Home Uncategorized What’s Up at Risdon? Who’s This New Judge in Tassie?

What’s Up at Risdon? Who’s This New Judge in Tassie?


Cherri Bonney’s last attempted visit to Risdon was in 2016

by Cherri Bonney

Last Friday – we are told by a “little birdie” — there was a mini-riot at Risdon. And for good cause. A prisoner was prevented at the last minute from attending his mother’s funeral. You only have one mother and she only has one funeral, you know. The man was devastated. This is partly because he had been told he could go. Indeed a nice suit for him to wear was dropped off by his family at the prison at 3pm the previous day.

Police were on standby (what, not on stand-down?) as it was said that a guard – pardonez moi, a “custodial officer” – may have been injured, and $50, 000 worth of damage done, by a ruckus of frustrated prisoners over this event.

The Diabetics’ Deaths

There are other things happening in Tasmania’s famous prison.

An inquest is taking place in Hobart with Coroner Steve Carey (wonder whatever became of Coroner Ian Matterson). It seems that a prisoner, Craig Peter Randall, died of complications of his diabetes and that this could be attributable to his not being given the proper diabetic diet at Risdon.

The Prison doctor Chris Wake has told the inquest Mr Randall stopped taking several medications before his death and complained about the meds he was given and the food he was consuming on a daily basis…. (Well, there goes that doctor’s job.)

The coroner has been told that the late Mr Randall was not screened for diabetes when he first went to prison, and never was screened full stop!

Dr Wake reports that prisoners are not forced to take their Med’s but to self-manage the best they can, whether it goes ‘wrong’ or ‘not.’ (Hit and miss is what I call it!)

An ex-inmate of Risdon has told me that Martin Bryant is hypnotised every few days to ‘quell’ the thoughts of the Port Arthur massacre — mainly to stop talking or thinking of the event!

That guy was a prisoner back in 1996; he knew Martin for nearly 2 years and did speak with him many times. He spoke of the times Martin had to be sedated and spoken to in hypnotic terms, while watching him from his cell door.

Tassie’s Backlog of Judicial Cases

Freshly appointed to the Tasmanian Supreme Court is Justice Brian Martin (interesting to say that name backwards: Martin Bryant justice Whoo-ee!)

This man was born 1947 in Adelaide. Age 70 this year. Isn’t that the retirement age for judges? Oh, hang on, I see from news.com.au that this is a temporary appointment “to clear a backlog of cases in Tasmania.”

There are four appointees, all  being dragged out of retirement (I wonder what’s afoot, don’t you?). They are: Former Supreme Court Justice Pierre Slicer Lautalatoa, David Porter QC, former Federal Court judge Shane Marshall, and former Northern Territory Chief Justice Brian Martin QC.

Wait, isn’t that the man who had to step down from working on a Royal Commission in the Northern Territory in 2012? Yes. On that occasion Judge Martin said – regarding Malcolm Turnbull and George Brandis–

“They have demonstrated a deep concern about the issues involved and a desire to proceed efficiently and appropriately. [Are you screaming?] No-one could have reasonably anticipated the matters that have been raised with respect to me personally. [Something about his daughter having worked on the case, hence a conflict of interest.]

Both the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General have expressed their disappointment about my decision but they also appreciate my reasons and have been very supportive of me,” he said.

Justice Martin also criticised those who had got their facts wrong about him “which could have been avoided with a little home work”.

Furthermore, Justice Martin said he believed he “would not have the full confidence of sections of the Indigenous community for the inquiry.”  Well, there you go.

This judge’s previous career has spanned many jobs including that of Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, DPP.

He has been a justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia, presiding over the Bodies in the Barrels case in 2002.

Oddly, he was also the sole judge (no jury) in the murder trial of a barrister in Western Australia. I am referring to the murder of Corryn Rayney who was a registrar in the WA Supreme Court. Her 2007 murder was unsolved for 3 years and then her husband was arrested over it. He himself was a prosecutor. Justice Martin found him not guilty.

