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

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Letter to the Editor on Sue Neill-Fraser

To the Editor,

The Tasmanian Times

In 1985-88, I lived and worked as a general practitioner in Hobart. During that time, I befriended Sue Neill-Fraser. We initially met because I contacted her as a client of her riding school in Bagdad and we subsequently became good friends and regularly traveled together on weekends to organized cross-country horse riding events in the Midlands of Tasmania.

After leaving Tasmania in 1989, I returned to Sydney to pursue a career in medical research and lost contact with Sue. However, I always considered her as a good friend and retained pleasant memories of the times we spent riding together in the beautiful Tasmanian Midlands. The first time that I heard of Sue’s conviction for the murder of her partner Bob Chappell in 2009 was on the ABC Radio National’s Background Briefing program on Sunday 23 October 2016. I was deeply shocked and numbed by this news because so much of what has been written about Sue in the media is diametrically opposed to my experience of her as a friend.

I found Sue to be an honest, gentle and hard-working person of very high integrity, who always showed great kindness and generosity toward me. Although I lost contact with Sue after leaving Tasmania, I have always held her in high regard and considered her one of the best people I’ve met in my life.

When I knew Sue as young woman in her mid-30’s, I directly observed her physical limitations in relation to heavy work and lifting. Sue is a lightly built woman and was suffering from chronic back pain and sciatica resulting from old riding injuries. As a medical practitioner, I have been trained to observe pain in others and I observed that Sue was often in pain. She was unable to lift bales of hay weighing 15-20 kg. When we rode together, I would do all of the heavy lifting because Sue was physically incapable of doing it. She would also frequently pull out of our rides after less than 30 minutes because of pain.

Fast forward 20-25 years and it is likely that the back injuries and pain Sue suffered as a young woman would be compounded by osteoarthritis, making it likely that her back pain and limitations on lifting were at least equal to, or worse, than when I knew her. For these reasons, I feel strongly that Sue could not have committed Bob Chappell’s murder and the disposal of his body in the way that the Crown alleged. At the very least, my observation of Sue’s back pain and lifting limitations cast reasonable doubt upon the police hypothesis that was advanced during the trial.

To say that I am very upset about only just learning of Sue’s predicament is a gross understatement; I feel devastated for her. I found Sue to be a wonderful human being and I wish I could have done something to help her at the time of the trial, but I was not aware of the events of 2009-10 until very recently.
Dr Peter McMinn BMedSc (Hons 1), MBBS (Hons 1), MD, PhD, FRCPA, FRCPath, FASM Wollstonecraft NSW 2065 27 November 2016

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46 Comments

46 Comments

  1. Dr Peter Lozo

    July 26, 2017 at 10:22 pm

    An example of Neill-Fraser’s dishonesty

    The transcript of the Sunday Night program can be downloaded from Dr Bob Moles’ Networked Knowledge website (see the entries for 20th July 2017):

    http://netk.net.au/whatsnew.asp

    Neill-Fraser said the following (on a phone from prison):

    “We did everything together, absolutely everything, we travelled together, we ate dinner every night together, we went away together. Everything … there was nothing hidden from each other, he knew everything in my life and I knew everything in his.”

    I wonder whether Sue told Bob about her January 8th 2009 phone conversation with the yacht broker (Jeffrey Rowe):

    https://youtu.be/hkn166eyA00

    from Trial Transcript  (417/20):

    “Sue told me that she and Bob had separated.”

    It is obvious that Sue was dishonest with Mr Rowe a few weeks before Bob’s disappearance. One wonders what led Sue to lie about the nature of her relationship with Bob and what intentions she may have had.

     

  2. Dr Peter Lozo

    February 4, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    Cont …..

    For those interested in my research into the Steven Avery, Susan-Neill Fraser, or Henry Keogh cases, then you will find it all on my Facebook page:

    https://www.facebook.com/peter.lozo.1

    If any of you wish to engage me on my facebook about any of the above 3 mentioned cases then please do so in the same civil manner as  was demonstrated on TT.

    Cheers,
    Peter

    Ps: hope it goes well at Sue’s appeal. I will follow the news.

  3. Dr Peter Lozo

    February 4, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    To Neill-Fraser supporters, non-supporters and to the Editor of TT:

    —————

    Dr Peter Lozo (@PeterLozo) tweeted at 12:37 AM – 4 Feb 2017 :

    @StaunchA @tracykeogh2 @eveash Check out the nastiness of Avery/Dassey supporters.Influenced by MAM?
    (http://twitter.com/PeterLozo/status/827798317719449600?s=17)

    —————————–

    Dr Peter Lozo (@PeterLozo) tweeted at 1:24 AM – 4 Feb 2017 :

    @stauncha @eveash @tracykeogh2 I will have to go on TT and congratulate SN-F supporters and the editor on very civil debates. (http://twitter.com/PeterLozo/status/827809946985078785?s=17)

    ————

    Cont…..

  4. Roger Morgan

    January 4, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    #40 Dr Lozo, It makes perfect sense to me now. Thank you for clarifying this issue. Roger

  5. Dr Peter Lozo

    January 4, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    ……

    Yes it is time for the Tasmanian’s to congratulate the cops (Peter Powell and his former team of detectives) who worked the case so that the community can heal and unify into a state that is proud of its police force and its legal system.

  6. Geraldine allan

    January 4, 2017 at 11:24 am

    Keystone Cops personified. Although in this instance, it is no laughing matter.

