AS an angelic-looking child, Martin Bryant was already displaying the telltale behavioural signs of a future killer.
Port Arthur massacre gunman Martin Bryant in hospital aged 12 told a reporter after setting himself alight with fireworks that he would do it again.
For one, he had an obsession with fire.
When he ended up in hospital after setting himself alight with fireworks the 12-year-old calmly told a news reporter he would still play with them. Neighbours also claimed he had set fire to a hospital as a boy.
Another problematic behaviour Bryant displayed was cruelty to animals.
With his air rifle, Bryant loved to shoot birds and other fauna near his Tasmanian home and then delight in watching them die and pumping extra slugs into their bodies.
Sure enough, the blue-eyed blond-haired boy grew up to become a lonely young man obsessed with weapons.
Late on a Sunday morning in April 1996, the 28-year-old Bryant took his guns and killed 35 people. At the time he was the world’s most deadly lone gunman.
Bryant clearly had two key behavioural traits of what is known as the Macdonald Triad, a combination of three factors which claim to predict the early behaviour of future mass or serial killers.
The third factor in the Macdonald Triad is bed-wetting past the age of five – although it’s not known whether Bryant displayed this trait.
US psychiatrist John Macdonald, who first described the homicidal triad, argued that a prospective killer required a combination of two or all three factors.
Bed wetting was the most controversial of McDonald’s proposed traits, with psychologists and criminologists now discounting this, saying it is cruel to tarnish children who suffer from this condition with the suggested blight of future violence.
It is certainly clear that many children who bed wet are not destined for a life in any way associated with violent crime.
In the years since McDonald put forward his theory, researchers have agreed that many violent offenders do indeed show these traits in childhood – although it is rare for an offender to show all three.
But Macdonald found that more aggressive and psychotic people were more likely to have a history of fire-setting, cruelty to animals and persistent bed-wetting past a certain age than subjects who were not aggressive or psychotic.
Later reserach found that all of these traits were also linked to childhood abuse and neglect and that this in turn made children prone to homicidal tendencies.
The Macdonald Triad also gave rise to other homicidal triads theories.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) developed its own triad, which paired being abused as a child and reacting by torturing animals, as giving rise to becoming violent to humans.
Some of the world’s worst killers are known to have displayed these traits.
Categorised in: Serial Killers
This post was written by Nadia Vella