Martin Bryant

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Martin Bryant


Martin Bryant killed 35 people on April 28, 1996 in what is known as the Port Arthur Massacre. He is serving 35 life sentences in prison.


Martin Bryant was born on May 17, 1967, in Tasmania, Australia. He had a low I.Q. and received a disability pension after graduation. He worked as a handyman for a wealthy woman and she left him her entire estate when she died in 1993. On April 28, 1996, he shot and killed 35 people using a semi-automatic weapon. He was caught on April 29 and received 35 life sentences in prison.

Early Life

Mass murderer Martin Bryant was born on May 17, 1967, in Tasmania, Australia. Bryant killed 35 people and injured 19 others in Tasmania in 1996 in what has since been called "The Port Arthur Massacre." Even as a child, he seemed odd, often detached from the people around him. While in school, Bryant was discovered to have a substantially below average I.Q. So low in fact that he qualified for a disability pension after completing school.

Bryant did find work, however, as a handyman for Helen Harvey, a rich heiress to a lottery fortune. The two became close and there has been some speculation regarding the nature of their relationship. Whatever the case, she left Bryant her entire estate after she died in a car accident in 1993. He was a passenger in the vehicle and some reports indicate that he was investigated as to whether he played a role in the crash.

Also around this time, Bryant’s father committed suicide under mysterious circumstances at the family’s home. He drowned himself wearing one of Bryant’s diving weight belts around his neck. Bryant reportedly showed little emotion over the loss of his father.

Odd Behavior

With the money from Harvey’s estate, Bryant lived well, residing in a mansion in Hobart. Neighbors later reported that he threatened to shoot them if they trespassed on his property. He also kept a strange schedule of sleeping all day and wandering around outside at night. Several visitors to the home described it and its owner as "creepy." Bryant wasn’t far from the popular destination of Port Arthur, which houses the ruins of an old prison. In 1996, he began visiting the port in the months before the attack.

Port Arthur Massacre

On the afternoon of April 28, 1996, Bryant entered a café on the historical site’s grounds, carrying a large duffle bag. He sat down and ate a meal. Once he finished, Bryant took out a semi-automatic rifle and began shooting his fellow patrons. Within a matter of seconds, he had killed 20 people and left 15 wounded. He continued with his murderous spree, shooting at people in the parking lot and from his car while he drove away. He stole another car and killed the driver. He locked the passenger in the trunk of the car.

Shooting several others along the way, Bryant traveled to the Seascape Cottage, a nearby guest house. He lit the stolen car on fire and took his hostage inside. The police soon arrived and tried to negotiate with Bryant for several hours before the battery in Bryant’s phone died, cutting off communication.

The next morning, Bryant set the house ablaze. He came running out with his clothing on fire. The police apprehended him, and he was treated for burns on his back and buttocks. After the fire, three bodies were discovered in the home. It appeared that the owners, David and Sally Martin, had been killed before the rampage, and the third victim was killed sometime during the negotiations with the police.

Deadly Legacy

On that one deadly day, Bryant had killed 35 people, including a woman and her two young children, and left another 19 injured. Australians were shocked and horrified by the crime and many fought to make changes in the country’s gun laws. Bryant was later tried and convicted; he received 35 life sentences. He is currently housed at Tasmania’s Risdon Prison, where he has attempted suicide six times during his incarceration.

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