  7. Dr Peter Lozo

    January 4, 2017 at 9:33 am

    #39 Roger,

    There is a very good practical reason why the rope was wound in an anticlockwise direction on the winch. It has to do with using the winch to lower the body from the yacht to the dinghy via the back gate (which is perfectly aligned with the winch) in an easy and controlled manner whilst being able to stand next to the gate, hold one end of the rope and watch the position of the body as it is lowered. However, this time the winch drum is used as a pulley. The weight of the body will do the pulling whilst the perpetrator is slowly releasing the other end of the rope. Thus there is no need for the perpetrator to operate the winch by turning the handle. But because the winch drum can turn in only one direction (the clockwise direction) that means that the rope will need to be wound around the winch drum in the anticlockwise direction so that a clockwise rotation of the winch drum will release/unspool the side of the rope to which the body is attached and suspended above the water. Quite simple really. In fact, there is absolutely no need for the perpetrator to be standing on the yacht next to the stern gate. It can be done by standing or sitting in the dinghy and slowly releasing the rope whilst the body is lowered onto the dinghy (or the boarding platform or in the water next to the dinghy) and then tied to the dinghy before totally disengaging the winching rope and throwing it back onto the deck of the yacht.

    I reckon that Sue would have had plenty of time and planning. Plus, she had lived with a scientist for many years and would have picked up some useful tips from him on how to use winches, pulleys and other devices to help her on her farm and on the sailing boat (Bob Chappell was a physicist; physicists know a lot about these sorts of things because it is part of their general physics education during their first year undergraduate physics lectures).

    Thus we shouldn’t ignore the fact that Sue lived with a physicist for many years. If she had any physical handicaps (such as a back injury which limited her lifting ability to 15 kg) then it is likely that Bob would have advised her on how to use mechanical devices (levers, pulleys, winches, etc) on her farm and on the yacht. She probably, via a necessity rather than a desire, had acquired knowledge and skill in this area beyond that of an average sailor.

    Hope the above is sufficiently clear.

    #12 Lynn,

    I think that once you fully comprehend the above you will realise how silly your statement to me was. Here is the statement I am referring to:

    “The point you keep missing, Dr Lozo, is, it was not Sue using them; it was one or two or three or four other people. Sue would never have left the winches with ropes wound the wrong way.”

  8. Roger Morgan

    January 4, 2017 at 3:19 am

    #38 Dr Lozo

    I wouldn’t have thought of that technique. Was Sue clever enough to think of that? She could have planned the murder for some time and figured it out. But, as mentioned earlier, the rope was found wrapped around the winch the wrong way, i.e. anticlockwise. Any ideas of what that is about? Was there some purpose in the rope being wound anticlockwise? I can’t think of any practical purpose for it.

  9. Dr Peter Lozo

    January 3, 2017 at 1:25 am

    Winching of the body from below the deck: a closed loop winching arrangement

    #36 Roger,

    Thanks for that info. I looked at some data sheets as well. 

    The issue is that it would take hundreds of turns of the winch handle to winch the body out from below the deck and then across the deck to a suitable location for lowering the body to the dinghy. It was recently explained to me that it would be tiring and awkward, particularly if one hand (the dominant hand) was operating the winch handle whilst the other hand was holding (and pulling) onto the rope coming off the winch (so that the rope doesn’t slip on the winch).

    What everyone assumed (including the police) is that only one rope was lowered from the winch to the cabin below. However, there is evidence in the Trial Transcript that leads me to suggest that an elaborate set-up may have been rigged to simplify the winching process.  

    I propose that both ends of the rope went from the winch down into the cabin. In the scenario I am thinking off, one end of the rope (the ‘pulling’ end) is tied directly to the body (around the feet; I imagine that the body is wrapped and tied so that it doesn’t leave blood streaks as it is pulled across various surfaces). The other end of the rope (the ‘pulled end’) is first looped over  a beam or an anchored pulley and is pulled tight and then tied to the body. In this scenario the winching process is quite simple. Since the rope now forms a closed loop there is no need for one hand to hold and pull the rope. One hand is thus free and can be used to assist in turning the winch handle. The other relevant thing about this scenario is that the rope will leave two scuff marks on the woodwork. There were in fact two scuff marks found (about 20 cm – 30 cm apart ; TT 101:30 – 40; with rope fibres wedged on the woodwork). If a pulley was used then the suitable anchoring point would have been a beam under the floorboards that were found to have been unscrewed and loose. I imagine that a closed loop winching arrangement as described above would probably also have been used to easily manoeuvre the body across the deck and to lower it to the dinghy.

     

  10. Dr Peter Lozo

    December 29, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    ….

    No expert opinion in Shadow of Doubt! See comment #5

    http://oldtt.pixelkey.biz/index.php?/pr-article/4-million-minutes-for-sue-neill-fraser/

  11. Roger Morgan

    December 27, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    A middle-aged Sue holding a child in one arm and a cat in the other arm. 

    http://neill-fraser-support-group.org.au/wp-content/gallery/photo-gallery/sue-with-cat-n-child.png

    The data sheets on sailing boat winches (http://www.lewmar.com/Winch-Selection-Guide) shows that a boat of the length of Four Winds would have winches of the power ratio in the range 40:1 – 70:1. Winching weighted Bob’s body using the 40:1 winch would be equivalent to lifting about 2kg – the weight of an adult cat.

  12. Rosemary

    December 27, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    # Johhno it would not be a comparison, “a spontaneous unplanned violent act ” because the crown case was that it was a pre meditated act of 12 years planning

  13. John

    December 26, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    #33
    A very odd statement indeed for a person who claims not to have had any contact with Sue for 25 years. Goes to show that even professors can at time make weird statements. Whilst he is busy defending the character he hasn’t known for 25 years we will watch how far he will get before he realises the hard truth about Sue of 2009.

  14. mark h

    December 22, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    #8 ‘I intend to honour that friendship by defending her character now that she is not in any position to defend herself from such online bullying.’

