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

Barbara Etter

Tonight: 60 Minutes to Cover Sue Neill-Fraser Case


60 Minutes this Sunday will be covering the various perspectives on the Sue Neill-Fraser case in Tasmania.

The case involved the death and disappearance of Bob Chappell from the Four Winds yacht (pic) on Australia Day 2009. The case was an entirely circumstantial one and Sue has exhausted all avenues of appeal.

She is currently serving a term of 23 years imprisonment in the women’s prison at Risdon, on the outskirts of Hobart. Her family, lawyers and her many loyal friends and supporters, as well as concerned members of the community, are calling for an inquest into Bob’s death.

There is also a petition for mercy currently being prepared for submission to the Tasmanian Attorney-General. The case has some interesting parallels with other high profile cases such as Chamberlain (NT), Gordon Wood (NSW) and Mallard (WA), which were later proven to have been miscarriage of justice matters.

Barbara Etter’s blog here

Earlier this week on TT: Intelligence-Led Policing? Not in Tasmania. The Sue Neill-Fraser Case

Court of Criminal Appeals decision. Read for yourself, here

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  1. David Obendorf

    March 17, 2013 at 11:15 am

    Tas Police senior officer Peter Powel, the investigating policeman was the one voice for the successful Prosecution case. Unusual, I would think for a copper to get such a gig – but the program did need to hear from both sides.

    This is probably the beginning of a long haul. The justice system in Tasmania in the dock… again.

  2. Simon D

    March 16, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    …. and if television commercials and most of the rubbish on 60 minutes give you the shits, go here – http://sixtyminutes.ninemsn.com.au/

  3. David Obendorf

    March 16, 2013 at 3:51 pm

    All these posts are from February 2013.

    Please note: The [b]Sixty Minutes[/b] program on this body-less Tasmanian murder mystery will go to air tonight at 7.30 across Australia on the Channel Nine network.

  4. William Griffin

    February 13, 2013 at 12:25 am

    Having been an investigator of many years experience, I have read the case and flawed is not the word here; incompetent is a better way to describe the investigation. if you find DNA evidence linking someone else to it that is reasonable doubt.

  5. Barbara Etter

    February 11, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    How can a trial be fair when the police investigation upon which it is based was deeply flawed? I am more than happy to substantiate that claim, with additional information and analysis. There are other fairness issues of public interest which will be raised at the appropriate time and in the appropriate fora.

  6. Geraldine Allan

    February 11, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    In reply to your #9 Cleaver, I’m not about to regurgitate what Barbara Etter has reliably published to date. You ask me to “… point to precisely where the trial was unfair, as opposed to you simply not liking the result. …”

    It seems you have missed a couple of my points so I’ll explain further, whilst not repeating the already-stated facts. I apologise for any lack of clarity in my previous comments. The reason I quoted the TT links was to refer you to those threads in case you hadn’t already read them. Bearing in mind your initial comment, I formed the opinion that perhaps you were unaware of the full extent of matters as already published and discussed.

    Firstly, my objections: – 

    These can in no way be related to “… not liking the result”. You have misread me. What I find unacceptable are the flawed processes (as Ms. Etter has already competently released. Following those publications, discussion at considerable length in my already-nominated TT threads has occurred) …

    Secondly, the “appeal”: –
As I believe was the situation and maybe somebody more learned than I might confirm — if the specified flawed processes remained unknown at the time of the appeal, then the appeal hearing was unfair again to the by then convicted appellant; thus the resultant CCA decision ought be disregarded in my opinion.

    It seems the opportunity for another appeal doesn’t happen merely because all the currently known evidence was not available at the time of the CCA hearing. It is worthy of note that there is a limited time for any appeal application and hearing.

    My own experience is — that restricted time curbs the amount of research and investigation required to uncover evidence not disclosed … If I am wrong here, I also will readily retract my words.

    FYI, speaking as fact and from personal experience here, it takes months/years to extract this type of information/evidence. The CCA time limitations don’t allow for that.

