Peter Knight (anti-abortion activist)

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Peter James Knight
Born (1954-01-01) 1 January 1954 (age 64)
Bathurst, New South Wales
Criminal statusIn custody
MotiveChristian fundamental beliefs
Criminal penaltyLife imprisonment;
with a minimum non-parole period of 23 years

Peter James Knight (born 1 January 1954) is an Australian anti-abortion activist who shot dead a security guard in a Melbourne abortion clinic. Following his arrest and a criminal trial, Knight is serving a life sentence with a minimum non-parole period of 23 years.

Early years and background[edit]

Knight was one of six children born into a Roman Catholic family in Bathurst, New South Wales. He led a hermit's life in the years leading up to the incident[1] in a bush camp in the Killanbutta State Forest near Molong, 'off the grid' without a telephone or electricity. He did, however, frequently attend anti-abortion rallies in Sydney and Melbourne. Knight was also opposed to smoking, smokers, tobacco companies and the taking of oaths.[2]

Murder and legal proceedings[edit]

On 16 July 2001 he walked into the East Melbourne Fertility Clinic, a private abortion provider, carrying a rifle and other weapons[3] including 16 litres (3.5 imp gal; 4.2 US gal) of kerosene, three lighters, torches, 30 gags, and a handwritten note that read "We regret to advise that as a result of a fatal accident involving some members of staff, we have been forced to cancel all appointments today".

Knight later stated that he intended to massacre everyone in the clinic, and attack all Melbourne abortion clinics. He developed home made mouth gags and door jambs to restrain all patients and staff inside a clinic while he doused them with the kerosene.[4] He shot 44-year-old Stephen Gordon Rogers, a security guard, in the chest, killing him. Staff and clients overpowered him soon after. He intended to massacre the 15 staff and 26 patients at the clinic by burning them alive.[2]

For many weeks after his arrest Knight refused to answer questions or cooperate with police investigations. Due to his hermitic life, Victorian Police were unable to confirm his identity[4] until three months after his arrest, even though his photographs were published in major newspapers. According to psychiatrist Don Sendipathy, Knight interpreted the Bible in his own unique way and believed in his own brand of Christianity.[2]

After choosing to not obtain legal representation,[2] Knight was found guilty by a jury[5] and, on 19 November 2002, he was sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum non-parole period of 23 years.[2] Knight will be aged in his 70s before being eligible for parole. On 14 May 2003 Knight lodged an appeal against his conviction; however his appeal was dismissed as it was not lodged within fourteen days of his sentence, as required under the law.[6][7] He is currently serving time in HM Prison Barwon, near Geelong.

This incident is the only killing by an anti-abortion activist in Australia's history.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ R v Knight [2002] VSC 498 (19 November 2002), Supreme Court (Vic, Australia)
  2. ^ a b c d e Berry, Jamie; Munro, Ian (19 November 2002). "'Remorseless' recluse gets life". The Age. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  3. ^ "Abortion clinic guard killer jailed for life" (transcript). The World Today. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 19 November 2002. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  4. ^ a b Anderson, Paul (11 March 2014). "Deluded pro-life crusader Peter James Knight kills guard, but wanted more dead after he brought his gun and hatred to an abortion clinic in Melbourne". Herald Sun. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  5. ^ "Peter Knight guilty of abortion clinic murder". Central Western Daily. 23 April 2002. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  6. ^ R v Knight [2004] VSCA 48 (25 March 2004), Court of Appeal (Vic, Australia)
  7. ^ Iaria, Melissa (20 May 2011). "Security guard killer Peter James Knight loses appeal bid over death of Steven Rogers". Australian Associated Press. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  8. ^ "Man Convicted in Deadly Abortion Clinic Shooting". Los Angeles Times. 24 April 2002. Retrieved 3 January 2012.

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