wake of Port Arthur, the Tasmanian Government and Police
Service went to great lengths to "fit up" gun
dealer Terry Hill as the man who provided Martin Bryant
with the weapons alleged to have been used in the
massacre. This draconian activity culminated in a civil
court case against Hill, seemingly launched by survivor
Quin for damages and breach of statutory duty.Active in
the case was Roland Brown, solicitor for the Legal Aid
Commission and Chairman of the Coalition for Gun Control.
On 5th March 1998 the case against Terry Hill was
The treatment Terry Hill has received since 1996 at the hands of the Tasmanian Government and Police Service is horrific. Without a single shred of credible evidence, someone somewhere decided that Hill would be the "fall guy" who provided "murderer" Martin Bryant with the weapons he allegedly used at Port Arthur.
Terry Hill was first (officially) noticed by the authorities two days after the massacre, when he recognized a picture of Martin Bryant, known to him earlier as Martin RYAN. Doing his duty as a responsible citizen, Hill immediately contacted the police and told them what little he knew about the man.
On 27th March Terry Hill and assistant Greg Peck were working at 'Guns and Ammo' in New Town when Martin Ryan entered with a package wrapped in a towel, presenting the package muzzle-first with the comment "Something is wrong with it". When Hill unwrapped the towel he found that "it" was a Dutch AR10 assault rifle fitted with a clip containing 15 rounds of high velocity .308 Winchester (7.62-mm NATO) ammunition. Terry Hill worked the action, and watched horrified as another live round ejected from the breech of the weapon.
Martin Bryant a.k.a. Martin Ryan had calmly walked into the store with a fully-loaded and unsafe assault weapon, blissfully unaware he had done anything wrong. His actions that morning demonstrated with chilling clarity that "Martin" had absolutely no idea how to load, cock, aim, fire, or unload, assault weapons of any kind. But despite his ignorance Martin Bryant presented a licence that day in the name of Martin Ryan, correctly endorsed for prohibited and fully automatic weapons. Where Martin Bryant obtained this highly unusual licence has never been properly investigated.
Having done his civic duty things went from bad to worse for Terry Hill, and he was later interrogated by Inspector Paine on the suspicion he had supplied the weapons used at Port Arthur. Inspector Paine was one of only two police officers responsible for interrogating Martin Bryant in Risdon Prison. During his extended interrogation by Inspector Paine, Hill was escorted by lawyer John Avery, the same man who later represented Martin Bryant during the phase of his incarceration when he inexplicably decided to change his plea to guilty.
That the police were determined to pressure Terry Hill into making a false confession was revealed in a letter sent to him by Avery shortly after the interrogation. In part that letter reads:-
". . . In a private conversation that was had between the writer and Inspector Paine, Inspector Paine made it abundantly clear that the police have very strong evidence to suggest that you did in fact sell guns to Bryant and unless you are prepared to in effect change your story, they will press on and try to find sufficient evidence to charge you with some offences.
" However, it was also made abundantly clear that the Director of Public Prosecutions is prepared to offer you an indemnity against prosecution if you are prepared to accept that you did sell guns to Bryant . . ."
Wisely, Terry Hill was not prepared to plead guilty to a crime he had not committed and subsequently refused to do so. Just days after his refusal Guns and Ammo was raided by the Tasmanian police in a general trawl operation, apparently aimed at trying to find sufficient evidence to charge Terry Hill with some offences. The police scored on some technicalities, Hill and his wife's gun dealer licences were revoked, and their livelihoods destroyed.
For Terry Hill the battle was not yet over. He had refused to tug his forelock or bend his knee to authority and it must have been clear the matter would not end there, which it did not. More than a year later in July 1997 Hill was suddenly served with notice of a courtaction for damages and breach of statutory duty (for allegedly selling weapons to Bryant), by a Mr. Quin, with the plaintiff's case handled by Mr. Roland Brown, solicitor and Chairman of the Coalition for Gun Control.
Solicitor Roland Brown became famous long before the massacre for his strange but remarkably prophetic comment on Channel Seven Television, quoted verbatim in 1997 by The Strategy newspaper: "We are going to see a mass shooting in Tasmania of the likes you have seen in Strathfield and Hoddle Street, unless we get national gun control laws."
In the months that followed Quin's case against Hill there was a limited amount of adverse publicity, and in November 1997 Quin's lawyers indicated that he would like to back out of the case due to stress. Unfortunately, as shown in documentation supplied to this author by Terry Hill, the Legal Aid Commission and Quin's lawyers were at that time attempting to coerce Hill into paying part or all of Quin's expenses. Had he agreed, TerryHill would have appeared to be tacitly agreeing that he had a case to answer, which he did not,so the pressure was strenuously resisted.
More months passed, and then on 5th March 1998 an official notice of discontinuation was filed in the courts, with agreement reached that Terry Hill would pay none of Quin's expenses at all. After months of intense stress for both his family and himself,gun dealer Terry Hill was once again his own man, though his personal legal fees ensured he was considerably poorer than he had been at the start of the contrived legal action.
So what can Terry Hill do now? Despite the fact that he has never been charged with any offence relating to Port Arthur, the police refuse to restore his gun dealer licence on the grounds that he, and his wife Dorothy, are not suitable people to handle firearms. This is rubbish, easily proved by the fact that shortly after the gun dealer licences were revoked, the Tasmanian police renewed both of their personal firearms licences without question. This is of course impossible if the Tasmanian police really believe Hill and his wife are not suitable people to handle firearms. Evidently Terry Hill is still being punished for his refusal to provide the police with fabricated evidence.
