|MARTIN BRYANT, PATSY|
"Mankind can only bear so much reality." These immortal words of TS Elliot related to internal reality, the reality of who we are at our innermost core. They are though also well suited to external reality - the nature of the world in which we live, ideas of crime, law, order, justice, government, the state. In order to remain sane, we join a consensus, a collective consciousness, if you will, that corrals all these disparate but interconnected abstract nouns in a protected space where they will settle, static and comforting.
Sometimes though, volcanic upheavals shock us into realising that what we thought was rock solid could be blown away like so much smoke, upheavals such as war, economic collapse and natural disasters. It is during events like these that our sanity can be sorely tested.
Rarer still are ideas so shocking, so threatening to our conception of the world, that our minds instinctively snap shut against them. They belong to a reality that mankind cannot bear. Whether we keep our minds locked or test our ability to bear the unbearable is of course a personal choice. Coming to this fork in the road, do we scamper along with the timid crowd, or do we take the road less travelled? Both roads offer advantages. The first will offer protection against our worldview falling apart as once solid buildings do in an earthquake. The second may harden us, arm us and equip us with the power that only knowledge can provide, free of illusion.
Now step up with me to the parting of the ways. An almost peculiarly American phenomenon has seen for many years successive governments, or rogue elements thereof, slaughtering, or allowing to be slaughtered, their own citizens for political gain. The best known examples are Pearl Harbor, the Oklahoma bombing and 9/11. The British got into this act early by orchestrating the sinking of the Lusitania in an attempt to lure the US into World War 1.
At approximately 13.30 on April 28, 1996, Australia's distance from the rest of the world's turmoil proved to offer no protection from an evil so so satanic as to defy comprehension when that same tried and trusted method was visited upon its sunny shores. At that time at the Port Arthur Historic Site (PAHS) in Tasmania, a man, after a snack and drinking a can of Schweppes Solo in the Broad Arrow Cafe, stood up from his table, withdrew a semi-automatic rifle from a sports bag and with military precision began blasting away at customers and staff.
The shooter displayed the skill only a few people in the world would possess - the skill and the rare psychological callousness to be able to continue shooting while witnessing close-up the horror he was creating. He fired from the hip while swivelling to avoid being tackled and disarmed. With almost super-human coolness, he counted while he shot so he would know when to clip in a new magazine while still having a round in the chamber. Within just several minutes he is said to have fired 29 rounds, although inexplicably not adding up to the twenty dead, 19 of whom were head-shot, and twelve wounded. This was an inversion of the killed to wounded ratio usually seen in combat and terrorist events - another demonstration of the shooter's uncanny ability. Satisfied that his work was done here, the man left the cafe hunting more victims. Another 15 lives would end that day. Another 11 would be wounded - the same inverted killed to wounded ratio.
The man we are asked to believe was responsible for this atrocity was one Martin Bryant. A resident of Newtown, Hobart, Bryant could only score 66 on the intelligence quotient scale, so low that in an adulthood more resembling a childhood, he would require a guardian. He had had no military training. He could fire a gun but would struggle to knock a tin can off a fence at close range. His child-like nature contained an abhorrence at the harming of any living thing. Bryant fired a gun left-handed. The shooter in the cafe and beyond fired right-handed. Since escaping from a burning building in which, as patsies usually are, he was supposed to have died, and then being strapped down on his back on which he bore first degree burns, Bryant has been the victim of torture, albeit more subtle than initially. He is said to resemble a caged and sick, dumb animal.
Extensive and intricate planning went into the military style operation that day at Port Arthur, something else Bryant would have been utterly incapable of. Would, for example, a mentally handicapped man have the cunning, ability and foresight to arrange for the only two policemen in the area - Constable Paul Hyland stationed at Nubeena and Constable Garry Whittle stationed at neighbouring Dunalley - to be sent on a wild goose chase which took them to Saltwater River, at least 25 minutes travelling time from Port Arthur just before the shooting started. They were sent to investigate an alleged stash of heroin which turned out to be laundry powder. Notified of the carnage happening at Port Arthur they sped back but only to block off escape routes from the crime scene.
At the actual location where unimaginable carnage had just occurred, one lone policeman was the sole representative of law and order and possible protection while the gunman was still at large and feared to be returning to the cafe where PAHS staff were bravely and desperately trying to save the wounded.
