Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


We believe in her and will continue the battle. The Sentencing Speech

ABC pic

Statement by Sarah Bowles & Emma Meeker, daughters of Sue Neill-Fraser

We are extremely disappointed with the decision of the Tasmanian Court of Criminal Appeal not to acquit or grant our mum, Sue Neill-Fraser, a retrial.

The case was entirely circumstantial – no body, no weapon, an implausible motive, no direct supporting forensic evidence, no confession, no direct eye witnesses.

Mum has always maintained her innocence. We believe in her and will continue the battle until she is released from prison and acquitted.

We have faith that truth has a way of seeping out but how long will this take? Mum has now been in jail since 2009 and we still don’t know what happened to Bob. Mum tries to remain in good spirits but as you can imagine, her grief, isolation and suffering has impacted on her health and well-being. She needs to return home to her family and friends so that we can re-define our lives and heal. She should affectively not lose her life, as well as her partner who was also her best friend and soul mate.

Mum has been portrayed as a ‘manipulative liar’. This is not at all accurate. We believe that the need to make a person evil and bad in the courtroom is a strategy to make up for a lack of evidence. Our mum has never been an aggressive, violent or nasty person. What is happening to her is horrific and we can only hope that we can resolve it sooner rather than later.

Our understanding was that, most likely, the appeal was going to result in a re-trial. Our understanding is that an acquittal would normally require the production of new or fresh evidence. To obtain this type of evidence we rely heavily on the police and their abilities and commitment to thoroughly investigate. There is only so much a family can do.

Regardless of what happens in the courts, we will never stop fighting for mum’s acquittal. This is not only about mum, it is about Bob and how Bob is to be remembered. We as a family need closure and we demand justice.

We would like to thank all of mum’s supporters who have tirelessly and thanklessly worked on the case. It makes a big difference to mum to know that people understand and believe in her, as well as in the wider social justice issues that this case reflects.

We will continue to fight for mum and seek leave to go to the High Court. There is a legal mine-field ahead of us but this case is full of issues and it is a matter of public interest that they are formally addressed.

Some of the issues are:

o A poor police investigation involving the misrepresentation of some issues and a failure to follow up on key matters;

o Apparent tunnel vision by police;

o The strong possibility of new or fresh evidence due to a number of “loose ends” in the investigation;

o Refusal by the trial judge to allow the Defence to recall a key witness, whose DNA was inexplicably found at the crime scene (i.e. on the yacht), who had lied to police about her movements on that night and did not have an alibi for the period in question;

o Possible non-disclosure issues and a possible deliberate strategy by police of not taking statements from certain witnesses if their evidence did not suit the prosecution’s case;

o Apparent lack of co-ordination in the forensic examination of exhibits and other issues including significant crime scene contamination;

o An untested and highly implausible scenario postulated by the Prosecution involving the winching of Bob’s body from the bowels of the yacht into a dinghy by mum, single-handedly;

o A clearly flawed Defence strategy at trial (no countering evidence via the calling of witnesses for the Defence);

o Mum’s personality became under attack because she appeared to show little emotion – It seems perhaps not a lot has been learnt from the “The Lindy Chamberlain case”. Furthermore, the sentencing judge partially justified giving mum 26 years in prison because she did not show remorse for her crime. She is hardly going to demonstrate remorse for a crime she did not commit!;

o Inappropriate comments and scenarios proposed by the DPP at the trial, which had no basis whatsoever and not supported by evidence e.g. Sue struck the deceased from behind with a wrench;

o The jury being misled on important issues such as the timing of diary entries where the prosecution was in possession of forensic evidence which supported mum’s defence;

o The timing of the jury verdict, which happened to be made late on the Friday evening – feedback would indicate that they were keen not to spend the weekend deliberating!;

o No consideration for the psychological or mental condition of mum, who was extremely traumatised after the loss of her long-time partner and being treated by medication when at trial; and

o False and malicious media reports that were never countered by family due to legal advice.

