Opinion of Allen Bartholomew

“Julian Knight - The Hoddle St Massacre” 

Opinion of Allen Bartholomew

Opinion of Allen Bartholomew


The following is the official court transcript of forensic psychiatrist Dr Allen Bartholomew's testimony in relation to Julian Knight. In addition to examining the video and audio evidence relating to Knight's case, Dr Bartholomew examined Knight in the Melbourne City Watch-House between 0940hrs-0950hrs and between 1015hrs-1145hrs on Monday the 10 th August 1987, and in Pentridge Prison's hospital for approximately 35 minutes on Saturday the 15 th August 1987; a total of around 2¼ hours of interviews. On Friday the 28 th October 1988, in the Supreme Court of Victoria at Melbourne, Dr Bartholomew testified under oath as to his opinion in relation to Knight before Mr Justice George Hampel. He was initially examined by counsel for Knight, Mr Robert Richter QC, then cross-examined by the Crown prosecutor, Mr Joe Dickson QC, and finally re-examined by Richter [Ref: Transcript of Plea: pages 73-86] .



R: Your full name is Allen Austin Bartholomew?

B: It is.

R: What are your qualifications?

B: Bachelor in Medicine and Surgery of London, the Diploma of Psychological Medicine of both England and London, the Fellowship of the Royal Australian College of Psychiatrists and a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in the United States, and Member of the Australian Psychological Society.

R: Do you hold any current positions with any government instrumentality?

B: I am working part-time at Pentridge [Prison] at the present time, Your Honour, doing reports for courts.

R: Have you spent a considerable portion of your professional life in fact working at Pentridge for the authorities?

B: Yes.

R: How long, roughly?

B: 27 years.

R: Would you agree with this proposition that of the time in your field of practice in Victoria or, indeed, in Australia, you would probably have assessed and interviewed more violent criminals, murderers, rapists, et cetera, than any other person of whom you are aware?

Justice Hampel: You do not have to be modest, Doctor.

B: I think it is about 1,800 people that have been charged with murder at one time or another.

R: You cannot think of anyone who approximates those figures?

B: I don't know but there may well be.

R: If there are, they're not known to you?

B: Not familiarly, no.

R: Is this the situation, Dr Bartholomew, that you had examined Julian Knight in fact on the morning of Monday, 10 th August [1987], the morning after the shooting?

B: That is so.

R: Indeed, you did so at the request of the police?

B: That is right.

R: And, presumably, I take it, that was for the purpose of ascertaining whether at the time he was "M'Naghten Insane" [Ref: M'Naghten's Case (1843) 10 Cl & Fin 200; 8 ER 718: R v M'Naghten [1843-1860] All ER Rep 229] , if I can use that expression, legally insane?

B: No, I think I would argue that. I think what they wanted as an opinion whether he was medically insane, whether he should go to hospital.

R: In terms of whether or not he should go to hospital, did you form a view at that stage?

B: Yes.

R: What was that view?

B: That was that he was not a candidate for hospital. Indeed, he was not medically insane.

R: At that stage?

B: Right from the beginning.

R: Why was that?

B: Because I didn't consider that he had a mental illness at that time.

R: You have also examined him on subsequent occasions?

B: On two occasions, but they were brief.

R: Did you form a view as to some sort of diagnostic label that could be attached to him?

B: Yes. I thought it was a personality disorder with some marked hysterical features.

R: Indeed, you took a history from him; is that correct?

B: I spent a total of an hour and a half with him, Your Honour, and I took a history which would be achieved in that sort of time.

R: And you have sat through here and heard the material put before His Honour?

B: Yes.

R: Tell me this: if one were to use a lay expression rather than a precise medical term, would you have described him as "crazy" at the time - in a lay sense?

B: Yes.

R: Albeit not in a medical sense?

B: Exactly.

R: Is that because the medical labels I suppose are not as precise as weighing someone on a scale and saying he was 65 kilograms?

B: In many things that would be true.

R: As far as his intelligence was concerned, did you form a view about his intelligence?

B: At that time I said at least of average intelligence.

R: Do you now accept that he certainly has a more superior intelligence?

B: I understand 130 or thereabouts.

R: You have also had occasion to discuss him with Dr Byrne and others, I take it?

B: Very little with Dr Byrne. I only realized he was in the case last night.

R: Have you discussed him with other people interested in the psychiatric aspects of the case?

B: I have with Pentridge people.

