Image for Catastrophic failure of justice system in Sue Neill-Fraser case

‘Sue Neill-Fraser’s murder conviction is a wrongful conviction’, says Dr Bob Moles one of Australia’s foremost experts on miscarriages of justice. Chester Porter QC, Robert Richter QC, Stuart Tipple and other top Australian legal minds are alarmed by this case. It is a catastrophic failure of our justice system in Tasmania and Australia.

Sue did not get a fair trial – and her appeals against her conviction were dismissed on grounds that do not stand scrutiny. Anyone who says ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ or ‘plenty of other evidence’ has not looked closely at this case with logic and clear thinking. Justice Blow’s sentencing comments and the CCA decision cannot be relied on as they simply reinforce the speculation and lack of evidence. And the High Court and the Coroner were wrong to dismiss this case as if Sue was some kind of convict not worthy of any careful consideration.

But will the Tasmanian Attorney-General, The Hon. Dr Vanessa Goodwin, MP be brave enough to act in the interests of justice and consider Sue’s last avenue of hope, a Petition for Mercy, openly and positively when those before her turned a blind eye? Or will the fear of whistleblowing in Tasmania remain as a powerful undercurrent? There is a lot to lose when this case is opened up to scrutiny – glaring mistakes, alarming omissions and shocking assumptions.

Another petition – for participation by the general public - has been running at change.org, where hundreds of outraged people have left comments. Here is a small sample of the people speaking up for a fair go for Sue Neill-Fraser:

VICTORIA

• Give Sue a fair go, and show the world that Australia is a just and fair nation.
• If there is a chance that Sue is innocent, she shouldn’t be in prison. All the other evidence needs to be followed up.
• As an Australian, I want to believe and trust in our justice system, this case is disheartening and it’s my opinion that in this case, justice has not been served and it must be looked at again.
• This is important to me because it could happen to anyone. The police investigation looks lazy and inept. At the very least doubt must have been in the minds of the jury.
• Sue Neill-Fraser’s conviction and long-term imprisonment is a travesty of justice. 23 years?? No body. No weapon. This needs to be investigated at the highest government level because something is definitely wrong with this trial.
• This woman appears to have been convicted on the basis of suspicion, speculation and straight out tunnel-vision. What evidence is there of a murder and how could the speculation run to how the ‘victim’ was murdered ie hit over the head with a wrench
• This looks like the worst case of injustice since the Lindy Chamberlain case. Sue Neill-Fraser seems to have been convicted on absolutely no evidence. A Commission of Inquiry is urgently needed.

NSW

• The murder conviction seems entirely unsafe; a miscarriage of justice so profound would be not only devastating for an innocent person but if not investigated would be a profound blot on Tasmania’s justice system.
• Too much doubt, too many unanswered questions, lack of compelling evidence.
• I am beyond shocked that this incredible injustice can happen in modern day Australia.  Something needs to be done about this.  The police have made their one and only suspect fit the crime instead of investigating the evidence - what a horrible situation
• I don’t know whether she is innocent or guilty, but I know she should not have been brought to trial on evidence, that did not exist, and other evidence that was not submitted, let alone convicted.
• Sometimes the justice system itself needs to be put ‘on trial’ to make sure it continues to work properly. The Sue Neill-Fraser case looks like one of those occasions where a miscarriage of justice could lead to systemic improvements.
• This case makes a mockery of justice in our country!
• It seems to me that this investigation was deeply flawed and the way that so-called evidence was presented, both in court and via media, was aimed at instilling a false picture of events. A re-opening of the investigation and a review of police and court.

QLD

• It doesn’t leave you with a lot of confidence when you are at the mercy of the legal system after seeing a case like this. It’s disturbing and frustrating to believe that so many leads are ignored because of some pre-conceived belief.
• Every Australia has the right to a fair trial. This has obviously not been the case here. I think she deserves to have an inquest at the very least.
• This case is a disgrace. How çan someone be put away for so long without any evidence? And where is the body? Helloooo ...........

SA

• It is critical that everyone receives a fair trial and it would appear that this was far from fair in almost every way, starting with the police investigation.  Truly a disgrace and action must be taken immediately to right this terrible wrong.
• No man or woman should spend a day in prison for a crime where there is no evidence of a crime in the first place, and no evidence that person had any part to play in the crime if it did happen.
• The conviction is as unsafe as one can imagine
• Too often the police make the evidence fit their own theories and ignore compelling evidence to the contrary. Time for all States to offer an English style Criminal Review System.

WA

• There is absolutely no way someone should be convicted on circumstantial evidence alone, people should be innocent until proven guilty. Not only this but that evident lack of objectivity in the Tasmania police investigation is absolutely appalling.
• There appears to have been a gross miscarriage of justice here.