    If you have SNF’s permission to discuss her past medical conditions online then I’m going to say that she does have a voice on these pages. Dr, did you know you can be put on SNF’s phone call list from jail? It would be possible with phone and letters from jail to have sensible input to close the debate.

    There has been online bullying of one innocent person on these many pages. I guess SNF being a convicted murderer, I’m not talking about her …

    (anonymous personal observations deleted)

  15. Dr Peter Lozo

    December 10, 2016 at 2:28 am

    In memory of Robert (Bob) Adrian Chappell (1943–2009)

    Having reached as far as I could on this case I now like to say a few words about the man whose disappearance I researched via these pages. Bob’s obituary can be downloaded from the internet by googling Robert Adrian Chappell obituary.

    The one thing that Bob and I had in common was the love for science, particularly physics. On that note, here  I copy few sections from the obituary about Bob’s professional and private life:

    Bob “had a particular interest and ability in mathematics and science.”

    “He studied physics as a major in his Bachelor of Science Degree with Honours at Melbourne University.”

    “Bob joined the Department of Physical Sciences at Peter MacCallum Clinic, Melbourne in 1969 and in 1970 took the opportunity to accept a position as Medical Physicist to the then Peter MacCallum Clinic Tasmanian Service Hobart, which was later to become W.P. Holman Clinic. He remained there until his death in January 2009 where he was the longest serving staff member. Bob will be fondly remembered as the fabric of the clinic, having overseen the evolution of a sophisticated service from the installation of the Clinic’s first linear accelerator to its present state with two multi-mode accelerators and having taken a pivotal role in the introduction of the Clinic’s IMRT programme.”

    “Bob was a sole physicist for much of his career and developed a good working relationship with the radiation therapists. He was collegiate and his extensive knowledge was respected and valued.”

    “Bob had a dry, wry, cynical sense of humour which was appreciated by all. Bob was not just a scientist, he was extremely well read in all facets of literature, and he enjoyed cooking and was a very genial host. Bob was the original West Hobart foodie seeking quality olive oil far before the rest of us had gone past cooking in lard. When his family were young, he gained great satisfaction from taking his children fishing and exploring the islands and coves of Coles Bay. He also taught himself and his children to sail dinghies and to windsurf. In recent years he enjoyed entertaining his extended family, including one son, two daughters and six young grandchildren.”

    “He was a gentleman, in the true sense of the world, utterly straightforward in his dealings with others in professional life and dedicated to doing his job to the highest standards.”

    As I reflect back over the past 18 or so months during which I researched Bob’s disappearance I am reminded of a brief video someone posted during a rather intense debate late last year. I think that Bob would have found the story amusing. 

     

    RIP Bob Chappell.

    From a fellow physicist.

    https://youtu.be/24cxpSIiPF4

  16. Dr Peter Lozo

    December 9, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    @don_fallen @betterconsult @eveash Neill-Fraser created a decoy (people around a fire) following the Police media release of 11 March 2009.

    https://mobile.twitter.com/PeterLozo/status/807167819120902144?p=v

  17. Dr Peter Lozo

    December 9, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    @don_fallen Neill-Fraser lied to Bob’s sister. Why would she therefore not lie to @eveash @betterconsult and all her other supporters?

    https://mobile.twitter.com/PeterLozo/status/807176282555314177?p=v

  18. Dr Peter Lozo

    December 3, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    Further and final clarification: bow lift

    There was a challenge to one of my scenarios: placing the body on top or across the bow of the dinghy. Rather than adding further tension on this blog I refer the readers to my comment #496 at 

    http://oldtt.pixelkey.biz/index.php/article/tim-ellis-and-the-australian-womens-weekly-#sthash.OynakHO3.dpuf

    Bow lift whilst the dinghy is in motion was a very relevant technical consideration when I analysed the scenario before listing it on this blog.

    Also, large boats and ships travel through the channel. The channel is deep. I don’t think that someone familiar with the channel would want to take the dinghy to shallow areas if the body is  completely in the water (just below the surface of the water – my other scenario).

    If anyone wishes to engage me further I prefer that they do it on the above referenced blog where I have a large number of analytical comments on most of the case (visual perception regarding the dinghy colour etc; memory – as it applies to Sue’s claim of shock and memory confusion problems regarding what I termed a “critical 5 hour block” of loss of her episodic memory for the afternoon of the 26th, as well to some eyewitness statements and the fallibility & malleability of memory for briefly seen visual events and objects; a physically plausible hypothesis for secondary transfer of DNA;time sequence of events, etc) which enabled me to reach a beyond doubt conclusion on this controversial and wholly circumstantial case.

    #27 JOHNO

    Hence why one needs to go to considerable depth of analysis on various parts of the case to see whether it is a watertight beyond reasonable doubt case. But it requires a lot of time, good analytical skills and the relevant technical/scientific/medical knowledge, etc. One also needs to remove all personal feelings and beliefs and try to stay as objective as possible. A lot of learning of new material is needed.

    Cheers,

    Peter Lozo

  19. JOHNNO TAYLOR

    December 3, 2016 at 12:38 am

    An interesting comparison is the Farquharson case in Victoria – documented by highly regarded writer Helen Garner. It shows how difficult it is for any police investigation or prosecution to make clear sense of a spontaneous unplanned violent act whether performed with intent or not.

  20. Dr Peter Lozo

    December 2, 2016 at 5:18 pm

    Dr McMinn,

    I was talked into clarifying some of my earlier comments given the tension that arose:

    1. It is reasonable to assume that a person of average intelligence wouldn’t have been naive to lower the body onto the dinghy without giving some thought to how to later lift it out. That is what I meant by my statement about giving Sue credit of being able to problem solve when in a situation of having to dump a heavy object using her dinghy, irrespective of what that object is.