Wendy Scurr, a remarkable woman, was the Information Officer at Port Arthur. She selflessly and unhesitatingly took charge of caring for the injured, triage style, inside the cafe. She would later give a graphic account of what she experienced, part of which was, "I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw two Asian people still sitting in their chairs at the table with their meals in front of them. One was still holding his knife and the other had the index finger through the handle of the coffee cup she had been drinking from. Both had been shot through the head. .... I trod on something. It seemed to crack under my feet. It was the skull of a young woman. She had the top blown off her head and to my horror her brain was lying in a bowl of chips."
Wendy was one of two people who had seen the gunman and stated categorically it was not Martin Bryant. The other was a Vietnam Vet, John Godfrey, who had seen the gunman twice outside the cafe.
Of the forty odd people who had survived the shooting inside the cafe, only a few identified the gunman as being Bryant but this was only after a photo of Bryant had been shown world-wide. For obvious reasons a law exists prohibiting such a thing occurring but in this instance absolutely no effort was made to enforce it. It would be no great stretch to conclude that the police were colluding with the media.
Moreover, regarding the police, more than an incredible six hours were to pass between the first shots fired and the arrival in force of heavily armed police. Even the Keystone Cops could have responded faster than this. Who was holding them back and why?
As seen, witness identification was, to say the least, problematical. But perhaps it was superfluous given the supposed weight of evidence that was used to damn Bryant. So let's go through it. That didn't take long because there is none. How about the aforementioned articles left behind in the cafe by the gunman: the can of Solo, a plastic Schweppes cup he drank from, a video camera, the sports bag in which the rifles said to be used were carried and still containing various articles including a blood-stained knife, as well as the food tray he used and was seen by one witness to drop to the floor as soon as the shooting started. Surely that would contain fingerprints and DNA evidence that would seal the case for Bryant being the mass murderer.
One problem: these articles were never examined. Only one reason could be for that and it would be that fingerprints and DNA would be shown to belong to someone other than Bryant. The blood on the knife was said to belong to David Martin allegedly stabbed to death by Bryant. Noeline and David Martin, acquaintances of Bryant, and owners of The Seascape cottage guesthouse, were alleged to have been Bryant's first victims before continuing to the PAHS driven by an insatiable blood-lust. Noeline was shot to death. The knife is another piece that refuses to fit into the puzzle. This is because later back at the Seascape guest house and then under siege, Bryant, said to be identifying himself as "Jamie" while on a phone-call to a police negotiator tells him about having his "favourite" knife with him. If it was his favourite knife, wouldn't this have given him extra pleasure in using it to murder David Martin? Incidentally, in another instance of doubling-up, immediately after the shooting inside the cafe, a witness was to report seeing the gunman putting a sports bag into the boot of a car. Had the first sports bag left inside the cafe reproduced itself?
If anything could be more astonishing and difficult for a human brain to process than the massacre, it was the unbelievably amateurish and cocked up framing of Bryant that still managed to go unnoticed by the Australian public. It's difficult to know where to start. However ...
The weaponry: Two assault rifles were said to be used on the Tasman Peninsula that terrible day, a Colt AR 15 Semi-automatic and a Belgian FN - FAL Semi-automatic SLR although at least one of the wounded needed shotgun pellets extracted from his flesh. Bryant is not known to have owned either of these guns. The Colt that he bought in 1993 through an advertisement in The Mercury was an AR 10. This rifle was brought into a gun-shop owned by one Terry Hill in late March '96 for repair. PROBLEM: It was still in the shop on the day of the shooting.
According to a News.com.au article of March 3, 2016, Bryant is recorded as saying he didn't blame Terry Hill for selling him an AR 15. This, when all factors are accounted for, sounds very much like Bryant saying what he'd been coached to say after being broken by more than six months of solitary confinement, all during which he could not be persuaded to plead guilty. The loudest alarm bell here is Terry Hill refusing to admit he had sold Bryant any gun and with records to prove it.
When pressure was brought to bear on Hill in the form of an intimidating letter from attorney, John Avery (hold that name) on behalf of Tasmania Police in which a form of protection would be offered to Hill if he did what he was told. (protection racket?) On the other hand, if Hill refused to play along, dire consequences were predicted. Hill, being evidently an honourable man stuck to his guns, so to speak. He was forced out of business soon after.
