High Court grants leave for George Pell appeal

The High Court today (Wednesday, November 13, 2019) has granted leave for George Pell to appeal the decision of the Court of Appeal which upheld his conviction in December last year on one charge of sexual penetration with a child under 16 and four counts of indecent act with, or in the presence of, a child under 16, relating to two separate incidents at the cathedral in 1996 and 1997.

The appeal will be held in early 2010.

See our previous reports for more on this case:
Onus of proof reversed
Dissenting voices
Conviction upheld

Posted in Case 07 George Pell | 6 Comments

Sue Neill-Fraser appeal set for March 2020

Justice Helen Wood has set the date for appeal against Sue Neill-Fraser’s murder conviction, for March 2 – 13, 2020, after DPP Darryl Coates estimated it would take two week; Neill-Fraser’s lawyer, Chris Carr, had estimated just 3 – 4 days.

Rosie Crompton-Cook, Secretary of the Sue Neill-Fraser Support Group was one of the 11 members attending the directions hearing yesterday (Tuesday, November 12, 2019) in Hobart’s Supreme Court. She reports as follows: Sue was video-linked into court from Risdon Prison. She was represented by Chris Carr, who was video-linked into court from Melbourne. The DPP, Daryl Coates and Jack Shapiro represented the Crown.

The Hearing focussed on the Draft Appeal Book index, which had been filed by Chris Carr.

Meaghan Vass on 60 Minutes, March 10, 2019

Mr Carr asked that the Judge, Helen Wood, issue an order to the Nine Network Australia to produce unedited footage of the Meaghan Vass interview on 60 Minutes, plus a transcript of that interview. Mr Carr indicated that he had discussed this with the Nine Network and was confident that they had the footage and that they would have no objection to releasing it. The Judge, issued the order, requiring the Nine Network to provide the footage and transcript to the Supreme Court by 4.15pm on 29 November 2019. The Judge also gave the Nine Network opportunity to object to releasing the material. (On 60 Minutes, Vass admitted she had witnessed a fight on board Four Winds, where her DNA had been found. Neill-Fraser was not there, she said.)

Chris Carr also indicated that there had been discussions about how the Appeal may be conducted in an efficient way and he suggested that there be a limited number of witnesses, and a winnowing of the Appeal Book after the prosecution have viewed the Nine Network footage. Mr Carr stated that much of the Appeal timetabling would necessarily await the footage having been viewed, and the DPP’s response to that.

Mr Carr suggested that both parties rely on evidence given in the leave application, as if it was given in the appeal, except for the evidence given by Ms Vass, which will be need to be tendered in person. Mr Carr stated that the evidence of Meaghan Vass lies at the heart of the appeal and it was likely that she would be in the witness box for a reasonable period of time. He stated that the court would have to make findings of her credibility and reliability.

It was agreed that there would be a further Directions Hearing after the Nine Network footage was received and viewed. This was set down for 16 December 2019 at 4.15pm

Mr Coates then asked for the release of some exhibits – P7, P8, P74 and P76, from the original trial. The Mercury later reported that these exhibits were fingerprint lifts.

  • Neill-Fraser, 65, is serving a 23-year jail sentence for murdering her partner Bob Chappell, 65, on board the couple’s yacht Four Winds on Australia Day 2009. She has always maintained she is innocent.



Posted in Case 01 Sue Neill-Fraser | 1 Comment

Mystery woman with my email at Tamworth Court

Would the woman dressed in black at Tamworth court on Wednesday, November 6, out on bail apparently, who gave my email address to the distraught mother of a man in police custody please make contact with me when she can. She is not in trouble for doing so, indeed, it seems to have been an act of support.

I can’t go into further details except to say the mother (let’s call her Jill), and her husband, hold grave fears for their son’s treatment within our legal system. They are certain of their son’s innocence and worry for his three young children.

I will follow this case as best I can. Anyone with further information is invited to contact me by email to andrew.urban@wrongfulconvictionsreport.org

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Shaken Baby Syndrome convictions rely on junk science and tunnel vision

As we have reported, the reliability of forensic evidence is increasingly questioned; and Shaken Baby Syndrome convictions rely on junk science and tunnel vision, writes Chris Brook* in this extract from his latest blog. Continue reading

Posted in General articles | 2 Comments

Forensic evidence under the microscope – looks sick

Andrew L. Urban.

Within a single week in October this year (2019), the quality of forensic evidence tendered in criminal trials across Australia came under the microscope of public attention – and was found to be infected with the disease of unreliability.  Continue reading

Posted in General articles | 6 Comments

Pell appeal judges reversed onus of proof

In seeking leave to appeal to the High Court, George Pell’s lawyers argue that the approach taken by the majority judges at his appeal ­required Pell to “establish actual innocence”, rather than “merely pointing to doubt”, which was a reversal of the onus and standard of proof, adding, “Rigid application of the onus and stand­ard of proof in 21st-century sexual assault trials in Australia is of particula­r importance.” Continue reading

Posted in Case 07 George Pell | 4 Comments

Steve Fennell not a murderer – jury got it wrong

Andrew L. Urban.

The High Court in Canberra adjourned for just four minutes before resuming at 2.45pm on Wednesday, September 11, 2019, with a unanimous decision that Steven Fennell’s appeal against his murder conviction should be allowed. A verdict of acquittal was entered. “I was in my cell about to eat my yoghurt when prison officers came to the door and said, `you’re going’,” he told The Courier-Mail. Continue reading

Posted in Case 10 Steven Fennell | 1 Comment

Is there evidentiary basis for shaken baby syndrome? The conviction of Joby Rowe

Chris Brook.

Joby Rowe’s 2018 conviction for child homicide was based solely on forensic evidence that openly and overtly lacked any scientific basis, with expert opinions based instead on confession studies. This case raises fundamental questions for forensic science in Australia, primarily: should forensic evidence be scientific? Or should it appeal to authority? Continue reading

Posted in Case 09 Joby Rowe | 3 Comments

Sarah Ward – the dead of night

It happened around 4am on June 7, 2008. Sarah Ward had been drinking and smoking dope. She took a friend’s car and went out for cigarettes with another friend. The young musicians they came across that dark night in Christie Lane, St Leonards, Sydney, had also been drinking. The altercation that ensued left one of the young men dead and Ward convicted of his murder. A man and his sister have a history with the dead man and believe this is a wrongful conviction. They tell a story which challenges the one that convicted her. Anthony Nikolich & Helen Keys put the case for Sarah Ward. Continue reading

Posted in Case 08 Sarah May Ward | 3 Comments

Qld & Vic prosecutors set example for Tas prosecutor

Dr Bob Moles & Andrew L. Urban. 

It was made clear last night on the SBS program Insight – Wrongfully Convicted Part 2 (September 3, 2019), that the prosecutor in the Queensland case of Frank Button recognised that a significant error had occurred in relation to the DNA evidence in the case. As a consequence, the prosecutor ensured that the case was before the Court of Appeal within 24 hours. Continue reading

Posted in Case 01 Sue Neill-Fraser | 19 Comments