Shock transformation: Martin Bryant’s ‘pathetic’ prison life
This is the pathetic reality of life as a mass murderer.
Twenty-five years after the Port Arthur massacre, which claimed the lives of 35 people and injured 23 others at the Tasmanian tourist site, - Martin Bryant the man who perpetrated the killings - will not be remembered as a criminal mastermind or a threatening "lone wolf" vigilante.
He will be represented as he is: an obese middle-age man of little intellect, who spends his days alone shuffling back and forth from his cell to the canteen, in the maximum security unit of Risdon Prison.
Esteemed forensic psychiatrist Professor Paul Mullen - who assessed Bryant in the aftermath of the tragedy - told News Corp Australia it was important to describe Bryant as he really is: "dim, pathetic, angry".
"This is someone who, the only way he felt he could be anything in the world, was to take revenge on the world and kill the helpless and the innocent," Prof Mullen said.
In Tasmania, Bryant's name has been wiped from the spoken word - his image so protected that in 25 years this is one of just two images of Bryant in prison to ever be seen beyond the jail's walls.
In 2015, News Corp Australia captured the first glimpse of the monster since the 1996 massacre.
At one point his weight had ballooned to 160kgs with some jailers referring to him as "Porky Pig".
News Corp Australia can reveal prison staff have been tasked with a secret mission to smuggle Bryant in and out of the jail for medical treatment, including to have his cataracts operated on before the normal day's surgery had begun.
"He was heavily guarded but they'd basically opened up the cataract clinic at whatever time of the morning he'd been taken in, I presume, around 5am …" the officer said.
"He'd been done so as to avoid any possible contact with the public and [not] run any risk of anyone seeing him. Ushered in, operated on, ushered out with no doubt a couple of patches on his eyes and then back to prison, back to his cell to recuperate, all under the cover of darkness literally, and all before the sun was up."
The former employee said Bryant spent most of his time cooped up eating two-minute noodles and chocolate - a lifestyle that's rendered him barely recognisable from the blonde youth pictured in the aftermath of the 1996 massacre.
"He declines his hourly exercise which you can tell by looking at him. He's a huge man. He's got one of those stomachs that kind of hangs down between his legs.
"He would just sit at a table on the ground floor of the unit he was in with those picnic tables that are bolted to the floor. He'd just sit there staring at a chess board.
However, despite his docile presence, Bryant was still able to unnerve staff.
"I remember being in a meeting there and feeling as if someone was looking at me. You know you can tell someone's staring at you? I just sort of turned around and looked and he was just literally staring at me and I thought, 'shit, don't like that'. I'm glad that there was a fairly thick piece of glass between us."
Originally published as Shock transformation: Martin Bryant's 'pathetic' prison life