ACT News

Canberra court clears hurdle for Hoddle Street killer's compensation bid hearing

Julian Knight arrives at the Victorian Supreme Court in 2004.
Julian Knight arrives at the Victorian Supreme Court in 2004. Photo: John Woudsra

The ACT Supreme Court has cleared the way for the Hoddle Street killer to attempt to sue the Commonwealth over alleged assaults he suffered as a staff cadet at Duntroon.    

Julian Knight, 46, launched a bid for compensation over claims he was assaulted by other cadets on three occasions during instances of bastardisation in his first year at the military college in 1987.

In August that year, at the age of 19, he armed himself with three guns and 200 rounds of ammunition and went on a 45-minute shooting rampage in the Melbourne suburb of Clifton Hill.

Seven people were killed and 19 injured in the massacre.

Knight pleaded guilty to seven counts of murder and 46 counts of attempted murder and was sentenced to life in jail.

He claimed he suffered personal injury as a result of employer negligence at Duntroon and that the Commonwealth was responsible through a breach of its duty of care, vicarious liability, and negligence.


The mass murderer has broadened his lawsuit to include individuals he alleges assaulted him.

He is also seeking compensation as a victim of crime in the ACT Magistrates Court and unsuccessfully sought a transfer to the territory's prison system.

Knight appeared, via audiovisual link from Victoria's Port Phillip Prison, in the ACT Supreme Court on Monday. 

He had to make an application for the case to be heard out of time because so many years had passed since the alleged assaults took place.

Master David Mossop dismissed that application on grounds that parts of Knight's legal argument in his written submissions to the court were unclear.

He said Knight, who has represented himself throughout the proceedings, needed to clarify whether his claim was limited to damages related to the alleged assaults, or extended to financial loss he may have suffered as a result of losing his position in the army.

Master Mossop ordered the paperwork be sent to the ACT Bar Association so an experienced lawyer could help Knight put his argument together properly.

"I'm trying to do what I can to let the court get on and proceed with this matter," Master Mossop said.

Knight told the court he would be "grateful" for any help from the association.

Master Mossop said a date should be set for the application to be heard, as it had become clear the case would likely hinge on whether a link could be drawn between the alleged assaults and Knight's exit from Duntroon. 

Counsel representing the Commonwealth, Robert Crowe, SC, expected it would need between six to eight weeks to compile a brief of evidence. 

A two-day hearing has been set down to begin on May 4.