The Prosecutor filed an appeal of that acquittal. According to wa.com.au, the prosecutors –  “argued the trial judge took the wrong approach in a circumstantial case because he declined to take certain evidence into account unless there was other evidence to support it.” Hmm. Would someone please send that message to Hobart?

At the moment Lloyd Rayney is suing Police Inspector Jack Lee for having defamed him on the day he was arrested. The lawsuit is for many millions, that being what the plaintiff might have earned as a barrister (a few grand a day) had he not been besmirched. Oh those poor barristers.

Bodies in the Barrels

A complicated murder trial in Adelaide was presided over, as I said, by Martin Bryant justice. Oh, slipped, I mean Justice Brian Martin. It began when 8 bodies were found in a barrel in a bank vault in a very stinky condition (well they would be wouldn’t they), in Snowton, SA.

John Bunting and other were convicted. A man who is writing a book about it and who invites comments at snowton.blogspot.com, starts the story like this:

In 1974, as an eight-year-old boy in Inala, an isolated working-class suburb in southwest Brisbane, John Bunting was abused by a man who has never been named. The abuse continued throughout his early teenage years, until ten years later, as an 18-year-old legal adult, he left Brisbane to set up a new life on the other side of the country in Perth. Arriving in Adelaide in 1984, his car broke down, its engine hopelessly inadequate for the journey. Without enough money to buy a new car, he needed a job, and stayed in Adelaide.

Wait till Mary W Maxwell gets ahold of that line about Bunting being abused as a child.

Smh.com.au wrote a chronology of the court case, which includes the following about the Year 2002 (the bodies were discovered in 1999):

May 21 – Bunting and Haydon charged with a further two counts of murder. Wagner was also charged with a further one count of murder and one count of assisting an offender.

June 27 – Nine counts of murder dropped against Haydon, with Justice Brian Martin ruling there was no prospect of a properly directed jury reaching a guilty verdict. Haydon remains charged with three counts of murder.

September 27 – Wagner pleads guilty to three murders but maintains not guilty pleas on another eight murder counts and one count of assisting an offender.

October 14 – The Supreme court trial of Bunting and Wagner starts.

October 15 – The jury is discharged after one of the panel members said she could no longer continue with the trial.

October 16 – The trial restarts with a new jury panel, who are warned by Justice Martin that details of the case were “most unpleasant”.

Peripatetic Is the Word for this Judge!

In 2016, ABC News carried these remarks about Martin:

Brian Martin QC has an intimate understanding of the legal landscape of the Top End and a long history of dealing with high-profile court cases.

He was the chief justice of the Northern Territory Supreme Court between 2004 and 2010 after serving as a Supreme Court judge in South Australia.

As a young man growing up in the Adelaide Hills, he combined law studies with sport, playing football with SANFL club Sturt.

His passion for football gave way to a legal career that saw him rise rapidly to crown prosecutor in Adelaide in the 1970s and Queen’s Counsel status in 1984.

He was Senior Counsel assisting the WA Inc Royal Commission in 1991.

WA, Inc? Now that is fascinating.

— Cherri Bonney is best known at Gumshoe for her musical talent but she is also a qualified herbologist.




  1. We’re 2 weeks away from the first anniversary of the 20th anniversary of the Port Arthur massacre, so to speak.

    The 20th anniversary had a wonderfu surprise — the release by Mike Willessee, don’t you know, of the police interviewing Martin on July 4, 1996.

    … the Lord works in strange ways….

  2. “An ex-inmate of Risdon has told me that Martin Bryant is hypnotised every few days to ‘quell’ the thoughts of the Port Arthur massacre — mainly to stop talking or thinking of the event!”

    It would be interesting to have an interview with a recently released prisoner to see what the view is in Risdon about Bryant’s innocence. The authorities must have seen some of the information about his innocence by now. Also the fact he is not allowed visitors must have rung some bells with the staff.

    I remember a bit about Lindy Chamberlain in gaol, everybody (prisoners and staff) believed she was innocent. There was even a story about when the ‘jumpsuit’ was brought in for her to identify and how the warden called up some authorities and told them to get her out of there. Perhaps there may be a similar attitude in Risdon about Bryant.

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