On Sunday 9th December, Martin Bryant’s mother Carleen phoned to say she was disturbed to hear that authorities were demanding that Martin undergo full DNA analysis, in a bid to find out what makes a mass murderer tick. Obviously concerned about her only son’s welfare, Carleen Bryant continued nervously “I suppose this means they will want to interrogate him [Martin] all over again.
At the time of her telephone call, Mrs Bryant was staying with friends on the mainland, and the information on Martin and his DNA was relayed by a contact in Hobart who had just read The Sunday Tasmanian. Perhaps luckily for Martin and his mother, the information provided by her contact in Hobart was incomplete. For the present at least, Martin is not about to be tied down so that his blood can be forcibly extracted, or once again be subjected to the modern Australian equivalent of the Spanish Inquisition.
The call for Martin’s DNA apparently originated from Professor Paul Wilson of Bond University in Queensland, touted by The Sunday Tasmanian newspaper as a leading criminologist. Wilson claims"There’s a lot of interest in the whole area of genetic pre-disposition to crime"..."especially with DNA technology advances, there is a big argument for looking at Bryant, it’s a unique case."
Martin Bryant is certainly a unique case, but examining his DNA will not help at all in identifying mass murderers. As most readers are already aware, hard scientific evidence exists today proving that Bryant never visited Port Arthur on 28th April 1996, and therefore cannot possibly be a mass murderer.
Presumably Professor Paul Wilson has not yet been advised that nineteen of the twenty dead in the Broad Arrow Café were killed with single shots to the head fired from the gunman’s right hip. In total only 29 rounds were fired in the Café, killing twenty and wounding another twelve. This was a staggering technical achievement, a feat so far beyond the known capabilities of an intellectually impaired invalid like Bryant, that it beggars the imagination.
Compare this deadly accuracy with the performance of experienced Irish Loyalist gunman Torrens Knight, who in company with one other, used a total of 120 rounds to kill eight and injure another eleven in the Catholic Rising Sun pub at Greysteel, Northern Ireland, during 1993. Only two of the victims were hit in the head, and most of the rounds missed completely, burying themselves in the furniture and walls.
Anyone deluded enough to suggest that intellectually impaired Martin Bryant was three times as accurate as two of the top Loyalist shooters in Northern Ireland, should probably make an appointment with his or her psychiatrist as a matter of urgency.
Predictably perhaps, the Tasmanian Police Service does not appear keen to participate in any new DNA adventures where Bryant is concerned. According to the newspaper, a police representative said that the "CrimTrac" database uses only junk DNA for identification purposes which does not contain any detailed genetic information. Any detailed examination of Bryant’s DNA might bring to light the embarrassing fact that no DNA matches were made between Bryant and the Broad Arrow, nor between Bryant and the expended shell cases found on the floor.
Put bluntly, the Tasmanian Police Service has no scientific evidence at all linking Martin Bryant to Port Arthur. Today, nearly five years after the event, TasPol has still not conducted the routine procedure of walking Bryant around the crime scenes to "validate" his seventy-two guilty pleas extracted under duress during November 1996.
In the view of this author, some senior Tasmanian Police Officers would probably be prepared to walk over broken glass in their bare feet, rather than conduct another interview with Martin Bryant, this time properly recorded on dual videos not subject to the various "breakdowns" claimed during his initial police interview in July 1996.
More interesting than Professor Wilson’s comments, are remarks the newspaper attributes to forensic psychologist Ian Joblin, who submitted a 30-page clinical psychological evaluation of Bryant to the Supreme Court of Tasmania, based on four days of interviews. Mr Joblin may be better known nationwide to the public for his work as clinical psychological counselor to the "notorious" and high-profile John Freidrich, Chief Executive of the doomed Victorian NSCA during the early nineties.
Readers may recall that after trying desperately to dig himself out of the mess he eventually found himself in, John Freidrich a.k.a. "Iago", allegedly by shot himself through the back of the head with a handgun - twice. Police recorded a verdict of suicide, although no suicide note was ever found.
