2,000 Days in Gaol for Sue Neill-Fraser Today - 11 February 2015
Sadly, today marks 2,000 days in gaol for Sue Neill-Fraser after she was found guilty of the 2009 murder of her long-time partner, Mr Bob Chappell. The murder occurred on Australia Day 2009 on board the Four Winds yacht moored off Battery Point/Sandy Bay.
Most Australians were concerned by the 400 days that Australian journalist Peter Greste wrongly spent in an Egyptian gaol.
Evidence is mounting, particularly in relation to the forensic science presented at trial, that the Sue Neill-Fraser conviction is unsafe. Consider, for instance, that the DNA of a homeless girl, who has no alibi for the night in question and who lied about her wherabouts that evening, has been shown by independent expert evidence from Victoria to be more than likely deposited directly onto the deck of the Four Winds yacht (rather than being brought in on the bottom of someone else's shoe, as argued in court, even in the High Court). The homeless girl has also denied ever being on that yacht.
There are clear issues, in light of independent expert reports, with the initial crime scene processing/photography, the bloodstain pattern analysis, the luminol testing and the presentation of results to the court, and the so-called winching "reconstruction". As in the SA Henry Keogh case, it will be argued that there simply is no "mechanism of murder" or body disposal theory which is consistent with the available evidence.
There is also the worrying grey dinghy that was seen by four different people tied up to the Four Winds yacht in the late afternoon of Australia Day 2009.
Moreover, there are also now several reasonable alternative hypotheses as to what occurred to Bob Chappell on Australia Day 2009 in what was acknowledged by the courts to be an entirely circumstantial case.
The Sue Neill-Fraser support group members will be holding a series of vigil in key locations around Hobart today, at lunch time, and this evening, to voice their concern about the case, heighten community awareness and to call upon the Tasmanian Attorney-General to introduce appropriate further right to appeal legislation at the earliest opportunity.
It took Henry Keogh 5 petitions for mercy and nearly 20 years before the courts recognised how seriously flawed the forensic science was and to acknowledge that there had been a substantial miscarriage of justice (see recent previous blogs on this issue). It is hoped that our criminal justice system in Tasmania will be more responsive to growing local, national and international concern about this case. Confidence in our justice system is paramount.