Julian Knight (born 4 March 1968) is an Australian mass murderer. On 9 August 1987, he shot dead seven people and injured 19 during a shooting spree in Clifton Hill, Victoria, Australia, in what became known in Australian history as the Hoddle Street massacre.
Knight is currently serving seven consecutive life sentences with non-parole period of 27 years. At the time of sentencing Victoria had no provision for life imprisonment without parole, also as Knight was aged between 18 and 21 at the time, he was classed as a young offender, meaning the sentencing judge had to give more weight to his prospects of rehabilitation. The judge who sentenced him, Justice George Hampel, stated that there were "a number of mitigatory factors" including his age and "prospects of rehabilitation".
Knight currently resides in the maximum security Port Phillip Prison in Truganina, Victoria near Melbourne and was eligible for parole in 2014; however, the Victorian government has stated that it is "unlikely" Knight will ever be released.
Julian Knight is the eldest of three children. He was adopted by a family with strong army ties when he was 10 days old. His adoptive father was not a highly trained army officer, as reported by the press, but an army education officer who taught literacy and numeracy, and later Chinese, to soldiers.
Knight moved often as a child, living in Melbourne and Puckapunyal, and also abroad in Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore. In early 1975, Knight's family settled in Laverton, Victoria, and he attended Laverton Primary School until the end of 1978. His parents divorced in 1980, when Knight was 12. He subsequently attended Westbourne Grammar School, Fitzroy High School and later Melbourne High School, a selective secondary school with entry by academic examination. An entry written by students in the 1985 Melbourne High School yearbook says: Julian 'Swapo' Knight inherited the role of "cadet unit looney and chief political agitator". While at Westbourne he was noted for his fascination with guns and the military, with strong interests in Nazi Germany and the war. In 1986 he attended La Trobe University to study French, German history and politics. Knight has an IQ of 132, well above average.
Knight joined the Army Cadets at the age of 14, and served in two cadet units, the Norwood High School Cadet Unit and the Melbourne HSCU.
Knight enlisted in the Army Reserve at the age of 17 while still in high school. He served as a trooper in an armoured reconnaissance unit, the 4th/19th Prince of Wales's Light Horse Regiment.
Knight entered the Royal Military College, Duntroon on 13 January 1987, at the age of 18. While a military career had long been a dream, he performed poorly at studies and gained good results only in weapons expertise exercises.
Hoddle Street massacre
On the evening of Sunday, 9 August 1987 Knight began a shooting spree in Hoddle Street in the Melbourne suburb of Clifton Hill. The shootings resulted in the deaths of seven people, and serious injury to 19 others. After a police chase lasting more than 30 minutes, Knight was captured in nearby Fitzroy North and arrested for the shootings.
During the trial, Dr Bartholomew stated that Knight has a personality disorder with hysterical features. Knight was sentenced to seven consecutive terms of life imprisonment with a non-parole period of 27 years for committing the crime.
Knight is currently an inmate in the mainstream section of the maximum security Port Phillip Prison near Melbourne, Victoria. He has initiated many legal challenges to the Victorian government while imprisoned. Knight's challenges often concern events and occurrences arising during his imprisonment and his dissatisfaction with prison management and prison discipline. He has spent 12 years of his sentence in High Security management facilities.
In 1995 Knight obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Deakin University. Although he majored in strategic and defence studies, he also completed sub-majors in international relations, political studies, journalism and psychology. Since then he has undertaken courses in information technology, hospitality, engineering, horticulture, cleaning, fitness and first aid.
In 2000 in Barwon Prison, Knight found a fellow prisoner who had hanged himself, and tried to revive him. He later had three days taken off his sentence for meritorious conduct.
Despite being eligible for parole in 2014, the Victorian Parliament passed the Corrections Amendment (Parole) Bill 2014 to ensure that Julian Knight would never be eligible for parole unless "the parole board is satisfied that he is in imminent danger of death or seriously incapacitated and as a result that he lacks the capacity to harm another".
On 7 September 1992, Knight appeared before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal seeking a review of a decision where he was refused AUSTUDY assistance with his university studies while imprisoned.
On 22 October 2001, Knight appeared before the Supreme Court of Victoria in his first Supreme Court case against the prison authorities. He sought an injunction ordering that prison authorities return documents prepared for the inquest into the death of the prisoner who had hanged himself in 2000. The documents were returned in court that day and the application was dismissed.