"The Sunday Tasmanian quoted Mr Joblin as saying that anxiety and stress after Port Arthur may have affected Bryant’s demeanour during those four days of interviews and it was time for more research. "I’d like to see him again to compare notes" Joblin said, "To try and understand .... five years later."
If these quotes are accurate, then we have a truly extraordinary situation. Out of his own mouth, the only forensic psychologist to interview Bryant appears to be suggesting that his reports may have been different if Bryant was not under stress after Port Arthur, though straightforward stress can have nothing to do with it.
At the time of these interviews Bryant was in agony from third-degree burns to the back and side, suffered when Seascape caught fire. There can be few stresses more powerful than those induced by third degree burns. If the quotes in The Sunday Tasmanian are not accurate, Mr Joblin should ask the newspaper to print a retraction.
Quite obviously neither Mr Joblin or anyone else has the right to talk to convicted felon Martin Bryant without his consent, and because Bryant is an intellectually impaired invalid, any applicant would also need to seek consent from his guardian. Because the Tasmanian Government and Supreme Court blatantly failed to provide Bryant with a guardian, the only person at this late stage who can lay claim to this position is his own next-of-kin and mother, Mrs Carleen Bryant. Mrs Bryant has confirmed for me that Mr Joblin has not approached her on this matter.
One can reasonably ask why all of the sudden renewed interest in Bryant after five years of almost total neglect, but the answer is obscure. Perhaps the best clue is that Risdon Prison suddenly received a large number of written apologies for Martin Bryant in the week leading up to "Martin Bryant Sorry Day" on 22nd November, two weeks before the newspaper was published.
The apologies were signed by ordinary Australians, all seriously concerned that Bryant had not received a trial, and wishing him well. By all accounts, this sudden rush of mail to Risdon led to a limited number of panic attacks around the Australian establishment, especially withinTasmania.
Within days of the same event, the author suddenly received multiple inquiries from the mainstream media asking for interviews, with at least one caller showing considerable ingenuity. Because we have a silent telephone line, Radio 2UE managed to find the telephone number of the house across the road here in Perth, and asked its owner to walk over and ask me to call the John Laws Programme in Sydney. Apparently Mr Laws wished to speak to me on air about "Martin Bryant Sorry Day".
My response to a producer of the John Laws Programme, was that I could see no point in going live to air on the matter, unless a format could be devised which provided ordinary people with the background, i.e. why we had to arrange "Martin Bryant Sorry Day" in the first place.
After thinking about the options, I suggested that John Laws find a commissioned Tasmanian Police Officer to go head-to-head with me on live radio, thereby providing an opportunity to convince the Australian public once and for all time that there is absolutely no evidence linking Martin Bryant to Port Arthur. On the flip side of the coin, it might provide an opportunity for a major Australian media star to put me down completely, and thus rid the poor harassed Australian politicians of an arch "Conspiracy Theorist".
But I would only be put down if I failed to convince Australian listeners that my independent investigation was accurate, and the Tasmanian Police Service investigation of 1996 inaccurate. A calculated risk by any media standard. To be fair, the producer seemed quite enthusiastic and said she would pass on my offer to John Laws. Then she told me John Laws was going on holiday, and then of course there was Christmas. Oh well, maybe we can talk about it again in the New Year.
Regardless of who wants to interview whom about what, the sudden resurgence of interest in Martin Bryant is the single most important factor. No matter whether it is academics and doctors who wish to use him as a human guinea pig, or the media and others who might prefer to vilify him all over again, his name has once again been put in front of ordinary Australians. And so it should be.
Our initial collective lack of concern for an intellectually impaired young man tortured into admitting guilt for a mass murder he did not commit, shames Australia and Australians as no other single act could. We owe it to ourselves to ensure that Martin Bryant receives the trial he is entitled to in law.