• The defence strategy adopted at the trial did not allow for family, friends with relevant evidence or expert witnesses to be called as part of our case. This was said to be done as the ‘burden of proof’ lay with the crown but did not account for the reliance by the prosecution on insinuations and aggressive character attacks.

• Mum has been under enormous psychological strain. She has lost her partner of 20 years in still unknown circumstances and is living with the pain and frustration of being wrongfully accused and convicted of a terrible crime she had no involvement in- whilst the real murderers are still amongst us.

First published: 2012-03-07 06:00 AM

• Download: The Sentencing Speech: What Justice Blow said:

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  1. michael kors sale

    November 15, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    An accurate chum any what individuals overlooks an individual’s lock-ups and consequently tolerates an individual’s successes.

  2. Isla MacGregor

    March 11, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    I recall back in the mid 1990’s during the peak of activity in Whistleblowers Australia, after the Wood Royal Commission in NSW, it was ‘said’, that if all the people who had been framed by corrupt police in NSW had received access to legal aid and a committed lawyer, then the state government would have gone broke paying out in compensation for wrongful conviction and imprisonment – true or not – think of it!

  3. Isla MacGregor

    March 11, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    From Jennie Herrera and Isla MacGregor

    It would have been more appropriate if the appeal had been heard in another jurisdiction.

  4. ALF1

    March 11, 2012 at 6:07 am

    The last word.I cannot erase the images of improbabilities that juries seem to accept.

    *Joanna Lees hiding just a few metres from Murdoch’s car and his hunting-dog cannot find her.Try hiding from your own dog. See how long it takes it to find you.

    *A distraught mother screaming at the incredulity of a wild-dog snatching her infant and nobody believing her. I visited her cell in the NT long after she vacated it. I felt she was still there lying on that single-bed in a tiny cell and I felt as though I had put her there.

    * A lone woman winching her husband’s body out and over all that yacht-railing superstructure and rowing to the perfect hiding-spot in the dead of night. A lone woman emptying a dead-heavy load from an unstable yacht-tender and not herself becoming a victim of the Derwent. No wonder the family won’t let it go.

    * A man on a Sydney cliff spearing a woman out and over the rocks to her death below.

    Isla MacGregor has admiral motivation for her continual criticism of injustices, much of it based on an anachronistic if not antediluvian adversarial point-scoring system that bedevils juries and imprisons innocent people.

    Isla’s iconoclasm seeks out and supports individuals as Geraldine Allan, lonesome campaigners whose grievances only get exposure through new-wave speak-easies as The Tasmanian Times.

    How many have been freed from Australian prisons recently after reviews of Crown evidence?

    These cases give hope for the campaigners against injustice or perceived injustice at the hands of legal elitism that franchises justice and presumes it to have been delivered through a manipulative use of juries – the community’s only contact with the afore-mentioned anachronistic adversarial system, meLord.

    And as for you moo, harumphing at #17, deliver us a body, before you can deliver a verdict.

    As we both use our freedoms to express our opinions, there is a woman languishing in Risdon prison and I feel as though I have put her there. For I had accepted her fate as justice done. But now I wonder.

    If there was an elaborate execution of a perfect crime, was it her who plotted it? Or was it her who was the intended victim?

    Why importune the public and criticise the police as she did, to find the person responsible for the disappearance of her partner?

    Now Barbara is hot on the trail and her impact on justice in this State, may ironically be more potent as a PI than a Departmental head.

  5. Geraldine Allan

    March 10, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    #19. That’s OK Isla.

    Nought but death will make me mute. To my mind it would be improper of me not to pursue such serious wrongdoing. I have other things to do with my time, so if I were at all unsure of my facts, I would resurrect the knitting. However, that must remain on hold for the present.

    It is my belief that every Tasmanian has an obligation to at least attempt to bring those persons responsible for the INjustice to account. I am simply a fellow traveller on that journey.

  6. Isla MacGregor

    March 10, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    Thank you Geraldine for sharing your experiences. You are one of the people I have known over many years who has the most experience and understanding of the injustice system in Tasmania.