    2. A lot of people seem to think that the body was on the floor of the dinghy but this did not necessarily have to have been the case given the size, capability and the stability of her 3.6m long inflatable dinghy.

    3. I tried to develop a scenario involving MV but it didn’t work out for many reasons. Thus, I wasn’t solely focused on Sue.

    4.  What would I do if my relative or a good friend was in exactly the same scenario as Sue: I would most certainly try to find holes in the case. I would get excited over any new evidence that might prove my relative’s (or friend’s) innocence. In that sense, I can empathise with Sue’s family and friends.

    You wrote a lovely letter about your time with your friend.

    Cheers and best wishes in your quest.

    Peter Lozo

  21. Roger Morgan

    November 30, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    #24 John. I agree with that. Having an alibi is a powerful form of defence. Sue tried to provide more than one alibi but it was discovered over a period of couple of months that it was all false. Her supporters can ignore Sue’s ever-changing story and use her memory problem defence theory. The police hypothesis is more solid than Sue’s final alibi of having a memory problem due to shock etc.

    One can expect that a sail boat of the size of the Four Winds to have large winches with a power ratio of at least 20:1. Even if we consider a smaller winch with a power ratio of only 10:1 it would mean that the force that a person needs to apply to the handle of the winch in order to lift a weight of 65 kg from the saloon onto the deck would be equivalent to lifting about 7kg. Was Sue able to lift 7- 10 kg? If  she was able to haul herself from a dinghy onto the yacht then she must have been able to exert enough force  onto the winch handle to pull Bob’s body.

    Dr McMinn wrote “For these reasons, I feel strongly that Sue could not have committed Bob Chappell’s murder and the disposal of his body in the way that the Crown alleged. At the very least, my observation of Sue’s back pain and lifting limitations cast reasonable doubt upon the police hypothesis that was advanced during the trial.”

    My assessment is that Dr Lozo used his physics knowledge to challenge the way Dr McMinn applied his medical knowledge to  knock down the physical plausibility of the Crown’s case against Sue. For example (and as you wrote) Dr Lozo explained that Sue could have used the winch to assist her in positioning the body onto the dinghy in a manner that would require little effort to later push the body off the dinghy.

    Dr McMinn and and Mrs Giddings used Mr Stevenson’s court testimony to claim that Sue could not have operated the winch to haul Bob’s body out of the yacht. Dr Lozo challenged both of their comments on this with a convincing scientific argument that the force required to winch a sail under a load of wind is significantly larger than the force required to winch the weight of an adult man and that therefore Mr Stevenson’s testimony cannot be used to claim that Sue didn’t have the strength to carry out the latter.

    Those of us who appreciate the mechanics of the problem can appreciate the difference between the arguments presented here. I agree with the scientist’s explanation in this instance.

  22. John

    November 30, 2016 at 1:26 am

    “God help you if you ever end up in a similar situation to Sue Neill-Fraser.”

    I don’t think he would lie about his whereabouts if he was innocent. Alibis that check out are very powerful but don’t always save an innocent person.

  23. Peter McMinn

    November 29, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    Dr Lozo,

    I had planned to leave this thread alone after my last comment. However, your gratuitous and odious statement, which I quote – “It is amazing how an emotional attachment to a person via friendship can blind even very educated people from realising that the wind force acting on a sail of a medium sized yacht can be huge compared to the weight of an adult man and that a component of that force will resist the pull of the winch when lifting the sail” – was beneath contempt.

    I have operated sailing dinghies and powered dinghies (rigid and inflatable) since the age of ten and in places as various as Sydney Harbour, Darwin Harbour, the Derwent River, King George Sound, Esperance Bay and the Swan River. From this experience, I am fully aware of the effect that wind force under sail has on the operation of winches.

    The primary purpose of my letter was to raise awareness of my personal experience of Sue Neill-Fraser’s good character and of my professional opinion of her back injury, which I maintain is highly relevant to the case.

    For reasons unclear to me, you choose to focus one issue: the question of whether Sue could operate a winch to lift a 65-kg weight. Maybe she could; maybe she couldn’t. In the absence of evidence i.e. an eyewitness, I don’t presume to know. From my perspective, it is not important because it is mere speculation.

    Clearly your blind-spot is in assuming, given the absence of any credible evidence, that Sue had anything to do with Bob Chappell’s disappearance. Instead, you allow yourself to become bogged down in the minutiae of the ways and means by which somebody of similar age, size and physical strength to Sue could have acted in the way the Crown alleged.

    As I said in my previous posting, we will never agree on the fundamental issues of this case and it doesn’t reflect well on you to direct sneering comments at someone who is acting out of friendship and loyalty toward a friend in dire need. God help you if you ever end up in a similar situation to Sue Neill-Fraser. I will leave it to the Tasmanian Times readership to decide on the relative merits of our respective positions.

  24. Dr Peter Lozo

    November 29, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    My closing remarks on this thread:

    1. It is amazing how an emotional attachment to a person via friendship can blind even very educated people from realising that the wind force acting on a sail of a medium sized yacht can be huge compared to the weight of an adult man and that a component of that force will resist the pull of the winch when lifting the sail. A sheet of cloth that is a few kilos in weight can be used to propel a big yacht because of the huge total force exerted by the wind onto the stretched surface of a large sail cloth! 

    2. As I stressed earlier, the testimony of the sailor needs to be considered within its context. The task of winching a sail under the load of wind (which is what the sailor was talking about) is a significantly harder task than winching the body of an adult male.

    3. Anyone who hasn’t had experience with winching a sail and doesn’t trust my scientific opinion about the forces involved can view youtube videos of people winching a sail. It will be observed that the task initially appears to be very easy. A person can turn the handle with one hand and do it quickly. As time progresses and more of the sail cloth surface is exposed to the wind the task gets harder and harder. Then two hands are required. Even with two hands, a lot of effort is required. 

