Image for No body, no weapon, no witnesses. Inquiry into murder conviction essential, says QC

Eminent barrister Chester Porter QC is the latest to voice his concerns about the murder conviction of Sue Neill-Fraser, currently serving a 23 year jail term in Hobart.

Porter, who was Counsel Assisting the Lindy Chamberlain Morling Royal Commission, said: “There are serious doubts about the guilt of Susan Neill-Fraser, so much so, that an enquiry into the case is essential to restore confidence in Tasmanian justice.”

Neill-Fraser was convicted in 2010 of murdering Bob Chappell, her partner of 18 years, on board their yacht, Four Winds, anchored in the Derwent River, on Australia Day 2009. No body has been found. No murder weapon was presented in court. No witnesses gave evidence that Neill-Fraser murdered Chappell – which she vehemently denies.

Porter’s comments come after being informally briefed on the case and viewing the documentary, Shadow of Doubt, by Melbourne filmmaker and psychologist Eve Ash, which examines the police investigation and its alleged shortcomings. The film’s only Sydney screening will be held at the Chauvel Cinema, November 5, 6.30pm, where Porter will be a key speaker, joining Ash and the Neill-Fraser family’s post-trial legal adviser, Barbara Etter APM.

Robert Richter QC has also expressed grave concerns about the case, and has written to Tasmanian Attorney-General Brian Wightman urging a review. He said “If half of what is alleged [in the film] is well founded, this case requires a full judicial inquiry into the investigation and prosecution of the case. There’s no dingo, but there’s significant DNA and other evidentiary material to require answers which are not circumscribed by the adversarial and limited appellate processes.”

(Richter’s reference to the appellate processes refers to the appeal to Tasmania’s Court of Criminal Appeal which was rejected and the application for special leave to appeal to the High Court which was not granted.)

Dr Robert N. Moles, former Associate Professor of law, has investigated alleged miscarriages of justice for 30 years, and is the co-author of Forensic Investigations and Miscarriages of Justice (Irwin Law, Toronto, 2010): “In the book, I set out the law on miscarriages of justice in Australia. I can say with confidence that the conviction of Sue Neill-Fraser does not comply with the Australian law on this topic.”

After viewing Shadow of Doubt, Bill Rowlings OAM, CEO, Civil Liberties Australia, said: “Police filter the truth. Forensic science is abused … A miscarriage of justice so blatant you won’t believe it possible in 21st century Australia.”

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