R: And the history that we have given in terms of his confinement to hospital and depressed state, suicidal tendencies, is that consistent with your observations?

B: On my notes I have written with an asterisk that he was suicidal; that was on the 10 th [August 1987].

R: Did you form a view of the level of maturity, emotional maturity at the time of the shootings?

B: I thought it was diminished. He was inadequate in many ways.

R: Could you tell His Honour whether, with your experience, within a period of some years from now you would be able to ascertain with reasonable clarity whether or not he has "flipped" over into medical psychiatric illness?

B: Yes, I would say without any doubt in, say, five years time you could do that.

R: And your experience with the Parole Board - I take it you have reported to the Parole Board on many occasions?

B: Very many.

R: And you are familiar with the sort of procedures that they would employ in making a decision whether to release a person?

B: Yes, I know it well.

R: Say, in twenty years time, would there be sufficient material to indicate with great precision whether or not he is dangerous to release in twenty, twenty-five years?

B: Again, with the caution uttered by Dr Byrne - one can't predict the future - yes, I would say you would make a very good stab at it in twenty, twenty-five years time.

R: Do you believe if there was any doubt, having regard to what he has actually done, if there was any doubt in twenty, twenty-five years time about his dangerousness - do you believe that a decision would be made to release him?

B: I would think it is most unlikely. In fact, it is just not on.

R: That is certainly blunt. You simply would not conceive of it?

B: I can't conceive of it.

R: From what you have heard of him, of his history, of various tests and so on and from your own observations, is he a person who can be reformed and matured?

B: You are using the words "to be reformed" all the time - to be reformed. Over a period of time and accepting the diagnosis of a personality disorder, which I believe it to be essentially, there will be a degree of maturity over a period of time. That's nothing to do with what someone does to him; it will either happen or it won't.

R: If it happens, you would be able to say it has happened, I take it?

B: I think you would be able to say that with a fair amount of certainty.

R: If it hasn't happened?

B: Then it clearly has not happened. I would disagree with the proposition that 30 is an age of particular maturity. Most people say 40, 45 but I think there are many, Your Honour, that don't mature in the sense that their behaviour still stays very psychopathic. There are problems in diagnosis at this level because a number of people, instead of being aggressively psychopathic, become institutionalized and apathetic and it is almost as difficult to cope in society with that condition as it is with any other.

R: You have experience with people like Dumas? [Ref: R v Dumas [1988] VR 65]

B: I gave evidence in that case, yes.

R: How would you compare the sort of risk factors of a repeat offence as between someone like Dumas and someone like Julian Knight?

B: I would simply say with Dumas that I would agree with Dr Byrne, he had brain damage from infancy and operations and so on. Dumas I say is almost certain to be in strife in the community. I am not saying murder necessarily, Your Honour, but serious strife, whereas, in the case of this prisoner, you couldn't say he would do it again in 25 years time.

R: Are you familiar with the cases like the Russell Street bombing and the like, psychiatrically speaking?

B: Not psychiatrically speaking. I know of the case, of course.

R: Do you know the people involved?

B: Not particularly. I know the names.

R: By and large, in terms of a criminal background, do you agree that Julian Knight does not have that sort of criminal background or any sort of criminal background of prior convictions?

B: Only a very minor matter.

R: Is that significant in terms of reformation, rehabilitation, the fact that he doesn't have a history?

B: He has had difficulty in his past and in his youth and they have been spoken of in this court. It makes me feel that the label of personality disorder is appropriate. And I would not even cavel with the proposition of psychopathy although it is a word going out of fashion; it is not in the text books at the moment, the modern text books. Clearly, the more patently psychopathic one is, the worse the prognosis, and I would have said that this man, this prisoner, is not grossly psychopathic.

R: The concept of psychopathy - what does that, in fact, involve in terms of personality?

B: 'Immaturity' is one simple word you can use, somebody who wants immediate gratification - self-centred, doesn't learn from experience particularly well, indifferent to other people's feelings. A sense of remorse is significantly absent in many cases but I would here enter a word of caution, Your Honour, that the word 'remorse' is very different when you are dealing with a chap who is in prison and comes into this court at some stage or other where you can be very remorseful when you are there, quite apart from what you have done to get you there.

R: When discussing the events of the shooting in August 1987, on 15 August [1987] you had an interview with him; was he weeping hysterically?