    Yes…we will keep at it….and keep writing about it.

  7. Geraldine Allan

    March 10, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    Like #16 ((Isla) I can also assure readers this is not the first Tasmanian instance of an innocent person being convicted and imprisoned.

    I don’t have the time here and now to respond individually to the lengthy and detailed list of systemic failures published by Ms. Neill-Fraser’s daughters. Suffice to say that most of them align with my filed and accurate list relevant to the case in which I have a very detailed and reliable, knowledge. I need to say I have the evidence to support my allegations of shocking and at times, deliberate, failures.

    And finally, when these wrongdoings are confirmed and exposed, what are the perpetrators going to say … they didn’t know? I don’t think so. Tasmanians are loudly calling on them now, so they can initiate remedial action ASAP. That is — now, not when they are caught out and have nowhere to go but to admit fault.

    So, in saying that — why is it the Tasmania Police have failed to re-open their clearly flawed investigation? I believe I know the answer to my own question. Further to that I completely comprehend why the Office of DPP is remaining silent. This isn’t a first for either of these mentioned public bodies.

    Nonetheless, this systemic modus operandi of gaining a conviction at any cost must and will, be exposed. Some of the recipients of the behaviour may be quiet at present, but they will not go away. They remain for the long-haul, to witness justice arrive in Tasmania and the death of INjustice.

    What I find personally interesting is that the longer matters remain un-addressed the more substantive is the evidence that is uncovered. Extending the time in my experience doesn’t favour the perpetrators.

  8. moo

    March 9, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    If this woman was guilty she would by now have looked her devoted daughters in the eye and said, ‘give it away darlings, I did kill Bob. I cannot put you through any further pain with my lies. Let the punishment fit the crime. Now live your lives knowing justice has been done.’

    But she hasn’t. So therefore she is innocent.

    #15ALF1. I am just speechless! Poor Bob. He didn’t deserve to die, even though the defence at the trial tried to blacken his character.

  9. Isla MacGregor

    March 9, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    #15 I can assure you that Sue Neill-Fraser is not the first person who has been wrongly charged or convicted and imprisoned in Tasmania.

    Congratulations to Barbara Etter for working towards setting up the Innocence Project. Unfortunately it is too late for many.

    Unfortunately, the adversarial legal system has imprisoned many innocent people and let even more wealthy or high profile guilty people get off free.

    To take on the injustice system in Tasmania often leads to a ‘second injury’ – that imposed by an abusive legal process.

  10. ALF1

    March 9, 2012 at 8:42 am

    Presuming that a daughter knows her mother not to be psychopathic or a congenital liar who believes her own lies, the continued campaign by her children suggests her innocence.

    Juries get confused by facts and tend to be swayed immensely by the judge’s direction while summing up. They overlook emotion as it has no place in the balance sheet of all factual probabilities.

    If this woman was guilty she would by now have looked her devoted daughters in the eye and said, ‘give it away darlings, I did kill Bob. I cannot put you through any further pain with my lies. Let the punishment fit the crime. Now live your lives knowing justice has been done.’

    But she hasn’t. So therefore she is innocent. But my goodness if guilty, how clever. One woman, heavy body…where is it? All trussed up in chicken wire? How in the hell did she do that? Where was it disposed? How far from the Four Winds did she row it? How far did police divers search? Would Bob’s body, even all trussed up have bloated and floated in high-summer?

    Did she weigh it down…with what? That alone adds to the massive pre-planned logistics of hiding a body for all time in a river not far from the boat.What were the sea conditions? Too choppy to row a small boat? Did she row about in the dark, her back to the many obstacles in a congested marina; possibly avoiding lights on some boats where occupiers may have overnighted for a summer-Australia Day drink? How clever this woman of sinister intentions to make a body disappear. How clever and super-evil of her to be able to convince her darling intelligent, distraught, disillusioned, ever-importuning, tortured children of her innocence.

