by Mary W Maxwell
Editor’s Note: this is a plea to readers to join the birthday cake fandangle for MB.
GumshoeNews.com has a few favorite topics, as can be seen on the masthead of the website. One is Port Arthur. Most of the articles on that subject up to May 2016 got put into a book which is a free download: Port Arthur: Enough Is Enough, by Mary W Maxwell and Dee McLachlan. Since then there have been developments in Martin Bryant’s case — the present article will list them.
The 21st anniversary of the PAM (Port Arthur massacre) is this week: April 28. The fiftieth birthday of the wrongly-imprisoned Aussie is next week.
Three Legal Developments
There may be many developments that we don’t know about. Here are three that have been discussed at Gumshoe.
First, I discovered that the Supreme Court of Tasmania erred in sending back to me my petition for a Writ of Error Coram Nobis. They said coram nobis is not recognized in Tasmanian law but this is incorrect.
Coram nobis came over with the First Fleet and has never been repealed by statute in Tasmania. It is part of common law and can be invoked. It is a letter sent to the original court with information as to how the court erred.
Second, in 2015 Tasmania legislated – in acknowledged imitation of South Australia’s law – to give opportunity for a convicted killer to re-appeal based on fresh and compelling evidence. The “new development” is that someone in Tasmania is tying to get a murder charge over-ruled on this basis. Her name is Sue Neills-Fraser. And, by the way, South Australia has by now had its second successful case using that law of fresh evidence.
Third, as recently reported, a convicted killer in Western Australia, Gene Gibson, recently was sent home from prison when a judge determined that his guilty plea in 2012 had been made involuntarily.
Of course there is no automatic connection of the Gibson case to the Bryant case. And the setting of a precedent by a Supreme Court of another state does not carry over (as would a High Court ruling).
For the latter two of these breakthroughs to help Martin Bryant, there would need to be a filing in the Supreme Court of Tasmania. I am not admitted to the bar and cannot do it, but would assist anyone who will try. For the first one, coram nobis, I can try again myself, as can any layperson.
I am not an avid reader of the news and may be unaware of citizen actions to help Bryant. As noted at Gumshoe, a lady named Salama Shaquana, got 300 signatures on a petition back in 2008. (I’ve been unable to trace her.)
Then Cherri Bonney amassed 3,201 signatures at Change.org, asking premier Will Hodgeman for an Inquest. It appears that this petition is now “locked,” but Cherri has started a new one which has 92 signers so far.
The main publicity, however, was a negative one. I refer to the Mike Willessee show in March 2016, which reinforced the original pack of lies. Persons watching that show even saw Martin pointing to himself and saying “me” as the guilty party.
I have not had the energy to try to find out how Willesee got a hold of that police interview, dated July 4, 1996. However it had a happy unintended effect. It gave us material to do a Fringe show based on that police interview. Thanks, Mike!
The Four Fringes
In March 2015, Dee McLachlan and I put on a variety show that concluded — as one of its 10 numbers – a skit about Martin being allowed to go free from Risdon. Then in February 2016 we did another Adelaide Fringe show that featured the reading of the Fodder Note. (It is now on Youtube.)
I nearly fell over that we were allowed to get away with reading what appears to be a genuine report of Martin Bryant being tortured at a hospital when he was age 21. I only mildly disguised it as a takeoff on Chaucer’s Pardoner’s Tale.
In November 2016 I attempted a moot court trial at the Melbourne Fringe. This was only a two-man show (me and Dee) that went no further than to try to set up Martin’s side of the story as to his itinerary on Sunday, April 28th.
One of the venue options for Melbourne fringe was RMIT lecture hall, but pretty expensive and I could just imagine security guards doing a Paul Offit Special. So we used Dee’s movie studio and had an audience of vanishing proportions.
The Moot Court Idea, however, led to the Adelaide Fringe performance on March 15, 2017. We used professional actors who had no qualms about playing a part even if the part was “dissident.” After all, acting is acting. Parts of this show will soon be on Youtube.
Persons came from 4 states (that I know of) to see it. Only one of them is a reader of Gumshoe. I have no idea how the others heard about it. As I mentioned in a comment, two ladies from SA showed up an hour early so they wouldn’t get “shut out.” My goodness. Wouldn’t that have been something!
I do not want the job of coordinating the “justice” of the PAM. I’d like to hear from others who are interested. In any case, for the time being, could we do a communal effort at a cake? Here is my suggestion.
Please go to a shop and buy a simple cake; it does not have to be a birthday cake. If you do something to make it look festive, fine. If not we will be happy to dress it up here. That is, if you send us a selfie of it.
It wouldn’t be good to grab a photo of a cake from Google. There are hundreds of them, but I would like to tell Martin that people all over Australia are really eating a piece of cake to celebrate his 50th. And you can’t eat a picture.
Let’s not use our names, as that will put a damper on it for some folks. Please just send the photo of cake and the name of the city you want to be shown. Dee will make a collage of the photos from Dubbo, Paris, or wherever. We need the photos soon, so this can be MAILED to Risdon before May 7th.
As mentioned, Cherri Bonney attempted to visit him but was turned away. I wrote to him in care of the Superintendent of the Prison only to be told that Martin does not want mail.
So let’s send the big, customized birthday-cake-card and see if the prison dares to say that “Martin doesn’t want a card for his 50th.”
By the way I hate to give Risdon a compliment, but to have let the man live to reach age 50 is pretty good, isn’t it? Recall the ABC Background Briefing show that virtually invited other prisoners to kill him.
(I wrote to 16 officials at various levels of government concerning Bryant’s need for protection and was happy to receive one reply.)
Note: we’d love to be contacted by the rap artist who produced this very on-point song:
Cake makers, please e-mail email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
— Mary W Maxwell won the Betty Crocker award in her high school “home economics” class, despite which she has never made a birthday cake.