The two assault rifles were found damaged outside the Seascape Cottage after police had evidently set it on fire and before Bryant emerged in a ball of flame, and after Bryant was supposed to have held off police all night with the rifle-fire of a trained sniper. What was he firing bullets with, his much loved knife? It doesn't get much more curioser than curious when eventually the damaged AR was found to have been surrendered to police in a prior buy-back and then resold by the police to a third party.
The siege: This lasted from the afternoon of the 28th till the morning of the 29th. Bryant, or "Jamie" demonstrated impressive battle skills throughout. Not only could he be on the telephone calmly speaking to a police negotiator at the same time as shots were being fired from within the building he could cleverly emulate a sub-atomic particle doing its famous quantum leap and being in two places at the same time. While, for example, he could be on the ground floor speaking on the phone and sometimes cooking up snacks, he could at the same time be on the roof of Seascape taking pot-shots at helicopters evacuating the wounded to hospitals in Hobart.
Also, how's this for someone with no combat experience or military training - extracts from the transcript of telephone conversation between "Jamie" and the police negotiator:
Jamie: ... What I've actually found out man is that one of you boys is right outside North East. I'd say with an infra-red scope ... just ask him to move on.
McCarthy: (police negotiator) Alright, we'll do that. Now.
Jamie: Good, good, good, good. Um now the name of this scope is a laser scope. Laser devices now it's the same sort of red dot I've noticed ...
In another part of the transcript, when negotiations are going on about a helicopter to transport the gunman and his hostages away from the scene,MacCarthy says something like, now I know you don't want to give us your real name but how about just giving us you passport number (presumably so subsequent air-flight out of the country can be arranged) Jamie helpfully does just that. Really, how many people can remember their passport number? The actual passport, almost a precursor of the passport belonging to one of the 9/11 hijackers that fluttered to earth in pristine condition, is lying conveniently nearby in the yellow Volvo just waiting to be found. The car is left unattended all night with a window open resulting in all fingerprints inside and out being destroyed by the night's condensation. Who else beside Bryant was in it will never be known.
A man dressed in black was said to be seen darting between buildings of the Seascape complex. Had Martin changed out of the light coloured clothing he been seen in earlier in the day? Apparently though, not much clothing at all was left on Bryant as he escaped the blazing Seascape yelling, "Don't shoot. Don't shoot. I'm the hostage." If this was a ploy, it was a good one for a man with the mind of an eleven year old.
The trial that never happened. As already seen, Martin was kept in solitary for more than six months, longer than sanity can usually survive. After having two defence attorneys appointed to him - they didn't last, possibly because the opprobrium attracted by defending the most hated man in the country meant the heat in the kitchen was too much to bear - a third attorney was appointed him. You should still have this name tucked away in your head, it was none other than John Avery, the attorney who'd been working for the police trying to pressure Terry Hill into admitting he sold a Colt AR 15 to Bryant. He apparently switched sides so adroitly that the words, conflict of interest, never drifted through anyone's mind. Avery is a filthy, avaricious, lying thief who was convicted in '09 for misappropriation and 129 counts of stealing. His highly amusing and creative defence was that he'd become addicted to high value works of art. He was sentenced to six years but was out in just over three.
You wouldn't want this joker by your side even to contest a parking infringement. You'd end up in gaol. He actually took credit for the unrelenting way in which he convinced Bryant to plead guilty, therefore, in his mind, sparing the grief-stricken from further pain. That could possibly be seen as not taking instructions from a client until finally getting instructions you liked. He bragged about the creative way in which he turned Bryant around. Keith Allan Noble claims in Mass Murder that what ultimately got Bryant across the line was the promise of a TV set in his lonely cell, something like, you'll be spending the rest of your life in a cell anyway and if you don't plead guilty you'll be doing it without a TV set.
Nothing was too low in regard to working on Bryant to avoid a trial that would have been disastrous for the real perpetrators. Even his mother, Carleen, was drafted into service. To what she afterwards claimed to be her everlasting shame, she allowed herself to be coerced into telling Martin that if he didn't plead guilty he would never see her or his sister ever again. And this after elsewhere saying, "he wouldn't have had the brains to do it". Slimy Avery bragged that getting into his client's head wasn't easy but he managed it anyway. One of his tactics, he was proud to say, was having him drawing pictures of how the killings were carried out. The poor bastard probably thought he was drawing pictures of the real gunman committing the killings.