    If Barbara Etter has found an unexplored pathway through this mire of convoluted evidence and forensic character portrayal, then let the evidence be tested. After all there are more twists and turns in a reality-murder trial than there are in a good piece of murder-mystery fiction…and I’d like to read all chapters before closing the book. God forbid, the way we’d feel if the jury got it wrong.This woman could end up being the first Tasmanian ever wrongfully imprisoned.

    Only one thing worse than being left hanging and that is knowing that justice may seem not to have been done.

  11. Philip Lowe

    March 9, 2012 at 2:34 am

    I know what it felt like to be accused of a serious crimne in Tasmania.The assumption of my guilt by too many so called ordinary people was soul destroying, and frightening.

  12. William Boeder

    March 8, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    it seems quite odd that a second case containing many of the same arrived at facts, or even be they assumed facts, were also involved in the Helen Munnings case?
    Yet there has been little resolve toward the mystery disappearance of this person?
    Another case of equal suspicion yet no criminal prosecution?

  13. Mark Bowles

    March 7, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    Dear Ben #4, you’re right, the courage of Sue’s daughters alone does not make her innocent. That’s the whole problem with circumstantial evidence cases – very little is ever falsifiable.

    But neither does her lie make her a murderer. Most people lie at some point in their lives, and it doesn’t make them murderers or even inherently of bad character. She explained why she withheld information from police on the stand.

    As to Bunnings, you say she was not confused, it was “serial obfuscation”. Firstly, the link between trauma and bad memories is real. Secondly, I can tell you that she went the Bunnings/K&D a hell of a lot I can see how she would get confused as to the day. Thirdly, why would someone make up such a lie believing that there were security cameras there (she asked police to check the footage)? Fourthly, I’m not convinced that she was not definitely at Bunnings that day…if you have ever seen that footage you’d know there’s a lot of people swarming around and you don’t get a great clear look at them.

    But as to lies and links to guilt….you should be equally questioning why the person whose DNA was found on the boat lied about her location the night Bob went missing? Why the incident of her lie was not disclosed to defence as required by law, until defence counsel teased it out of the detective on the stand? Why the witness who claimed to have been asked by Sue to knock-off her brother decades ago (he’s still alive) withheld the information that stolen goods had been found at his property just prior to him going forward to police with his story about Sue – and then possession of stolen goods charges against him mysteriously dissipating? More to the point, why was this vital information (it must have been acknowledged to vital because prosecution allowed him to be recalled about it) withheld from defence by the police and/or DPP? Who withheld it, why did they withhold it, and why haven’t they been called to account??

    As to giving false hope and legal costs. Youre right, this process involves an enormous financial and emotional cost to the family and sacrifices by many. But sometime you just have to do things because its right and you want to find out the truth.

  14. Alpal

    March 7, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    Trevor, the original judgment doesn’t exist as a judgment per se as it was the verdict of a jury. They simply say guilty or not guilty and don’t give written reasons.
    The judge does give reasons for the length of sentence when he hands that sentence down but, for reasons I don’t understand, these are only publicly available for a pretty short period of time after sentence.

    Rebecca, thank you for your reply. Did the family get a transcript of what happened during the trial? Would they release it so that the rest of us have a bit more information to go on? (Are they even allowed to?) If there was more in that trial that seemed inappropriate – such as justice Blow describing her in those terms – making the transcript publicly available might help get more people behind the cause. As it stands, on the publicly available information, I think most people would be satisfied with the jury verdict.

  15. Mark Bowles (son-in-law of SNF)

    March 7, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    Alpal #4, your analysis is thoughtful, thank you. However, the key fault is in assuming that “facts as presented to the court” are indeed ”facts”. Many, many of the statements from so called prosecution “witnesses” (nobody witnessed the crime, as far as we know) are points of contention.

    As to the plausibility of a single middle-aged woman winching a dead 65kg weight from inside the yacht (at a 45 degree angle up two flights of steps), I think you would have a few doubts if you had been on the yacht. More the point, the jury and judges involved would had a few doubt about the prosecution’s scenario of they had been the yacht/crime scene (they hadn’t!) The scenario has never been fully tested.