    Thirdly, the facts: –
    Accepting the particulars as stated by Ms Etter (as I do), the jury did not have all the relevant evidence before them. Again, I can say I know from my own research and experience (not believe because somebody told me) that this is at times the modus operandi (mo) of the police investigation process …

    Yet again, I have discussed this broadly and not specifically; Ms. Etter had already done that. Nonetheless; what I have said is from my own experience. When I read Ms. Etter’s revelations, I immediately identified with them.

    Summary: -
 The SNF trial was unfair for the reasons I have above-listed. I am at a loss as to how I can spell it out more clearly.

  7. Cleaver

    February 11, 2013 at 12:36 pm


    Can you please point to precisely where the trial was unfair, as opposed to you simply not liking the result.

    We’ve had an appeal and it was thrown out.

    If there’s fresh evidence regards the factual matrix around the crime or a subsequent determination the conviction is unsafe I’ll happily eat my words.

    Simpy quoting past TT posts doesn’t constitute either.

  8. Reg. A. Watson

    February 11, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    The case is rather strange – there is no body, no motive really been put forward and no murder weapon, other than the fire extinguisher to weigh the body down – which anyone could have provided. I am reminded of the Chamberlain case. For an outsider of course it is difficult to ascertain the full truth on the matter; one just hopes the jury got it right.

  9. Geraldine Allan

    February 10, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    Cleaver #6, it is a fact that “… a jury of her peers found beyond reasonable doubt she was guilty.”

    The crucial point here is how was that finding achieved?

    That awful situation is unacceptable by any standards. Every accused person is entitled to a fair trial. When that process is denied, they are entitled to the decision being reversed. This has been broadly discussed in recent TT threads @

    In the intervening time, the current intolerable state of the matter must receive remedy ASAP. What happens after that reversal is a different subject matter.

  10. Cleaver

    February 10, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    If Chucker Wooley is on the case then it’s obvious there’s been a miscarriage of justice.

    In the eyes of the law Bob Chappell hasn’t disappeared, he was murdered.

    If there’s new/fresh evidence or someone erred then let’s hear about it.

    Otherwise accept the fact a jury of her peers found beyond reasonable doubt she was guilty.

  11. Barbara Etter

    February 9, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    The story did not air tonight due to the cricket conflict. Stay tuned for the new date. A delay will allow for greater promotion of the upcoming coverage,

  12. Geraldine Allan

    February 8, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    60 Minutes program will be interesting, as will nationwide comments if any, that follow the show. Hopefully, the nation will get to see the malfunctioning, ashamedly unfair and, unacceptable Tasmanian justice system. The wrongful silence and tolerance of those who are elected to represent Tasmanians’ best interests will also become evident.

    #3 — Mark I agree, remedial action is required to deal with the glaring flaws in the overall prosecution system.

    A malfunctioning justice system is no justice system, to my mind.

    #2 John: easy it seems. This is not the first instance of circumstantial evidence resulting in a conviction. You and I along with I suspect most Tasmanians believe that direct evidence is required, but apparently not so the trial judge and jury together with the overall justice system.

    #1 Pensive, of course it is a disappearance not a death until such time as there is ample confirmation that Bob Chappell is deceased. To date there are far too many unknowns and, investigative stuff-ups and failures.

    All so very alarming, as it could be any one of us.

  13. Mark Bennett

    February 8, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    Over at

    we’re encouraging people to watch 60 Minutes this Sunday 10February and also to participate in the online commenting on the 60 Minutes website after the program. Would be great to see Barbara Etter manage to overturn the conviction as it seems from previous TT articles, to have been based on poor police work.

    Fixing up the standards of Tas Police and also of the state courts which have facilitated flawed convictions based on these poor standards, will be a major gain for most Tasmanians.

  14. John Biggs

    February 8, 2013 at 12:00 am

    Hey there: how can circumstantial evidence in justice be damning? You need more solid evidence than that.

  15. Pensive

    February 7, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    Wouldn’t it be safer stop at saying the “disappearance” of Bob Chappell rather than insinuating his “death”.

    If, as Barbara Etter keeps repeating, the case was entirely circumstantial and therefore the outcome not acceptable, then so must be the assumption of Bob Chappell’s death. After all, no body has been found.

    This is a very curious story, with family (who’s family?), loyal friends (loyal – strange word in a forensic case!) and supporters barracking on one side, and damning “circumstantial evidence” on the other.

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