by Mary W Maxwell, PhD, LLB
Editor’s note: This was Part 11 of Bryant’s Anniversary Series.
It is wonderful to see that another court case in Tasmania is proceeding apace. That is the new appeal of convicted murderess Sue Neill-Fraser. Gumshoe is not going to put resources into that case, but it has provided me with a clue about Martin Bryant.
Of course there is plenty already to show that Bryant was a patsy and had nothing whatsoever to do with the massacre at the Broad Arrow Café on April 28, 1996. But I have just noticed something about the logic of “accomplices.”
During the siege at Seascape, which involved a hostage-taking, it was acknowledged by police that more than one gunman had appeared at a time. Someone was shooting from the roof of one of the other buildings at Seascape, while Martin was holed up in the cottage.
Also, as analyzed by Andrew MacGregor and Stewart Beattie, a person other than Bryant was doing some shooting right smack dab during a conversation between Bryant (playing the part of Jamie”) and police negotiator Terry McCarthy. Those sounds on the negotiation tape were called “coughs.” Can you imagine!
And, as reported in Gumshoe, constable PJ Allen said that he had to lie in a ditch in front of Seascape as many shots came his way, shots aimed not at reaching him but at holding him away from the cottage.
Note: “Seascape” was a B&B property on the waterfront that had a cottage and a few other building on it. Bryant’s “assistant gunmen” could have departed, unnoticed, by boat, at the back of the property.
The little “eureka” that this has just given me is as follows: When it is discovered that an accused did not act alone, every aspect of his participation must be called into question.
It would be different for every case, of course. One thinks of James Earl Ray’s supposed racist motivation to kill Martin Luther King. As soon as other gunmen were discovered – and they were – one could no longer interpret the shooting of King as something done by a man (Ray) who just had to get his personal racist emotions avenged.
I recommend that we look at the records of other “lone-gunmen” cases. If an accomplice is spotted, this will turn the thing around. People reported additional shooters in the Erfurt school shooting in Germany in 2002. and in the Virginia Tech shooting. Possibly it’s true also of Dunblane.
And soon as that be included in the narrative, anything that may have been proposed about the guy “going nuts” has to be discounted if not rejected entirely. No longer can we say the shooter was a disgruntled employee, a rejected lover, a jealous brother, a racist. What rejected lover is able to recruit a co-murderer?
(The case of the Erfurt shooter, by the way, was written up by media entirely on the basis of the boy having been unhappy at his school. Stewart Beattie, our very own gunsmith in the Bryant case, bothered to go to Germany and sorted that case out!)
To repeat, my Eureka (which is hardly original, but I never noticed it before) is: once evidence of an accomplice emerges, the “psychological” explanation for the lone shooter has to be given the heave-ho.
Bryant Had No Accomplice-Type Friends
In many cases where the gunman is of normal intelligence and normal social cleverness, it would be reasonable to look into the matter of his having a partner-in crime. Probably in many murders (even excluding hired hit-man cases) there is collusion.
But Martin Bryant’s history shows him to be unable to make friends. In fact it is a feature of his “psychiatric” record that he was not socially adept. Apparently also he lacked the IQ needed for making any complicated plan.
The Motive — A Grudge?
Note that his motive for (supposedly) killing 35 people on April 28, 1996 is that he had a grudge against the elderly couple who owned Seascape cottage, David and Sally Martin. At Bryant’s sentencing, we read these remarks by Justice William Cox:
The prisoner, it is clear, a lengthy period of time before the day on which it was carried into effect, formed the intention of causing the deaths of Mr and Mrs Martin against whom he had long harboured a grudge and at the very least of causing mayhem…. Indeed he seems to have contemplated mayhem of such a drastic kind that it would in all probability provoke a response which would result in his own death. [Emphasis added]
At this point, some student of human nature, or even a zoologist with an understanding of the life instinct should have interjected that a long-held grudge is not enough to make a person endanger his own life. We are too life-preserving to do such a thing. (Ever watch an injured bird struggle to survive?)
Note: the alleged grudge was not about Bryan’s Dad having been unable to buy Seascape. Rather the Dad, years ago, tried to buy a piece of farmland that the Martins also owned, but did not wish to sell. It really is preposterous to think this would make the young man perform huge acts of violence against an array of innocent people.
The judge continues:
In furtherance of his intention, he acquired high powered weapons and embarked with three of them, a very large supply of ammunition and accessories such as a sports bag to conceal the weapons, a hunting knife, two sets of handcuffs and rope. In addition he carried large quantities of petrol in containers, fire starters and acquired a cigarette lighter en route.
That, by the way, makes me think of Monis and the Lindt Café.
What kind of planning went into his “day at the siege”? Was he, in advance, planning to actually shoot people with his carried-in-a-Woolworth’s-bag shotgun? If he only intended it as a bluff, there was no need for it to be loaded.