    Furthermore, it takes quite a feat of mental gymnastics to fathom that a single women could then get the body down into the dinghy bobbing in waves and then motor out to the middle of the Derwent in the middle of the night and tip the body (and weight?) overboard without tipping the dinghy overboard and drowning. Why go to all that trouble in a highly visible and populated area when it would be so easy just to sail out to sea and push him overboard and say he tripped??

    Finally, even if you think there is a “compelling argument” for her guilt, should that be enough to send someone to jail for the rest of their life? Recently published statistics show Tasmania has the highest conviction rate in Australia, 94.5% in the Supreme Court. It seems Tasmanian juries are happy to lock just about anyone away. The problem is blind faith and a failure to understand importance and meaning of “beyond reasonable doubt” (even courts trip over themselves to avoid defining it precisely).

    As a close observer of Sue, her relationship with Bob over recent years, the investigation, and the selectivity, speculation and simple untruths spoken by multiple witnesses at trial, I am convinced of her innocence and think we are a long way from ever knowing what really happened to poor Bob.

  16. Ben

    March 7, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    I must say that I admire the courage and perserverence of Susan Neill-Fraser’s daughters, and believe that they are convinced of their mother’s innocence. But that doesn’t actually make their mother innocent.

    If Susan Neill-Fraser is innocent, why did she lie repeatedly to police, over a long period of time, regarding her whereabouts on the night of the murder?

    Was she at home all night, or at Bunnings for hours and hours, or on Marieville Esplanade? Who knows as Neill-Fraser has, in various police interviews, asserted or confirmed that she was at all of these places on the night of the murder.

    She says she was “confused” but who is so confused about their own whereabouts that they make up an obviously false story about being at Bunnings for a long period of time during which none of Bunnings’ security cameras recorded her and during which Bunnings was actually closed?

    Neill-Fraser’s behaviour in regards to her whereabouts on the night added up to serial obfuscation, not confusion.

    The only real confusion I can see here is the arrival of various people with their own vested interests, who now appear to be behind the claim that “a great deal of further information” will be revealed that will exonerate Neill-Fraser.

    If that is the case, where is this new information? Why discuss it without presenting it?

    Why give false hope where there is now virtually none to be had, apart from via a High Court challenge that will potentially cost over $1 million in legal costs?

  17. Rebecca Harrison

    March 7, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Just a quick response to Alpal re her queries about a lot of the points that were not raised as grounds of appeal. If it had been possible to put those in as grounds for appeal that would have happened, but the grounds for appeal are very restrictive and can only be based on errors in law and in the judges directions, not the kinds of points that Alpal mentioned. Re Sue Neill Fraser being described as cold etc that is a substantial element in Justice Blow’s final summing up to the jury where he does indeed described her in exactly those terms – just like Lindy Chamberlain. There is a lot more going on with this case than meets the publice eye including that new evidence has come up – it is a matter of convincing Tasmania Police to reopen the case when to do so would cast them in a very embarassing and negative light. When a retrial eventually occurrs as it should certainly do, a great deal of further information, new evidence and backing up of Sarah Bowles statement will be revealed.

  18. Trevor Burdon

    March 7, 2012 at 10:30 am

    I too read the full Appeal judgement and would like to now read the original judgement. Is anyone able to help with link(s) to where it may found? My search of the court database did not turn up anything other than the appeal document.

  19. Benjamin Dean

    March 7, 2012 at 8:28 am

    cont …

    In the real world it is impractical to test and observe every occurrence of fact that relates to a theory within a particular domain. For example to test every occurrence of gravity in the universe to confirm its current theory is impractical. Or to find out every detail of what happened on a day past is simply impossible. However, this is not to deny the robustness of logical inference, as I’m sure no one would think it wise to leap from a building to test that theory and the actual laws of gravity are dovetailing. Confidence in a conclusion arises instead from the soundness and validity of the argument structure.