On 4 July 2002, Knight appeared before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) with a complaint regarding an abuse of human rights where prison officers removed items "of a political nature" from his cell. The items removed were a collection of business cards, pamphlets and sheets of paper.
One sheet of the paper had a large picture of Adolf Hitler in uniform. A second had a picture of Hitler with Nazi insignia and skull and cross-bones and others only the insignia. The cards featured slogans such as "Stop the Asian invasion", "We just hate all queers", "White power" and "Dial-a-racist" with contact details.
Along with the posters and paperwork, a large amount of contraband items were also located in Knight's cell, such as blades, sharpened knives, articles associated with the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazi Party, magazines, book and articles on weapons and war, medication bottles, a leather belt, two television remote controls, an extension lead, a can opener, bale hooks, permanent markers, computer disks - many containing information relating to prison security and staff, pornographic material, sandpaper, masking tape, prison manuals, staff pictures, T.A.B. betting information, and prison and staff rosters. Knight's application was dismissed, even though many of the seized items were returned to him.
On 21 August 2002, Knight appeared before the Supreme Court of Victoria seeking an injunction ordering that prison management and staff cease inspecting and withholding legal mail sent to or by the plaintiff. The application was dismissed.
On 2 September 2002, Knight appeared before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal seeking access to various prison documents under the Freedom of Information Act. On 9 September, Knight appeared before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal seeking "Full access to the daily staff rosters for HM Prison Barwon since the 1st May 2001" under the Freedom of Information Act. The application was affirmed.
On 7 October 2003, Knight appeared before the Supreme Court of Victoria seeking injunctions in regards to opening of private legal mail, prison disciplinary hearings, conditions in solitary confinement cells and Knight's security classification and imprisonment in Barwon Prison's high security Acacia wing. Supreme Court Judge Justice Philip Cummins said of Knight's application, "I consider that ordinary tax-payers should not be fixed with the burden of these proceedings. Accordingly, in each instance I order that the costs of the proceedings of the respective defendants be paid by the plaintiff.". The application was dismissed.
On 11 November 2003, Knight appeared before the Supreme Court of Victoria seeking an extension of time against a decision of VCAT. The application was dismissed with costs awarded against the applicant.
On 26 November 2013, Knight made a 94-page submission to the Defence Abuse Response Task Force (DART). In 2014 he initiated court proceedings in the ACT Supreme Court against the Commonwealth of Australia seeking damages for the bastardization he allegedly suffer whilst at Duntroon. ACT Supreme Court Case number 176 of 2014
In February 2003, it was estimated the many legal challenges by Knight had cost the Victorian Government over A$250,000 and approximately $128,000 had been spent since October 2001 on external legal advice to deal with Knight's legal appeals and Freedom Of Information requests.
On 19 October 2004, Knight was barred from launching any further legal action in Victoria's courts for 10 years with a judge declaring him a vexatious litigant. He was only the 13th person to be declared a vexatious litigant in Victoria since 1930, and the first prisoner. Knight is still able to make requests under the Freedom Of Information Act.
On 19 June 2008, Knight made a submission to the Victorian Parliament Law Reform Committee's Inquiry into Vexatious Litigants.
Requests for rehabilitation
On 26 June 2007, Knight told the Supreme Court of Victoria he wants access to rehabilitation programs in prison to improve his chance of parole. He also sought permission to write a letter of "apology and explanation" to one of his victims. The court heard prison authorities intercepted a letter Knight tried to send to one of his victims. He was charged with two prison offences and spent six days in solitary confinement. Knight told the court a letter of apology did not fit the prison guidelines for a prohibited letter. Stating "A letter of apology constitutes a facet of my rehabilitation and on a small measure of making amends for my actions," he told the court. Knight was given leave by the Court to proceed with his case. In June 2009, Knight sued Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls to force him to appear before the Supreme Court and to remove his status as a "vexatious litigant". He also claims the status "is being used as an instrument of oppression by Corrections Victoria" and says his request for access to a personal computer in his cell was denied.
On the 20th anniversary of the Hoddle Street massacre, the judge who sentenced Knight, Professor George Hampel, stood by the sentence he gave him.
The Hoddle Street massacre has been the subject of a number of books and book chapters, and two Australian TV documentaries: ABC TV's award-winning Hoddle Street (1988) and GTV Channel 9's Hoddle Street (2007).