Policemen and politicians are not (yet) above the law, and it is clear that Terry Hill must now be given his gun dealers licence back quickly and unconditionally. The legal letter from Avery to Hill, and the sudden raid on Guns and Ammo which followed it, provide convincing proof that he was indirectly threatened by police in an attempt to acquire a false confession. Now that threat has failed, it is long past time for the Tasmanian Police Service to reverse its appalling behaviour.If it refuses to do so, Terry Hill should force the issue via the Ombudsman.
In the run-up to this sordid affair,it is fair to ask why Martin Bryant was sent into Guns and Ammo with a defective Dutch AR10. Is there any possible connection between this incident and his use as a patsy at Port Arthur by a person or persons as yet unknown? If we examine the obscure Dutch AR10 carefully, it becomes readily apparent that there might be a very tangible connection.
Whoever planned the massacre must have known there was a slight chance that patsy Martin Bryant might survive the slaughter, in which case a contingency plan was needed to link Martin Bryant to at least one of the weapons used at Port Arthur, and in turn link that same weapon to a known gun dealer as the "supplier".
The planners already knew that Bryant was severely intellectually impaired, thus a generally similar weapon would suffice for the contingency,provided that this "similar" weapon could be linked to Terry Hill as the alleged supplier. Enter the Dutch AR10, which is a full-bore (7.62-mm) version of the Colt AR15, with the latter claimed by police to be the weapon used in the Broad Arrow Cafe to kill twenty and wound another twelve. The sleight-of-hand would lie in convincing Martin Bryant that he and the Colt AR15 were in Terry Hill's shop 'Guns and Ammo' at the same time.
Apart from minor technical differences and overall bulk, the AR10 looks Identical to the AR15 at a distance, which was exactly the view Bryant had of the weapon when interrogated by Inspectors Paine and Warren on the 4th July 1996. So what was Bryant identifying, or what did he think he was identifying? Large tracts of the interrogation were censored at Bryant's pre-sentencing hearing so it is impossible to be certain about most points, but there is no ambiguity about who named the AR15 for the first time on the interrogation tape. It was not Martin Bryant.
The police interrogator says "Now this is a ahh, point two two three Remington",to which Bryant replies: "it's a mess isn't it." Still holding the weapon at a distance the police interrogator continues "Or a Colt AR15", to which Bryant replies: "Yeah, Colt." So courtesy of the police interrogator, Bryant identifies the weapon as a Colt AR15, at a distance where it would have looked exactly the same as the DutchAR10 he knew he handled in Terry Hill's store on 27th March, one month before the massacre.
It seems most unlikely the interrogators arranged this in advance, because at that stage they probably did not know about the Dutch AR10 Bryant surrendered to Terry Hill. But intentional or not the result was the same: Martin Bryant damned himself for ever by identifying the Colt AR15 used in the Cafe, when in reality he probably thought he was identifying the Dutch AR10 he had handled in Hill's store on 27 March. But he only did so after highly suggestive prompting by the interrogators, both of whom knew very well that Bryant was an intellectually impaired invalid.
That the interrogation transcripts should be censored at the pre-sentencing hearing is inexcusable. Just a single (censored) word, sentence or paragraph could have changed the entire context of the interrogation, and probably would have done if played to the court in its entirety. Why else should it be censored if suppression was not the intent? The sheer extent of the censoring is horrifying and leaves out huge quantities of information. Pages 1-9 are deleted, pages 18 and 23 are deleted, then pages 32, 35, 40, 43, 78, 79, 80 and 81 are deleted. After this pages 91 to 98 and then pages 116 to 141. From page 145 onwards the rest of the transcript is deleted in toto.
It is not possible to determine how many pages followed 145 but if we assume the interrogation ended at page 150, we get a better feel for the level of deception in the courtroom. Together, the deleted (censored) pages amount to 55 out of 150, or something like one third of the entire interrogation transcript was with- held from the court. Worse still, the prosecution then explained ". . . the quality of sound and vision are not particularly good, there was some breakdown with the recording facility and the tape has been reconstructed using the audio from an audio tape which was recorded at the same time as the original video, so there is some lack of synchronization at times and the video is not particularly good but I would now seek your Honour's leave to have this interview played to the court."
Which interview was the prosecution referring to exactly? Fully one-third of the continuous interrogation transcript had been censored i.e. excluded from evidence, and there were breakdowns in audio and sync throughout the remainder. Without fully verified continuity, Bryant's voice could have been edited-in to say almost anything anywhere on the tape,a possibility that would have ensured the video was thrown out as corrupt evidence by any other court in the western world. But not in Tasmania... Defence lawyer Mr Avery seemed unconcerned. When asked by the judge if he had any submissions regarding the editing and substitution of some of the audio tape involved, Mr Avery responded: "I was not aware of it but I am not troubled by what's proposed, your Honour."
With all of the fuss and confusion over the proposed court action it is easy to miss the most important aspect of this case. If the threats directed against Terry Hill had succeeded in intimidating him into making a false confession, the Tasmanian Government would now have patsy number one (Bryant) in jail, and patsy number two (Hill) labelled as the supplier of the weapons used at Port Arthur: All very neat and tidy. But Hill did not supply the weapons used at Port Arthur, leaving the slack Tasmanian police with a major headache. The real supplier of the weapons, and indeed the real shooter(s) at Port Arthur must now be accurately identified. If this is all too much for the police in Hobart, a Royal Commissioner must be appointed to do the job for them.
The author is an independent investigator with thirty years direct experience of international military and oilfield operations.
|Spare ammo clips:||Yes||Yes|
|Total rounds fired:||29||51|
|Total head shots:||20||1|
|Killed-to-injured:||1.66 to 1||1 to 10|
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