    It is for this reason science focuses so obsessively on using the tools of falsification or the null hypothesis in experimental design. The logic is that it takes only one piece of non conforming evidence to indicate the theory inadequate. In our jigsaw puzzle analogy to suggest that the completed image is not all red, one needs only to discover a different coloured piece. While the discovery of another red piece may support the theory, it still does not test the conclusion’s validity. Why, because a piece yet to be discovered may well be of a differing colour. In this way the new additional supporting evidence does not test that the summation of all pieces of data are collaborating with the completed picture to which the theory purports to describe. Einstein famously expressed this by suggesting that no amount of experimentation could prove him right, while a single experiment could prove him wrong.

    In light of this knowledge I was floored by the decision from the Supreme Court in October 2010 in convicting Sue.

    Although the Criminal Court of Appeal delivered little hope to Sue Neill Fraser it still remains that evidence potentially capable of falsifying the theory has not been thoroughly investigated.

    This includes no clear explanation established to why the DNA of a homeless girl was on the yacht, why there was no consideration given to the multiple witnesses accounts that alluded to a dingy other than the yacht’s tender at the boat during the night in question, and why were witnesses known to be on yachts nearby that night not interviewed. The dilemma is why would one focused on building a case against a suspected felon be driven to investigate alternatives, why would one whose job it is to prosecute seek to falsify their conclusions, and why is it thought reasonable that the defence is the only hope of exoneration.

    Benjamin Dean is a zoologist, he is active in monitoring, education and interpretation, and the development of management strategies in Tasmanian natural values. He is currently researching the relationship between evolution and ethics.

  20. Benjamin Dean

    March 7, 2012 at 8:27 am

    The Court of Appeal’s final decision, in regard to the conviction of Sue Neill Fraser for murdering her medical specialist partner Bob Chappell, was handed down in Hobart on the 6th of March 2012 by Justices Shan Tennent, David Porter and Chief Justice Ewan Crawford.

    Bob Chappell was last seen aboard the couples yacht “Four Winds” on Australia Day 2009, which was moored on the Derwent River in Sandy Bay. The yacht was discovered the next day to be sinking on its moorings. Sue Neill Fraser was charged in October the following year and Justice Alan Blow handed down a 26 year sentence.

    Of the 8 grounds of appeal 7 were dismissed in the final decision. On the grounds of excessive length of sentence this has now been reduced to 23 years non parole.

    To this day Sue Neill Fraser continues to proclaim her innocence and after hearing the final decision of the appeal, her daughters expressed their intent to continue the pursuit of justice by taking the matter to the high court.

    The original trial at the Supreme Court in Hobart was based entirely on circumstantial evidence and conducted in a highly emotive atmosphere. It was a case with no body, no murder weapon, no confession, no established motive, and no direct evidence such as eye witness accounts. Without the discovery of further evidence, what happened that night can only be imagined.

    I had met Sue, her partner and family a few years prior to Bob’s disappearance. As I had been trained in science, it would not have been unusual for Bob and I to talk about the philosophy of science. With discussions about the irony of the default view in science in which conclusions are regarded as provisional however robust they seem.

    Yet ironically, history has shown no other method of inquiry to be more successful than science in providing knowledge for the advancement of fields such as medicine, communications, engineering, and technology generally.

    As I was concerned with this trial’s outcome I listened to proceedings at the Supreme Court in 2010. In acknowledgement of the universal significance of justice, I was prepared for the disclosure of new possibilities in critical and logical thinking in the judicial process. I presumed that legal argument would be peerless in it quality of reason and logical deduction.

    Contrary to popular belief, science does not have a single method of discovery, and avoids the use of terms such as proof and truth. Instead it uses a tool kit of approaches for measuring, observing, investigating, deducting and inferring conclusions. And through a rigorous process of critical thought and peer review the probability of arriving at a false conclusion is expressed as part of the result.