Most outrageous of all in terms of preventing a trial was the illegal confiscation of Bryant's wealth which was substantial as a result of a sympathetic friend leaving her estate to him. It was claimed that the reason for this was to put the money toward compensating the survivors of the tragedy as well as families of those killed. However, Keith Noble claims in Mass Murder that no-one saw a cent of this money. The real reason for the confiscation of Bryant's money appears to be so that he would be prevented from obtaining a decent defence. Finding someone to represent him appointed via paltry government legal aid was problematical as few lawyers relished the idea of becoming the country's second most hated person. Indeed, this seems to be the reason his first two court appointed lawyers didn't stick around long, at least one of them known to be the recipient of hate mail.
However, if Bryant hadn't had his money stolen from him by the State, he would have been able to pay the kind of fee that a top legal team would tend to see as adequate compensation for whatever opprobrium the job attracted,
No coronial inquest ever took place, notwithstanding that by law it was absolutely essential. This was largely the result of prime minister of the time, John Howard's recommendation that this would be simply salt in the wounds of all who had lost love ones to the killer, and besides, everybody already knew who the killer was so any inquest or trial would be not only painful but superfluous. In this, Howard skated dangerously close to trashing the much revered Westminster system, a central tenet of which is a fire-wall erected between the executive and the judiciary. Or did know more than he would ever let on? Something so terrible that no risk could be taken with the escape of its knowledge through the rattling of legal cages.
Moreover, the potential pain to survivors may have been a worthwhile trade-off for getting to the truth instead of being ploughed under with bullshit and knowing that, instead of getting off scott-free, the actual killers were being hunted and their facilitators were getting their just deserts (if only their being lined up against a wall was possible). Australia would never have been the same again but so what if the happiness of the fool was replaced by a healthy fear and loathing of what our State is capable of.
So what are we to make of all this? Firstly, that the continuing torment in confinement of an innocent man is by far the worst travesty of justice in Australia's history. Secondly, that we the people should be highly wary of a State that is capable of murdering us, or at least allowing us to be murdered and then covering it up, should the stakes be high enough. That there was a cover up, there is no doubt. But what were the stakes? At the outset, we saw that what happened at Port Arthur was not the first event of its kind. A political end is always the motive. And the motive here was to largely disarm the Australian population. Why? So it is incapable of fighting back. Against what? Anyone who has read A Government of Wolves, by John Whitehead can be in no doubt that the US is spiralling into totalitarian police state. The surveillance, police state is coming about largely because of exponentially developing technology mated with the murkier side of human nature. Why is the US becoming a police state? Because it can.
But it could never happen here in laid back Australia. Could it? Perhaps we might be too distracted by football and reality TV to notice. Generally, we are usually just a few years behind America. In fact simply watching America is like peering at Australia's future in crystal ball. Whitehead notes the unmistakable militarisation of American police caused by the infusion of military tactics and a torrent of hand-me-downs of military equipment. SWAT raids, for example, that were once rare are now as unexceptional as postal deliveries. The next time a televised report of a drug bust in Sydney or Melbourne appears, take note of the way the police are dressed. A bit like a SWAT team?
In exactly the same way that Port Arthur was orchestrated by forces of the New World Order both here and abroad, suspicion is warranted in regard to the ramping up of the number of mass shootings now taking place in the US. An ongoing attack is being ruthlessly waged against the second amendment. But that amendment was inserted for the best of all possible reasons. Without it, no hope at all exists in the coming war against the monstrous technological machine of NWO totalitarianism. "Out of my cold dead hands," indeed. The answer to the perennial question asked by Plato amongst others of "who will guard the guardians?" is, the "guarded".
Martin Bryant has spent 22 years in Risdon Prison. Unless he's helped he will die there. If he is helped, a chance exists that he will be exonerated and allowed to spend the rest of his life as a free man. At 51, he is still a relatively young man. If he stays in gaol, at 51 he may be a very old man.
Sources: Mass Murder, Keith Allan Noble
The Port Arthur Massacre: was Martin Bryant framed?