B: Yes, he was more or less curled up in a corner of a completely empty ward or cell almost in a sort of fetal position holding on to his head and - not just crying - screaming.

R: Yes?

B: He was hysterical and suddenly it stopped.

R: Did that appear genuine?

B: If it wasn't genuine, it was a superb performance.

R: With your experience, I take it you would opt for the genuineness rather than...?

B: I have no doubt, no sensible doubt.

R: Now, there is one issue that I want to put to you and it is this: once he had fired the first shot?

B: Yes.

R: Once that had happened, is there some sort of element of additional criminal psychiatric nastiness to the fact that he continued to fire until he ran out of ammunition?

B: Not to me.

R: Was it breaking of the barrier to pull the trigger the first time which is of significance to you as a psychiatrist?

B: I would see it as a total ongoing piece of behaviour and the first shot is the beginning, and it will go on until it stops or their ammunition runs out or apprehension takes place or whatever it may be or death.

R: Given his personality, it was to go on until one of those things happened?

B: I think there is a tendency for behaviour to do that in general terms, but once you start on something you tend to finish it unless something causes you to change your mind or stops you.

R: Would you be able to say he had sort of switched into some kind of military mode, given his history and background?

B: Yes, it is not an unfair way of putting it. It is always difficult using analogies in this sort of area. I don't know that he was really firing the bullets and the shotgun or what have you in a fantasy. I have got huge doubts about that, and frankly you can only ask him if he did have a fantasy. There is no other way of doing it. What I think we are trying to say is, it was as though it was in a fantasy and he had a slightly modified consciousness of what was going on probably, which correlates with an hysterical type personality and he may well have had some degree of disassociation, but not enough to form a defence.

R: Thank you.


D: Well, I take it from that, doctor, that he didn't say anything to you on the morning of the 10 th of August [1987] when you first saw him about fantasizing?

B: No.

D: Or delusion?

B: Certainly not.

D: No invasions of Hoddle Street by people or anything like that?

B: I have only heard it today.

D: And did you ask him why he did it?

B: Why he?

D: Why he had done what he had done?

B: I asked him but I didn't get any real understanding of why he had done it?

D: Was he able to try and give you any real understanding of why he had done it?

B: No. What he did was simply clearly get very excited, almost of exultation, was the word I think I used when describing that. He wanted to go into a stress situation or a combat situation and have firings at him and he at others. I had some reservations about even that. Because I asked him on one occasion if he really wanted to die, why didn't he shoot once at the police and then stand up and say, "It's me" and give them the chance to fire back, and the answer he gave, which was, I thought, witty, and yet not unreasonable, was "We are taught to duck in the army".

D: "We are taught to duck"?

B: To duck, in other words they couldn't shoot him, he would duck.

D: So he was obviously - if that is accurate - took into account his teaching in the army - he was obviously operating at a fair sort of a level?

B: To my belief he was.

D: And indeed it would appear, as we understand the evidence, that he started the shooting with a .22 rifle then he worked his way up to a shotgun and then the high powered rifle?

B: That's right.

D: And there may well be some logic in that, that he was demonstrating?

B: Could be. I wouldn't make a point of it.


R: Perhaps with Your Honour's leave, there was one thing I omitted to ask that I intended to. I take it you watched the videotapes of the reconstruction and of his confession and listened to the audio tapes that were made of him?

B: Yes, I did. I saw that at the St Kilda police complex.

R: And did his manner strike you as if it had been a sort of military debriefing almost?

B: I used that work in my report in fact.

R: And was that significant to you, the manner that he had on the tape?

B: It did two things as far as I was concerned. It made me quite satisfied he was not mentally ill.

R: In the sense in which you describe which would be medically?

B: Medically, yes, and if you are competent medically then you are not likely to be McNaughten [Ref: M'Naghten's Case (1843) 10 Cl & Fin 200; 8 ER 718: R v M'Naghten [1843-1860] All ER Rep 229] . And the other was that it was remarkably "laid back" to my mind anyhow which would fit in with some concept of some degree of disassociation.

R: Yes. Do you believe that he is anxious to know why it is he did what he did?

B: I am sure he does.

R: Thank you.


A transcript of Julian Knight's plea in the Supreme Court (Case No T557/1988) consisting of 118 pages and costing $306.80, is available from; Transcript Services Victorian Government Reporting Service

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Tel: (03) 9603 2401
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Internet: www.justice.vic.gov.au/vgrs


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