    4. Without fully understanding the State’s evidence and without taking into account Sue’s relevant experience and knowledge (with the yacht, the winches and the dinghy) I don’t know how anyone can make a reasonable decision on Sue’s guilt or innocence.

    5.Having reviewed a large number of comments from Sue’s supporters  as part of my research into this case since April 2015, I saw a lot of lack of understanding and a lot of misconception about various bits of the circumstantial evidence that was presented at Sue’s trial. No wonder there is so much unease about this case.

    6. If my understanding of the very recent TT article by Eve Ash is correct, the very judge who sentenced Sue is assigned to replace J Tennent.

    “With the judge on Sue’s case, J Alan Blow, now the current Chief Justice of Tasmania, it is even more important to get this right.

    See

    http://oldtt.pixelkey.biz/index.php?/pr-article/4-million-minutes-for-sue-neill-fraser/#sthash.ahcLPzKN.dpuf

    I wonder whether Sue and her legal team will object to J Blow’s involvement.

  25. Dr Peter Lozo

    November 28, 2016 at 10:26 am

    #17 John: Spot on!!

    #20 Dr McMinn:

    Agreed on first para.

    I do not have any emotional attachment to either side (am not related nor am friends with either family nor was hired by anyone to represent their interest). It is a personal challenge to see whether I can provide a more thorough and an objective understanding to some complex issues whilst learning something about forensic science.

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and opinions. I hope that you becoming more active at a higher level (i.e. expert witness). Hence why I suggest that you submit an affidavit to Barbara Etter.

    Best wishes,

    Peter Lozo

  26. Peter McMinn

    November 28, 2016 at 7:54 am

    From the tenor of our postings in response to my original letter, it is clear we will never agree on the fundamental issues of this case. Indeed, we have radically different perspectives on it. You seem to treat it as an interesting intellectual exercise or as a puzzle to be solved, whereas for me it is about a dear friend who is serving a long prison sentence for a crime that I believe she did not commit.

    If you accept the verdict and sentence handed to Sue Neill-Fraser, then you can say that justice has been served for Bob Chappell and his children. However, his body has never been recovered and his family’s grief must surely be exacerbated by that fact. If, as I and many other people believe, Sue did not murder Bob Chappell, then she and her two lovely daughters must be included among the group of people who grieve for him and seek closure for his untimely death. Add to that four grandchildren, three of whom have been born since Sue was incarcerated, who can only occasionally visit their grandmother in a gaol, and the human dimension of this tragic case becomes all the more compelling.

    Whilst at one level it is perfectly legitimate to regard notorious murder cases as interesting puzzles to be solved, I intend to leave that to the people who do not know or care for Sue. Given that Sue is my friend and that I believe in her innocence, I now intend to focus my energies on supporting her whilst she remains in gaol and in assisting her legal appeals until she is eventually set free and returned to her lovely family.

  27. Dr Peter Lozo

    November 28, 2016 at 7:45 am

    #12 Lynn

    # 14 Rosemary

    Has been quite a while since we communicated.  I don’t have time to go into all the issues you mention but yes I have been aware for some time (over a year and a half) about some unidentified DNA. Four Winds is an old yacht that had at least one other owner before Sue and Bob. Previous owners and their guests could have left some DNA. Anyway, it wasn’t a relevant issue in my own conclusion after analysing the whole case. I went into this case quite extensively as you are both aware from my numerous comments since April last year on at least half a dozen TT threads.

    As for the winch being used:
    the very evidence of the winch and ropes being used is highly suggestive to me that a single person was involved and that that person was experienced with winches and ropes (or knew about the mechanical advantage of using the winch and the ropes) and that it took a lot of time. It is also highly suggestive to me that the person wasn’t a strong person (a strong person wouldn’t spend a lot of time rigging the winch to pull the body) but would simply pull out the body with ropes if not directly by hands.

    Neill-Fraser has no alibi for her whereabouts from the time she boarded the yacht at around 2pm until around 9 pm when she made her first phone call from her home landline. That is about 7 hours during which a lot of the above mentioned preparation (winch rigging) work may have been done. I don’t see why the body wouldn’t have been winched up onto the deck during the early evening and then lowered into the dinghy and dumped much later in the evening (upon Sue’s return to the yacht late in the evening-early hours next morning).

    I don’t see the relevance of the point regarding how the ropes were left wound around the winch. One cannot conclude on the basis of how the ropes were left that it wasn’t Sue who used the winch to manouvre Bob’s body.

     I do have practical experience in using a winch to winch a boat onto a trailer (besides my theoretical & mathematical understanding of how and why a winch provides a significant mechanical advantage to the human operator). I also had a talk with someone from my local surf-life saving club last year about the stability of inflatable dingies (almost arranged to borrow their’s for a 30 minute experiment). 

    As I stated earlier on this thread: it is much easier to winch a 65kg body out of the saloon than it is to use the same winch to lift up a sail under a load (wind). Wind can generate a lot of extra resistance during the raising of the sail depending on its speed (doubling the wind speed quadriples the pressure on the sail). Thus Mr Stevenson’s testimony needs to be considered with an understanding that the wind condition, the extended area of the sail (as well as the characteristics of the winch)  is relevant to how much strength a person needs to have in order to lift the sail via the winch. One cannot use his testimony to therefore conclude with ceerainty that Sue wouldn’t have been able to use that winch to pull a 65kg body out of the yacht’s saloon and onto the deck.

    I do encourage Dr McMinn to submit an affidavit to Sue’s lawyer (Barbara Etter).

    But will Dr McMinn’s affidavit be judged as being relevant and admissible given that the injury was many years ago? 