I continue with words uttered by the judge at Bryant’s sentencing hearing:
[He] intended to arm himself with the means of igniting the petrol [that is, he bought the cigarette lighter — on the day!] and that this was intended to be used unlawfully causing damage to some property in the course of his expedition.
Expedition? Are we to understand that when Bryant left his home that morning – having not even told his live-in girlfriend that he had anything on the docket for the afternoon – he was planning an “expedition”?
The judge continues:
Arrived at the Martins’ home, he shot both of them dead and continued on to Port Arthur.
Wait. He had at that point supposedly achieved his grudge-relieving goal. The Martins were now dead (per the narrative). Why then go to Port Arthur? Hey, wait a minute. As noted above, the judge said:
He acquired high powered weapons and embarked with three of them, a very large supply of ammunition and accessories such as a sports bag to conceal the weapons, a hunting knife, two sets of handcuffs and rope.
If the focus was on killing the Martins, why would he need multiple weapons, and why would he buy a sports bag to conceal them, let alone why would he buy handcuffs?
Surely – surely – he could not have envisioned being able to kidnap (or was it carjack? Ah carjackings!) a person who would then serve as a hostage.
But that is what was proposed by the judge! Justice William Cox said that because of the materials
“painstakingly prepared by [the DPP] from the materials diligently assembled by the team of police and forensic investigators” [oh, Crikey] it is unnecessary for me to repeat it in detail or to attempt more than a brief summary.”
As I said above, Cox (later a vice-regal) opined:
The prisoner, it is clear, a lengthy period of time before the day on which it was carried into effect, formed the intention of causing the deaths of Mr and Mrs Martin against whom he had long harboured a grudge and at the very least of causing mayhem…. Indeed he seems to have contemplated mayhem of such a drastic kind that it would in all probability provoke a response which would result in his own death.
Note the circularity. “It is clear” that the purpose was to relieve a grudge, but the evidence that makes that clear is the evidence that – in order to carry out the wonderfully complicated Port Arthur massacre – Bryant did a lot of preparation.
And then we are told, as above, that having murdered the elderly couple, he figured he may as well go whole hog, doing “drastic mayhem.”
Personally, I don’t get it.
Back to the Accomplice Aspect
That was an aside. What I have set out to show in this article is that the very presence of more than one gunman at Seascape cottage, on the afternoon of the massacre, is sufficient proof that Martin did not act alone. The word “proof” is not too strong here.
If he did not act alone, who helped him and why?
So let’s abandon the nonsense about the motivation of a grudge and agree that this was a huge operation, a planned massacre.
I repeat: there were accomplices at Seascape. Thus, the whole case needs to be reinterpreted.
The Cui Bono of It All
OK, then, cui bono? Why would anyone commit the Port Arthur “tragedy”?
Those of us who have put any time into reading the evidence know that it was a government-run event. You can always tell that if police commissioners give crazy stories to the media, and if judges write crazy narratives as above, someone must be standing over such police commissioners and judges.
It seems queer to say it is “government” that does such things. Our understanding of “government” is that of an entity that upholds the law. But nowadays the institution of government has fallen in. It obeys mafia-like bosses.
Correct me if I’m wrong.
As mentioned, it was a quick perusal of the Sue Neill-Fraser case in Hobart that made me think of these things. My “theory” — or whatever you want to call it — is that government did the massacre at Port Arthur.
Stewart Beattie has pointed out that there were numerous ASIO people at the Broad Arrow Café – too numerous for them all to have been coincidentally holidaying at the Port Arthur Historic Site. Some died, but some are still alive. They could be questioned, couldn’t they?
And why was it of benefit for “ASIO” — whatever the hell that is – to create a massacre? Many investigators chalk it up to the Gun-control movement. I go a bit further in saying it is part of the overall planning for the destruction of society.
Either way, the criminals need to be rounded up, don’t they? Oh, were you of the mind that if they are salaried members of government, their work is not criminal but something less, like malfeasance? Forget it. Murder is not a mater of malfeasance. Murder is a very solid crime.
Oops, I just went to ASIO’s website, to check that it stands for Australian Security Intelligence Organization – yep, it does, and what do I find at the very top of the website (today, August 6, 2016)? This exhortation:
“If It Doesn’t Add Up, Speak Up”
Why thankye kindly, ASIO, I will.
Oopsie, and there is also an ad for employment with them. I am too old but you go for it, OK readers? It says:
“ASIO is seeking talented Australians to help collect information, connect the dots and play a crucial role in providing advice to government.”
Jayz. You can’t beat that.
— Mary W Maxwell lives in Adelaide. She has lots of grudges to settle.
Photo credit: southeasasianews.org/portarthur