Port Arthur. So I’d also like to REQUEST the Tasmanian police chief Jack Johnson to state whether or not he dispatched the boat and then cancelled it mid-task, turning the boat around.
There’s no point having the boat-rumor lingering after two decades when it could be dealt with up front, agree?
So far, then, the 6 persons to whom I address questions are; Lynne Beavis, the mother of the carjackee, Michael Dyson, Ian Kingston, the head of ASIO, and Jack Johnson.
By the way, if Beavis comes forward with the receipts for a motel, she can also be asked if it were she who hid a yellow Volvo behind a building at PAHS, as is alleged by one major researcher.
Note: the source of much research is the publicly available police statements made by persons such as Lynne.
- Who Was the Gunman in the Café?
There has never been a police investigation of who the shooter was. Could this be because it’s a secret? I think it likely that police held back on any speculation as to what the shooting was about, so that the media could take over and tell everyone it had to be crazy-boy Bryant.
Last year a researcher (myself) suggested that the shooter was an SAS man named David Everett. I have since changed my mind. But undoubtedly the man at Broad Arrow had SAS-type shooting skills. An Australian army brigadier general, Ted Serong, said the shooter’s skills qualified as among the best 10 or 20 in the world. Wow.
The only name I have seen put forward as the shooter is that of a young man, Benjamin Overbeeke of Adelaide, who (it is said) died months later of suicide. His father Hans Overbeeke gave a police statement that he and his two sons were near the Broad Arrow Café at the time.
So naturally I put a REQUEST to Hans, the father. Is it true that your son Benjamin has died? I’m sorry for your loss. Please tell me what role he played on 28 April. And also, since you are believed to have manned the only phone at the Café after the shooting stopped, taking details from all the survivors, who urged you to do that?
Another person said to have some involvement that day was the Israeli spy Ari Ben-Menashe. I have to mention that Ari did me a big personal favor in Montreal in January 2011. (The particulars could be water-boarded out of me I suppose, but they are completely unrelated to Port Arthur.)
There is a well-known photo of Ben-Menashe, standing outside the Broad Arrow. I make this REQUEST: Ari, what were you doing there that day? And who is your real employer?
Also, there is pictorial evidence that a Commonwealth black van with tinted windows arrived at the PAHS grounds and stayed in place for two hours. The rumor is that the license plates reveal it to be an SAS van. So I make this REQUEST to the head of the SAS: Was an SAS van at PAHS on April 28, 1996, and if so for what purpose?
- What Happened at the Tollbooth?
After killing many people in the café, and a few more out in the parking lot, the gunman got into “his” yellow Volvo and drove up to the place where everyone entering the PAHS pays the fee; it’s called the Tollbooth.
At that location the gunman did two things. He killed the four occupants of a BMW by shooting them at close range, and he drove away in that BMW. The four people were: a couple — Helena and Robert Salzmann — Jim Pollard, and Mary Nixon. All seem to have been working for ASIO.
Mary Nixon’s husband said that he stayed home that day (in Tasmania) while Mary allegedly took friends to see the touristy Port Arthur. It is not known why they were just sitting in a car at the tollbooth. My guess: they were told to arrange a swap of the two cars as soon as the gunman arrived.
Certainly they were not expecting to die. I am a widow and I “relate” to all widows and widowers. It is a devastating experience to lose one’s other half. My REQUEST here is to Mary Nixon’s widower. Mr Nixon, do you think ASIO did the job?
Note: There are rules about not revealing any ASIO information “for national security reasons,” but the Port Arthur massacre was not a foreign attack. Also, no legislation can ever be valid if its purpose is to make it a crime to reveal crime.
- What Happened at the General Store?
The gunman drove across the street from the tollbooth to the Port Arthur General Store that was owned by the late Jim Laycock. Right at that moment a car was coming out of the driveway – a while Corolla – and the gunman deliberately blocked it.
He then got out of his BMW, ordered the driver (Glen Pears) to get out and get into the boot of the BMW. Then the gunman shot dead the Corolla’s passenger, Zoe Hall, who seems to have been the girlfriend of Pears.
The man-in-boot, Glen Pears, was called a “hostage” later that day, which allowed the Seascape incident to qualify as a terrorism scene. It is said, but is not proven, that Glen died at Seascape.
I tend to think Glen was a covert agent, based on the fact that he showed up at the General Sore exactly when the gunman needed to acquire a hostage. It also sounds weird that he would humbly obey Bryant by climbing into the boot. Men protect their women.
I definitely do not believe the part of the story, stated in the Crown case against Bryant, that at Seascape Bryant handcuffed the man and took him into Seascape. It is preposterous. The hostage would kick him in the balls (sorry). And there were never any handcuffs found, despite Bugg speaking about them as if they existed.
I actually doubt that Glen Pears died. I hate Youtube videos that say “no one died,” but only a charred body was found and it could have been anybody’s.
Note: solicitor John Avery said, in his published October 11, 1996 talk with his client, Martin Bryant, that the brother of Glen showed up at one of Bryant’s hearings and called him a coward. While that may be a very appropriate reaction for a real brother, it also sounds like part of the PR work to demonize Bryant.
It is my REQUEST to the bereaved family of Zoe Hall that they give us some information as to her involvement with Glen Pears. She was only 26.
- What Happened on the Verge?
You would think that the gunman had “had enough” and would wish to escape to his place of rest at Seascape (where he reportedly did arrive around 2pm). But he stopped on the highway’s verge, near the driveway into Seascape, and got out of his car to shoot at cars driving by. This was clocked at 1.52pm, by witnesses.
He shot at four cars, causing injuries but no deaths. One of the cars was driven by a member of the Canadian embassy staff in Canberra, Simon Williams. His wife Susan was injured, causing her finger to be amputated.