     In fact I would be delighted if her legal team were to get affidavits from various experts on different aspects of the case on which I commented (visual perception, memory, secondary transfer of DNA, etc). Makes the case more interesting and gives the current appeal more strength. 

    As for the CRC: great idea. 

    Peter

    Ps: Do SN-F supporters have a common understanding of the evidence that was presented by the prosecution? It is a waste of my time  to address some odd opinions from some of you.

  28. Rosemary

    November 28, 2016 at 2:35 am

    2 important points:-

    1. There is no real evidence that a murder took place or that the dinghy was used to dispose of the body. That is only speculation in the crown narrative. There is only a missing person. And no evidence that a body even went into the water.

    2. There is no evidence that there was blood in the dinghy. In fact the Prosecutor said in the trial that he never believed there was any blood in the dinghy even though the narrative speculated heavily on weapons and violent injuries e.g. Stabbing by a screw driver which would involve blood loss. (And therefore expectation of some of that blood being in the dinghy)

    So the story is getting thinner and thinner.

    Hence any discussion re winches etc. is just bloating the story in my view.

  29. John

    November 28, 2016 at 1:40 am

    Dr Lozo has an interesting and novel point. He is basically saying that, with the help of the winch, the body of the deceased could have been placed onto the dinghy in a position that made it easy for the person (Sue) to later remove it with minimum physical exertion and risk to personal safety. As far as I am aware, all other commentators on TT (including Dr McMinn) assumed that the body was lowered onto the dinghy floor and was thus inside the dinghy. Had the body been laid out on the floor of the dinghy then I can understand the relevance of Dr McMinn’s point. The question then is what would Sue have done? I tend to think that a person who doesn’t have sufficient physical strength to lift the 65kg body out of the dinghy but has good experience with ropes, the relevant yacht and its winches and the dinghy is most likely to use them to position the body onto the dinghy in such a position that would make it for easy removal.

    In the scenario described by Dr Lozo, the winch has an indirect role in the final effort required to remove the body off the dinghy.

  30. Peter McMinn

    November 28, 2016 at 12:05 am

    Dr Lozo,
    You are correct in that if you accept the police hypothesis for Bob Chappell’s murder and the disposal of his body, then there are several hypothetical means by which it could have been achieved within the overall scheme that was advanced. However, to use your phrase, it can also be considered narrow-minded to assume that the police hypothesis is the only way to explain Bob Chappell’s disappearance. I think that this is the crucial point upon which people on opposing sides of this argument disagree.
    You also stated that it is an insult to Sue’s intelligence to suggest that she did not think of similar ways and means to dispose of the body to the ones you described. This again makes the tunnel-visioned assumption that the police hypothesis is correct. Sue is a very good friend of mine and (correct me if I am wrong) you have never met her. Given this, I say that it is an even larger insult to Sue’s intelligence to assume that she would have committed such a crime in the way the police alleged, so publicly in the Sandy Bay yacht mooring area, which would so obviously draw the suspicion of the police upon her.
    Bearing in mind that there is no evidence that the Four Winds’ dinghy was used to dispose of Bob Chappell’s body, I’ll offer the following critique of your analysis. Irrespective of the wind and choppiness on the afternoon in question, a prudent boatman would anticipate that there would still be a high swell running for some time after the wind abated, especially if venturing out to an area of deep water and particularly at night. To weigh down the bow of the boat as you suggested increases the risk of waves running across the bow and swamping the boat. Anyone will tell you that weight should be distributed low and aft in an inflatable dinghy to maximise stability. Lashing the body to the gunwale or along the side of the boat is also very problematic. Given that the body would not be fully rigid, there is a reasonable chance it could slip from the lashings and be deposited much more closely inshore than the perpetrator intended, leading to a higher risk of discovery. In my experience, hypothetical scenarios such as you describe rarely go to plan in practice. Ropes slip; weights redistribute; plans go awry. In the absence of evidence, it is possible to add supposition to hypothesis in an almost infinite progression.
    In regard to Sue’s back problems, I know what I saw with my trained eye and I clearly remember the discussions I had with Sue concerning her back problems. … Scans were taken. Records were kept. …
    In the end, it all comes down to the issue of reasonable doubt. There is no evidence of Sue’s involvement in Bob Chappell’s disappearance. An experienced yachtsman stated under oath that Sue did not have the strength to operate the winches. Sue suffered a significant back injury in her early thirties that typically results in accelerated osteoarthritis of the spine, which limits the ability of the back to bend and also induces referred sciatic nerve pain upon weight bearing. To my mind, these things constitute reasonable doubt and nobody should spend seven years in gaol in the face of such doubt.

  31. Dr Peter Lozo

    November 27, 2016 at 6:03 pm

    #8 Dr Peter M.

    In my first two comments on this thread I addressed the issue of getting the body out of the yacht and onto the dinghy. Here I address the issue of lifting the body over the side of the dinghy. This issue has been a concern to a lot of Sue’s supporters.

    1. You assumed that the weighing object was tied snug against the body and that therefore it would have been necessary to simultaneously lift the body and the weighing object over the side of the dinghy.

     The weighing object could have been attached to the body by a length of rope (after the body was lowered into the dinghy) and then dropped first out of the dinghy.

    2. You assumed that there is only one way to lift and tip the body out of the dinghy “while almost certainly in a crouched and highly flexed back position.”

    The body could have been lowered and positioned onto the dinghy in a way that would enable it to be easily tipped out or rolled off . For example, the body could have been positioned to lie across the bow before detaching the winch. Then it is simple enough to just roll it off with little effort.

    Alternatively, a rope under the body and tied to the handles of the inflatable dingy could have also been used to enable the person to lift the body and tip it out by pulling on the rope whilst sitting on the opposite side and using own legs to push against the sides of the dinghy to get the additional strength and the stability. No risk of falling out or tipping the dinghy over. 