TAS
• Too many unanswered questions and why wasn’t Sue granted bail?
• No body, no weapon, no witness - what sort of justice do we have here???
• Susan has been regarded as guilty until proved innocent by the law and this is a dangerous situation. No body! Unbelievable and we do not want a precedent set.
• This legal case has shattered my trust in Tasmanian criminal justice system.
• This is a gross failure of justice from the Tasmanian Police all the way to the application to the High Court of Australia. This is a systemic failure of the Judiciary to be able to reveal the truth of the matter.  Justice is important to society.
• Too many facts were overlooked/dismissed by the police ...
• It appears there has been an obscene miscarriage of justice in this case. Our legal system and our police department appear to have let down the community, and more especially Sue Neill-Fraser and her family, really badly on this matter.
• The injustice is frightening for all of us and for Sue and her family it must be rectified.
• I utterly cannot understand how some one can be convicted without direct evidence?
• I believe Tasmanian judges take too much of what Police and Prosecutors allege on face value, and this is a classic case of this.
• Because I want to see that justice is done, and seen to be done.They did not prove murder, let alone that Sue did it.
• This is important as it sets a precedent for future alleged murders. Tasmanian laws must change not to mention that potentially an innocent woman may be languishing in prison for a crime she did not commit.
• The evidence in this case does not support a verdict of guilty without reasonable doubt. Justice must be upheld and must be seen.
• It is another Chamberlain case, where the big wigs won’t admit they got it wrong.
• There’s too much room for doubt.
• This is a total miscarriage of justice.  After seeing Shadow of Doubt it is evident that not all the evidence was presented and the police investigation was narrow and grossly inadequate.
• I believe that the proceedings of the trial showed that many things were not followed up by police and that Ms Neill-Fraser was put in the position of trying to prove innocence rather than the prosecution proving ’ beyond a shadow of doubt ’
• With no body, no weapon, no eye-witness and no motive, there is great doubt surrounding this conviction. An injustice and concern for all Tasmanians.
• Miscarriage of justice, tunnel vision in investigations, presumed evidence
• Sue, and therefore anybody else, deserves a fair trial with investigations into every detail.
• Because I can’t understand how a jury could find her guilty beyond a shadow of doubt and how she could be then given such a long sentence. We all must be fearful of our justice system - this could be me - this could be you.
• Because I think it was a stitch up job, the boys club made a decision she was guilty and that is the only way they would treat the case.
• To see that justice is done in Tasmania for if it isn’t, we are all under threat.
• This miscarriage of justice needs to be rectified.
• I believe the legal system in Australia, and probably the world is a mockery of the truth. In particular the Common law which perpetuates mistakes and corruption.
• From the start, the evidence has seemed to be largely circumstantial, and not terribly strong. I have had doubts about the verdict since the trial. I know I am not privy to all the evidence, but I do believe that there is potentially a miscarriage of justice.
• Ms Neill-Fraser did not receive a fair trial. It’s like Lindy Chamberlain all over again. Making facts fit circumstances. Commission of Inquiry is the only way forward for justice.
• As I understand it, we don’t even know if Bob Chappell is dead. And new evidence obviously has come to light that suggests the presence on the boat of at least one other person at or around the time of the disappearance.
• This appears to be a complete miscarriage of justice and must be challenged.
• It is increasingly evident that there has been a most serious miscarriage of justice as a consequence of at best, police ineptitude ...
• This should be an important case for every citizen of Australia.  I believe that the evidence must be compelling and without doubt for a conviction such as this.  The evidence is not compelling and it worries me that we could let this happen in our time.
• This could have been anyone in Tasmania.
• Tasmania Police and the Tasmanian courts are very poor standard.
• I don’t know whether she is innocent or guilty, but I know she should not have been brought to trial on no evidence, let alone convicted.
• As a Tasmanian, I think the legal system should be respected but in cases like this, residents don’t have faith in the system.  This case has gone worldwide and makes Tasmania look “silly”.

Sue’s case must be re-opened for investigation. Mistakes must be exposed and fixed by the State. If a murder has occurred and Sue has been wrongfully convicted she must be immediately released and focus should be on properly detemining what happened, and who (if anyone) was responsible. The possibility of accidental death being associated with this disappearance cannot be ruled out.

Australia needs a Criminal Case Review Commission to investigate unsafe verdicts and stop the trauma and tragedy of wrongful convictions.

We welcome new signatures to investigate Sue Neill-Fraser’s wrongful conviction:

http://tinyurl.com/mlls994)

Eve Ash
Psychologist, CEO Seven Dimensions
Eve Ash is the producer of Shadow of Doubt, an award-winning documentary about the Sue Neill-Fraser case, http://www.shadowofdubt.tv

Barbara Etter: In Baden-Clay Scratch Marks on His Face - In Sue Neill-Fraser a 1-2 cm cut on her Thumb?

Court of Criminal Appeals decision. Read for yourself, here