Home Australia Act I, Scene 1 of the Moot Court Trial. Martin Bryant Introduces...

Act I, Scene 1 of the Moot Court Trial. Martin Bryant Introduces Himself to the Fringe Audience.



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.



    • Eegads, we all survived it.

      A local real estate agent played Bryant.
      He wants to sell your house, so ask me for his name.

      Two gumshoers were in the audience: Fredrick Toben and Mal Hughes. And another was in the play: “Richard.”
      Funnily enogh my Inquest book arrived today from the printers so I gave copies to the guests.

      Signed, Amazed

      • Give them a minute or two, will you? Unfortunately, there have to be “enough” participants (don’t know how many that is) in order to accomplish anything so huge as what we’re trying to do.

        But the Act I is absolutely great! Did anyone get a decent video of the whole thing? Were there quite a few attendees?

        One thing that bothers me a little from what you’ve written here in the “article” is that for the first time I get the idea that mum may have been in on this conspiracy. What do you think?

        That thing about Jamie at Seascape and someone’s wife wanting to participate in the kidnapping — well, I’m not as familiar as I should be with all of the details and don’t really know who Jamie is, but that certainly sounds like something that needs to be followed up on.

        Thanks for doing this! I hope it really starts an awareness “fire” and gets more and more people talking and sharing about the mostly unknown facts of this case.

        • No, Spec, I defo don’t think the mother, Carleen Bryant, meant any harm. I am sure she is under control today, age 78. I imagine she is not allowed to look at Youtube — if she did maybe she would find her way to us. In her book she explains that her brother became very accusatory of her, as he believes the official story.

          I presume Mother also assumed the story was true. In 1996 we were not sophisticated about the way the media lies. She was obeying “defense attorney Judy Clarke” — oops I mean John Avery — when she told Martin she couldn’t visit again unless he pleaded guilty. I imagine that was the clincher for Martin as to what he should do. (And also for Jahar, though I do realize he never said “I plead guilty.”)

          Moreover, on the day that Avery personally picked Carleen up, in his car, to take her tio the prison to deliver that ultimatum, she says (in her 2010 book “My Story”) that a pile of newsmen were ouotside her house when Avery arrived.

          They must have known “something.”

          To answer yr qq about a substantial audience, I will say that two ladies showed up an hour early because they thought they otherwise might not get in. (Don’t worry, it was not SRO.)

          One male member of the audience told me it was an “improvement” over my previous Fringe. I forgot to ask peeps how they heard about it. Only 5 attendees were beknownst to me personally.

      • Cherri — from the NY Times obit of Maria Callas (in 1977):

        “It opened up a whole new repertory for singers such as Joan Sutherland and Beverly Sills to follow the path set by Miss Callas.”

        “I wanna come home, Mum. What’s my crime? Government locked me away. Can I come home now?”

        [yelling] CAN I COME HOME NOW……

  1. A good confession, the recent documentary on Princess Di,? she must have known not to challenge the Monarchy? did she lose her mind when she knew her marriage was circumspect and worst at the end, and fate could only be death that was now close at hand?

    • Don, if I’m not greatly mistaken — but I hope I am greatly mistaken — we are all so many Princess Di’s.

      Pretty sure this is because it is hard to “get together” and make our wishes count, as against those whose drive for survival makes them act horrifically.

      • Their are to many Princesses today, requiring superior treatment from to small a number of humble servants, having said that, Di was the one who arose and brought attention to the evils of say land mines? how many Princesses do you know who put out a unpopular if not a forbidden word?.

    • Was there really applause at the end, Mal? I didn’t hear it because I was so amazed during curtain call when “the DPP” attacked “the prisoner.” I mean physically. More or less gave him a half Nelson, backwards.

      Guess the man who played Damian Bugg got too deep into his role. Well, that’s good. I had been “expecting the unexpected” for weeks leading up to the show, and was wary all during the show, but nothing happened. Then this!

      I think Broadway is not where I belong – too many possibilities, too many contingencies. Wow.

  2. Just for the record:
    I noticed something in the text today that I had never thought about until I heard the actor speak the lines (as Jamie at Seascape):

    McCarthy: Now you were talking just a little bit about the,
    um, Rick having come from Fortescue Bay. Can you just
    enlighten me as to what happened there?

    Jamie: Yeah yeah, I got him and managed to get him his wife
    she he wanted to participate um in the kidnapping …

    WANTED TO PARTICIPATE????? Hello? Hello?

  3. Hello Mary, sorry you havn’t heard from me 4 so long. We came from NSW to see your play. Hope my kids didn’t upset too many people. Anyway I just spoke to a lawyer friend about the whole thing. He says that he has never heard of a case for Martin’s innocence, but wants to look into it.
    Keep up the good work. Surprising how many people have just not heard the defence case.

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