    Similar to circumstantial criminal cases, deductive logic is the bases of many theories in science today. If a theory is to be accepted as provisionally true, then its internal logic dictates that the summation of all the facts, observation and measurements both known and unknown relating to that theory’s domain will accord with the theory’s explanation. In this way it is the summation of all facts collaborating with the explanation given by the theory. For if evidence doesn’t correlate then a new or modified explanation is needed.

    A simple analogue of the scientific approach might be as follows. You have discovered a few pieces of a jig saw puzzle, and therefore the complete picture can only be inferred, or imagined. All of your pieces are red, so you deduce that the whole picture is a red image. In this way one’s hypothesis is expressing equivalence between a couple of pieces of data and the complete picture. However, to confirm the validity of your theorising one would need to provide the summation of all pieces that is the completed picture and compare it to your proposed image.

    cont …

  21. Alpal

    March 6, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    I took the time today to read the appeal decision. It was dead set fascinating. I’ve not every case closely, and as a result had no opinion as to the veracity of the jury verdict. Given the preponderance of comment on this website about the doubt surrounding the case, the appeal decision surprised me somewhat.

    The first 80 odd paragraphs of Chief Justice Crawford’s decision – where he sets out the facts as presented to the court – makes an incredibly compelling case for the guilt of Susan Neil-Fraser. The remainder of the decision simply confirms that it was not only compelling but legally sound.

    Having put my opinion clearly out there, and not wishing to attack a family who I think are doing a wonderful job of sticking by their mum, I do have the following responses to the statement put forward by the family yesterday:

    Poor police investigation, apparent tunnel vision by police, and “loose ends” were not points argued on the appeal. Nor was non-disclosure by police, nor “crime scene contamination”, nor defence not calling unidentified witnesses, nor the timing of the jury verdict, nor Susan Neil-Fraser’s medical condition at time of trial nor “false and malicious” media reports.

    If the family thought those points had any merit, why weren’t they grounds of appeal? Likewise, there was no mention at all of Neil-Fraser being thought poorly of because of her lack of emotion. None. If her family really thinks that caused or contributed to a miscarriage of justice, why wasn’t it in the appeal?

    As for the points that were raised:
    The refusal by the trial judge to recall a witness (described by the family as a “key” witness, but it’s very hard to see how that could be so) was convincingly endorsed in the judgment.

    Why is the theory that Susan Neil Fraser winched the deceased’s body from “the bowels of the yacht” implausible? There were rope-rub marks consistent with that happening, she knew how to handle the winch and despite being asked not to touch anything she immediately grabbed the winch handle and handled the rope (perhaps to make sure her DNA was on it). Winching the body is far more likely than one relatively weak woman carrying the body.

    The “inappropriate scenarios” put forward by the dpp were not inappropriate at all, though the judgment of Justice Porter did seem have some veiled criticism of some of the language used by the prosecution, especially with respect to her grabbing the winch handle.

    I urge anyone who is wondering about the merits of this conviction to read the appeal. It’s freely available online. It presents a much more compelling argument for her guilt than I realized existed.

  22. Barnaby Drake

    March 6, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Such a pity we no longer have an Integrity Commission!

    I can see why Barbara Etter resigned – it’s just knowing where to start?

  23. Dan

    March 6, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Further proof that police services in Australia need to learn from the UK, where they have separated investigative and forensic teams, and have adopted intelligence-led investigative strategies, rather than the old model (apparently still used here) of picking a suspect, then trying to build a case.

  24. Isla MacGregor

    March 6, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    From Isla MacGregor and Jennie Herrera
    Whistleblowers Tasmania

    Whistleblowers Tasmania were very shocked by the result of the appeal in the Hobart Supreme Court yesterday and will continue to support Sue Neill-Fraser in the belief that there has been a grave miscarriage of justice in this matter.

    The above flaws in the case both from prosecution and defence lawyers, added to a seriously deficient police investigation make this a shocking example of injustice in Tasmania.

    This case highlights the urgent need to address the structural problems plaguing the continually failing adversarial system of justice as well as integrity and professionalism in Tasmania Police investigations.

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