    Yet another plausible alternate method is where the body could have been lowered to be completely in the water and then tied  to the dinghy before disengaging the winch. Or it could have been folded to rest across the inflatible tube, etc.

    It is thus a bit narrow minded to suggest that the person would almost certainly be in a crouched and highly flexed back position. 

    Surely an intelligent person like Sue who has had considerable experience with yachts, winches, ropes and the dinghy would have been well aware of her own physical limitations as well as the limitation of the relevant winch and the dinghy and would have therefore used her experience and knowledge to lower the body using the the winch and position it in a way that would enable her to later dump the body without too much effort. I am surprised that Sue’s own supports, family and friends do not give her any credit for her intelligence, experience and problem solving skills

    Also, living with a physicist (Bob) for almost two decades Sue would have very likely picked up some useful tips from him on how to use mechanical devices to her advantage, etc.

    3. You are assuming that Sue’s strength hadn’t recovered at all and that her residual physical strength wasn’t sufficient enough..If there was medical evidence that was relevant then surely it would have been produced at the trial. The only thing that Sue complained in terms of any medical issues (after Bob’s disappearance) were memory problems and blackouts.

    4. Thus, while I learned something useful from you I don’t think that it is very relevant to whether or not Sue was able to dump the body from the dinghy.

    Peter

    ps: it was very choppy in the afternoon; the weather prediction was a calm evening.

  32. Rosemary

    November 27, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    #4 The problem is Dr Lozo, it wasn’t the prosecution’s evidence but a theory.

    “Are you aware that the prosecution evidence was that the yacht’s winch and ropes were used to pull the body out of the yacht’s saloon and to lower it into the dinghy?”

    You too are very good at theory and experiments but the missing link is lack of actual real world experience.

    The winch speculation was not properly tested e.g. That very unscientific demo with the police renanactment.

    We just go in circles with the ‘guessing’ what happened as there was no proof against Sue just speculation . Hence so much doubt. I am surprised that you cannot accept the observations of a very qualified and experienced Medical doctor. … In law it is not up to Sue to prove her innocent but it is up to the crown to prove her guilt. With the lack of any real evidence there will always continue to be so much doubt around this trial.

    At this point in the proceedings everyone would like a proper wide inquiry such as could have occurred via the Coroner if he was not hampered and limited by legislation that prevented him from finding out anything different. The padlock around the information through the legal rules also prevents this. Now this is the wasteful way the legal system works with taxpayers money.

    The call for a proper criminal review commission may be the answer to that and save time and money.

    (edited)

  33. Dr Peter Lozo

    November 27, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    I searched through the trial transcript and didn’t find anything about a back injury or a physical handicap that would have prevented Sue from doing the relevant activity.

    One would have expected that had Sue had a significant enough old physical injury that limited her ability to lift then surely it would have been raised by Sue and her lawyers during the trial or the first appeal.

    I got an impression from Sue’s own statements that she was physically very agile and was physically more capable than Bob in boarding the yacht from the dinghy (and vice versa) during very choppy conditions prevailed on the 26th.

    The only reference in the trial transcript to any injuries was the cut to her right thumb and an apparent wrist injury. There was no medical evidence provided to support that her wrist injury occurred before the 26th Jan. Both are believed to have occurred  after her meeting with Bob’s sister in the morning of the 26th.

  34. Lynn Giddings

    November 27, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    Dr Lozo,

    We are all aware of the prosecution’s evidence of winching and undoubtedly the winches were used. Sue assisted the police in what she believed was the investigation of a missing person by pointing out the faults with the winches and their ropes.

    The point you keep missing, Dr Lozo, is, it was not Sue using them; it was one or two or three or four other people. Sue would never have left the winches with ropes wound the wrong way.

    Dr Lozo, the evidence of Mr Peter Stevenson is supported now by Dr Peter McMinn. Mr Stevenson did not believe Sue could physically wind up the sail through the winch on her own, “she just didn’t have the strength to do it”.

    He stated that his co-sailor and he, whom he described as ‘heavier blokes’, found it difficult because the winches were large, of an older type without self-tailing apparatus, requiring one to winch and one to tail: evidence that the very large winch required much physical strength. In fact, he didn’t think that either Bob or Sue had the strength to operate the yacht.

    The prosecutor used this assessment in his cross-examination of Sue and suggested that neither she nor Mr Chappell could manage the yacht on their own, “you couldn’t do the physical things associated with it. You couldn’t winch up the main sail”. He even conceded, “To get rid of the body would have involved some effort …”

    Dr Lozo, are you aware there are two unidentified male DNA on the yacht?

  35. Dr Peter Lozo

    November 27, 2016 at 11:56 am

    #8 Peter

    Was the “attack” on Sue or on the nature of your comment?

    You might know high school physics but why assume that everyone who read your comment would too?

    If there was an issue with Sue’s physical weakness and back problems at the time that was relevant to this case then it would have been raised by her and her lawyers. Winching a sail under a load (wind) is much harder than winching a dead weight of 65 kg. You mention the evidence of the two sailors. They also testified that Sue told them that she and Bob were separated for some time and that she might need to borrow money from her mum to buy out Bob’s share of the yacht. She lied. I mention this because it gives you some insight into Sue’s character in the weeks prior to Bob’s disappearance.

    But, you aren’t too late. You can still do something for Sue. Provide an affidavit to her lawyers regarding your understanding of her back problems, etc.

  36. Geraldine Allan

    November 27, 2016 at 11:11 am

    I forgot to say a simple but heartfelt thank-you Dr. Peter.

  37. Geraldine Allan

    November 27, 2016 at 11:10 am

    #8, Peter you are a breath of fresh air and valuable contributor to our discussions, which at times have been indeed challenging.

