by Mary W Maxwell, LLB
It’s me. It’s me Martin. You never met me. The only time the public heard my voice was when I was 12 years old. I lit some firecrackers and ended up on television, in my pajamas. But since April 28, 1996 I’m an Australian icon. Not like Arnott’s biscuit sort of icon, you know, more like the bad kind. Like a monster. The worst possible human being.
Today is December 10, 1996. Last month, November, I was sentenced to a thousand years in prison for killing 35 people. I most certainly did not kill anyone. Actually there is an exception. I may have killed one man by mistake, but it wasn’t at Port Arthur. I’ll tell you about that later. Martin Greets the Audience
Today I’m keen to reveal myself to you. Luckily some people in Adelaide are willing to do a Moot Court. I hope it will be better than the real court, last month, where I had no chance to speak. Not a single word. Not even a sigh.
There was no jury. In November, the prosecutor read a long statement to the judge. He listed umpteen things I supposedly did that day. It was exhausting just to listen to it.
When I first appeared in court, 5 months after some guy apparently committed a massacre at Port Arthur, I pleaded innocent. Naturally. I am innocent! Maybe the judge was surprised to hear me say “No” to every one of the 72 charges.
I had been in solitary confinement since April, and the guards were not allowed to discuss the case with me. Everybody in Australia was allowed to discuss it, but not me! I was not allowed to look at a newspaper either.
Still, I remember exactly what I did that day, that Sunday. So five months of solitary, plus the sores from my burns, would not make me cave in and say “Guilty.”
Therefore when I went to court on September 30, 1996, there I was, saying Not Guilty. That was two months ago. I expected it would lead to a trial. But it never did.
My New Lawyer
A few days later, it must have been October 3, I was assigned a new lawyer, John Avery. He told me that the previous lawyer, David Gunson, had to quit because it was unethical for him to report that I claimed innocence.
Maybe I’m a bit thick, as they say I am, because it made sense to me the way he said it. Though, in the movies, you do see a lawyer claiming that his client is as pure as a lily, even when she is obviously a criminal.
The new man, Avery, said that the only way I could keep him as my lawyer would be if I gave him no bullshit. He said – this is a direct quote from Avery’s transcript of my “consultation” with him on October 3, 1996. He said:
“If you follow the evidence through … 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”
Well, I wasn’t in Hong Kong. I was in Seascape cottage around 1.30 that Sunday afternoon. John Avery only had to say “Martin was in Seascape” — there was no need to talk about anything ridiculous like Hong Kong. He then said:
“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.”
I felt I had to agree not to tell “bullshit.” I kept asking John if there would be a trial. He did not answer yes or no. He kept saying “Maybe. We’ll see.”
In October I decided to go along with Avery’s advice and plead guilty to everything. My mother said if I did not plead guilty I would not be able to see her or my sister Lindy again. I feel bad that my family is suffering.
The November Hearing
Let’s talk about the courtroom on November 7. As I said, the prosecutor, that’s Damian Bugg – what a funny name — read a long statement. I sat in silence.
Avery was sitting near me, but only opened his mouth a couple of times. It was not to defend me or to correct erroneous things that were said.
I still can’t figure out why they said I set the Seascape cottage on flames. The cops who arrested me saw me coming out of Seascape. I wouldn’t very likely burn a house that I would burn myself in, would I?
Anyway, I regret pleading guilty on November 7, since that apparently deprived me of a trial. But now the Moot court tells me that even with a guilty plea, a prosecutor had an obligation to lay out the story based on real evidence that he has in file. He is not allowed to conjure up other things.
The Moot Court people from Adelaide also told me that since I was under guardianship, based on the Mental Health Act, that I should have had a solicitor with me on July 4 when the four police – three guys and a lady – came in to question me. Perpetual Trustees was my guardian.
The police video’d me and I am glad they did. Otherwise there could be even more lies as to “Martin said this” and “Martin said that.” All I did was answer their questions.
They asked me if I stopped to buy a lighter at a shop. Well, no, I don’t smoke so I don’t need lighters. They asked me if I stopped at another place to buy a bottle of tomato sauce. What would I do, drink the tomato sauce on the road?
Those police never mentioned anything about me selling marijuana to two girls whose car broke down, but at the November court thing the prosecutor, Damian Bugg, did say to the judge that I stopped to help two girls on the road.
I don’t know what their names are supposed to be. Anyway, I’m not able to sell weed because I don’t have any. I gave that up a while ago.
Looks like I’ll never have a smoke again around this place. Or a beer. Or a female in my bed. Or my mum’s rabbit stew. This seems so unfair.
A thousand years. Justice Cox gave me a thousand years.
I don’t think I’m up for it.
— End of Act I, Scene 1.
Gumshoe will publish Scene 2 shortly, dv.
— Mary W Maxwell is presenting this show on March 15, 2017 at 3pm for the Adelaide Fringe. No ticket needed. The venue is the Burnside Library.