One researcher thinks the Canadians were sent there to have this done to them (unbeknownst to them of course) in order to stir up the media back home in Canada, to support gun control. I find this very plausible.
There may be diplomatic restrictions on asking ambassadorial personnel to give evidence, so I now REQUEST the family or friends of that staffer’s wife to tell what they know. How did she and her husband choose that very day to go to PA?
- What Happened on Sunday Afternoon at Seascape?
Now we can draw our attention away from “the gunman” — the unidentified guy who had done 32 fatal shootings up to that point.
(The total list of 35, as shown on the PA memorial stone, include Sally and David Martin, who I said were likely killed on Saturday, and Glen Pears who conceivably is still alive.)
So around 2pm we agree that Martin Bryant is inside Seascape — but not that he has just arrived from PAHS — he never went there. Nor did Bryant do those car-targeting shots from the verge. Probably the real Bryant entered Seascape before 1.30; this would accord with the elderly Roger Larner’s witness statement.
New action started around 2.15pm outside of Seascape. An SOG officer, Andrew Fogarty showed up from a suburb of Hobart.
He arrived at a speed that is impossible for anyone to do, as the trip takes 1.3 hours in good conditions. As the news of the Broad Arrow killings was not transmitted before 1.35pm, Fogarty’s earliest time to appear at Seascape should have been 2.55. His magical arrival indicates prior knowledge, does it not?
One of the researchers says that around 2.15pm Fogarty “grenaded” the BMW that was parked on the grass at Seascape cottage. This makes sense, as it is uncontended that the car “exploded” at that time. So my REQUEST is put to Andrew Fogarty: Was it you who caused the BMW to explode?
Starting at 3.30pm, a man inside Seascape, using the name “Jamie,” talked intermittently by phone to the police negotiator in Hobart, Sgt Terry McCarthy. Some doubt that Jamie was Bryant. I believe it was Bryant.
I have learned a bit about “Contain and Negotiate” in NSW. In Tasmania I presume it was Terry McCarthy’s job to prevent Bryant killing any people inside Seascape. The hostages named by Jamie on Sunday evening were: David Martin, Sally Martin, and “Rick.”
It’s my guess that Bryant had been trained to carry out a sort of “drill” with police (probably policeman “Rick”) on a date prior to April. When listening to the tape of the negotiations, one gets the feeling that the hostage-taker is very relaxed and feels warm toward Rick – totally inappropriate in the circumstances!
I’d like to address Sgt Terry McCarthy. Sergeant, your side of the conversation sounds just as phony as Jamie’s. Other than talking to him about arranging for him to escape by helicopter, you haven’t asked him anything about the hostages. I REQUEST you to tell: Did you suspect who Rick really was?
- What Happened Monday Morning at Seascape?
The “negotiating” conversations ended at 9.30pm and not much happened after that, until morning. Around 7.30am on Monday, the Fire Department was put on alert. This was premature. There was no reason to think anyone was going to burn a house down. (Was there?)
At about 8.12am it became apparent that Seascape was on fire. It was “officially” believed that there were three hostages inside, but no effort was made to rescue them from fire. Amazing.
At around 8.24am Martin Bryant (not to be confused with the “Port Arthur gunman”) came staggering out. He removed his clothes, which were on fire. He then sank onto the grass and was arrested. He was handcuffed with his hands behind his back, and put in an ambulance.
My REQUEST to police Superintendent Bob Fielding is: What’s with the calling of a fire department before there was any indication of fire or any plan to commit arson?
I have put REQUESTS to 15 persons as follows:
- Lynne Beavis: May we see receipts for your Saturday hotel?
- Mother of child: Where did the carjacking take place?
- Mick Dyson: Why weren’t you seen on SOG duty that day?
- Ian Kingston: How did you hear of the boat plan?
- Head of ASIO: Why did Nightingale say “No, not here”?
- Jack Johnson: Were the water police dispatched to PA?
- Hans Overbeeke: What role did Benjamin play at PA?
- Ari Ben-Menashe: Why were you at the Broad Arrow Café?
- Head of SAS: Did you send a van to PAHS? If so, why?
- Mr Nixon: Do you think ASIO killed your wife Mary?
- Hall family: How do you interpret the death of Zoe?
- Susan Williams’ friends: Why was she in TAS that day?
- Andrew Fogarty: Did you make the BMW explode?
- Terry McCarthy: Why didn’t you ask questions about Rick?
- Bob Fielding: Why were firemen on alert before 8am?
Omnia Presumunter Contra Spoliatorem
There is a maxim in law about the destruction of evidence: “Everything can be presumed against the one who destroys evidence.” Let me adapt it for this occasion:
“If the persons whom I have requested to answer simple questions refuse to do so, I will presume that the answers would be unfavorable to them.”
Note: that does not hold for the families of Mary or Zoe, or the friends of Susan, as they could not have had any sinister role to play. I do suspect the other 12 persons of actions that they would naturally not want to admit to. Omnia presumunter contra spoliatorem.
Postscript: It seems to me that guilty parties, regarding both the massacre and the false accusation of Bryant, must have endured the last two decades in a state of some anxiety.
From the very beginning there were protestors among the citizenry (and I’ll bet among cops, too.) They were silenced with the might of the State. But, as Shakespeare said in The Merchant of Venice:
“truth will come to light; murder cannot be hid long; … at the length truth will out.”
Moreover, everybody knows that truth will out.
— Mary Maxwell can be contacted at her website maryWmaxwell.com, or at mary.maxwell @ alumni. Adelaide.edu.au. She would especially appreciate any corrections.
Photo Credit: southeastasianews.org