Another Response to Tasmania Police Media Release from the lead Investigating Inspector dated 25 August 2014 in Sue Neill-Fraser Case
In a media release from Tasmania Police dated 25 August 2014, in response to issues raised in Sunday's 60 Minutes in the Sue Neill-Fraser case, the Inspector who led the investigation stated:
It should also be remembered that many witnesses give varying accounts of descriptions and what they have seen. In regard to possible sightings of the yacht or other dinghies it should be remembered that some of the witnesses were several hundred metres away from the location of the "Four Winds".
In response to this comment, there were four witnesses that saw a grey/silver or different dinghy to that of the Four Winds dinghy (white inflatable with blue stripes and "Quicksilver" on it) alongside the Four Winds yacht between 3.55 pm and 5.30 pm on Australia Day 2009. An examination of their evidence/statements reveals the following distances:
P 36 - 50 metres away and looked at the yacht through her binoculars
Paul Conde - 50 "yards" away
Thomas Clarke - estimated "no closer than 100 metres away" (on the same boat as Conde)
Jill Ikin - estimate only by writer - 600 metres plus
Therefore only one of the 4 witnesses was "several hundred metres away".
Note, Ikin (who appeared on 60 Mins), in her written statement of 2 October 2009, taken after Sue Neill-Fraser had been arrested, referred to the colour of the dinghy she saw as "the normal grey unpainted aluminium colour". The Coroner notes in his report of 17 January 2014 that Ikin was not called at the hearing and stated (at p.23):
Ikin in her statutory declaration also noted that she contacted police within a few days of the disappearance that there is no entry in the police investigation log in relation to that and there was no formal statement taken from her until 8 months later and she was not called as a witness.
Following investigation, I am reasonably satisfied that there has been an oversight in the failure to record on the police investigation log, the initial contact with witness Ikin however, it must be accepted there was some note or reference of it for police to follow it up with her in October 2009. (reproduced as the above passages appear in the Coroner's decision)
(Please read the Coroner's decision for the full text dealing with Ms Ikin. See http://www.magistratescourt.tas.gov.au/decisions/coronial_findings/c/chappell,_robert_adrian_-_2014_tascd_04)