    I sincerely hope your lead article attacts the contributions it deserves and that it is not bombarded with negative nonsence.

  38. Peter McMinn

    November 26, 2016 at 10:37 pm

    Dr Lozo,

    Thanks for the patronising lecture on high school physics, but it was unnecessary on two counts.

    Firstly, the winch has no relevance in regard to how Sue was alleged to have lifted the weighted body out of the dinghy and into the sea, while almost certainly in a crouched and highly flexed back position. Even in a flat sea (which is rarely the case in Storm Bay), it is necessary to expend a large amount of muscular effort to maintain balance while moving about and/or shifting heavy weights around in dinghies. I have spent years scuba diving in the heavy seas off the coast of Albany and Esperance in WA and and so have personal knowledge of how difficult this is. Moreover, I have directly observed Sue’s inability to lift a 20 kg weight from a straight-backed, knee-flexed position on firm ground, which is far easier than attempting to do so in a dinghy, let alone lifting a 65 kg body PLUS the weights.

    Secondly, the experienced yachtsman who helped to ferry the Four Winds to Hobart testified that Sue did not have the physical strength to operate the winches on the yacht. It appears that your comments on winches and the mechanical advantage they offer are theoretical. You admit that you have no experience of yachting and certainly never personally checked the winches on the Four Winds. I haven’t either and thus have no idea of the rated or actual mechanical advantage provided by the winches on the Four Winds, assuming that they were properly maintained and operating correctly. Given this, the yachtsman’s testimony seems very relevant.

    Finally, my original letter to the Tasmanian Times was to offer my observations of the good character and physical infirmities of Sue Neill-Fraser when I knew her in the 1980’s. Sue and I were friends long enough for me to form a very high opinion of her character. I don’t know who you are or what your motivation is for attacking Sue and anyone who speaks positively on her behalf. Sue was a very good friend to me many years ago and I intend to honour that friendship by defending her character now that she is not in any position to defend herself from such online bullying.

  39. William Griffin

    November 26, 2016 at 6:48 pm

    This is just another example of reasons that this like other convictions in Tasmania just are too far fetched to except as believable, in my view. Sadly Betty it is how a lot of people see Tasmania as a corrupt system.Sadly there seems a pattern in my opinion of theories being presented in court’s as fact and …

    (edited)

  40. Kris Klugman

    November 26, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    Yet more evidence that the conviction of Sue is unsafe.

  41. Dr Peter Lozo

    November 26, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    Mechanical advantage of a winch

    For those who don’t have a good mechanical understanding of why it would have been relatively easy for Sue (despite some back problems) to lift a dead weight of 65kg or so out of the yacht’s saloon and lower it into the dinghy, here is a brief description of how a winch effectively acts as a force multiplier to help a human lift or pull much heavier objects than they would have been able to do it directly with their own physical strength:

    “Essentially, a winch consists of a set of gears that provide the user with a mechanical advantage. In a hand-cranked winch, the crank is attached to a very small gear. This gear meshes with a larger gear inside the winch that directly or indirectly rotates the spool. Each turn of the crank equals one turn of the small gear, but only a fraction of a turn of the larger gear and spool. This means that you might turn a winch fifty times for each coil of the rope. The ratio of the gears allows them to use the effort exerted over a long period of time into the force necessary to coil rope under a heavy load”.

    http://www.thomasnet.com/about/winches-94054806.html

  42. Dr Peter Lozo

    November 26, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    Dr McMinn,

    Are you aware that the prosecution evidence was that the yacht’s winch and ropes were used to pull the body out of the yacht’s saloon and to lower it into the dinghy? Thus, Sue wouldn’t have had to exert much physical effort in order to achieve this. She was experienced with yachts and the winching mechanisms.The police did an experiment (somewhat limited though) to prove that a 100kg detective could not resist the pulling force applied via the manual winch. What is lacking is the minimum force that a human needed to exert onto the winch in order to achieve this feat. However, I very much doubt that the physical human strength required would be anywhere near as much as it would be required to manually pull the body up a short flight of stairs with ropes alone. Although I am not familiar with the actual winch nor do I have any yachting experience, I can imagine how the winching mechanism can amplify the force exerted by a human.

    Thus, one needs to have a good understanding of the prosecution’s case before offering opinions. In this case, an understanding of the mechanical advantage afforded by a winching mechanism is very relevant.

    Peter Lozo, BSc, PhD
    Applied Physicist/Perceptual Scientist
    Adelaide, SA

  43. Lynn Giddings

    November 26, 2016 at 10:42 am

    Thank you Peter for showing us the real Sue that many in the Support Group would also recognise in the same way. And for the many who have never met her but believe there is so much doubt her case needs looking at again, this is a reassuring message to hang in there and be there for Sue. Encouraging.

  44. Leveller

    November 26, 2016 at 10:38 am

    It’s about time a FEDERAL ROYAL COMMISSION into TASMANIA was held. There has been far too many instance’s of doubt over many issue’s from POLITICAL CORRUPTION to POLICE and LEGAL mis-justice’s in our STATE that is and has been run for decade’s now by a very few powerful FAMILIES in both the JUDICIARY and TASMANIA POLICE. The toothless tiger INTEGRITY COMMISSION simply does not have the legislative power to investigate a rigged chook-raffle or look at the latest scandal question over the use of the Tasmania State Government’s 3,000+ plus fuel card’s. If this was in any other State and Territory of AUSTRALIA there would be an immediate criminal inquiry into such criminal fraudulent activities, but what to we get? a bit fat NOTHING TO SEE HERE, MOVE ON.

  45. Betty

    November 26, 2016 at 9:27 am

    Justice for SUE is Justice for TASMANIA, which has sadly become the most corrupt State in AUSTRALIA.

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