Members of the SOG squad in Port Arthur on April 28, 1996. Edited extract from Sons of God, by Heath O’loughlin, published by Macmillan Australia, RRP $34.99.
whether he had a hostage in front of him or not. Sierra was faced with a choice that would have had enormous consequences. In his sights was Australia’s worst mass murderer, and he had the opportunity to take him down and end the madness on behalf of all
screaming because the flames consumed them. Then, still screaming and on fire, the person turned to face me and ripped their burning clothes off. I could see a penis and that’s when I knew it was a male. I now knew who I was looking at and got a clear view of his face. It was Bryant.
We don’t get paid to take lives in the SOG; we get paid to save them and put criminals like Bryant before the courts. But I have to admit, when I had Bryant’s head quartered in my sights, I was fully prepared to take the shot had it been justified. Haze When I first glimpsed Bryant, he was a pathetic figure. He looked dazed and confused. He didn’t react when he saw us approaching. Mojo Bryant wasn’t even complaining of the burns. It was all a bit strange. He was away with the fairies. Take away what happened at Port Arthur and even just focus on Seascape, I mean this bloke has just come out of a burning building that almost collapsed around him because he stayed in there a hell of a long time—but there was just no substance to him. He showed no malice towards anyone, just a stupid, jovial attitude. It was just another day to him. The birds were singing, the sun was coming up and he was just staring at us.
Sierra left his sniper position and ran down to assist with the arrest, and there he came face-toface with Bryant. [ Hostage Glenn Pears was killed by Bryant before the fire began.] Sierra We arrested him like the SOG arrests people. He had just killed more than 30 people, including children, and we weren’t about to treat him with kid gloves. He was writhing in pain and rolling around on the ground after the flames had been extinguished, but we didn’t make it any more comfortable for him. I looked down and he was just laughing. I remember staring into his piercing, chilling blue eyes. There was nothing there, just emptiness. It was so eerie and disconcerting for me. That’s something that will stay with me forever.
Days after the siege, Haze and Sierra were in a car listening to talkback radio on 3AW when host Neil Mitchell began to take calls about the Port Arthur tragedy from listeners around the country. Haze People were complaining because we didn’t shoot Bryant and only arrested him. We don’t shoot naked, unarmed, pathetic individuals. We’d acted in the most professional way, but still got criticised. We don’t act on anger, grudges or personal benefit; we look at things objectively and deal with them case by case.
As Sierra and the men grappled with the shootings, they thought about the victims, particularly the children Bryant had killed. Sierra When I got home, I gave my baby a big hug and it meant that much more.
“I looked down and he was just laughing” —Sierra NEVER FORGOTTEN The massacre began in the Broad Arrow Cafe, where Carolyn Loughton was having lunch with daughter Sarah, 15. Sarah was murdered. “He came down and he was killing people,” Carolyn told WHO. “I still have nightmares.”
The Port Arthur historic site (in 2016). “The brain could not cope with what we were seeing,” survivor Peter Crosswell told WHO.
The Broad Arrow Cafe (on May 2, 1996) where 20 people were killed.