Tunnel vision and bad ‘science’ – a deadly mix in the justice system

A year before Julie Rea’s exoneration for the murder of her 10 year old son, the National Academy of Sciences released a report that called into doubt the reliability of bloodstain-pattern analysis – exactly what led to Rea’s conviction, coupled with a tunnel vision investigation. This is a shocking case that condemns both, as reported by Pamela Colloff in The New York Times Magazine (Dec. 20, 2018).  Australia’s criminal justice system suffers from the same symptoms.

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Journalists, authors, filmmakers hunt the truth in Sue Neill-Fraser case

Andrew L. Urban.

Two new books and a 6-part documentary series on the Seven Network – all investigating the murder conviction of Sue Neill-Fraser – will become available before and after the February 5, 2019, Tasmanian Supreme Court hearing into her seeking leave to appeal for a second time. None find evidence in favour of her conviction.

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What percent innocent?

Andrew L. Urban.

A former heavy duty senior detective friend of mine (now a security consultant with a caustic sense of humour) and I have a standing joke: when he mentions a convicted criminal he grins, saying to me, ‘He’s innocent, too, right?’ The joke began when talking about cases I was researching for my book, Murder by the Prosecution(Wilkinson Publishing), and names came up, like Gordon Wood. Jokes aside, it is pretty certain that a percentage of people convicted of serious crimes (here and internationally) are indeed innocent. The latest figures being quoted hover around 6% -7%.

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Colin McLaren searches, finds, tells

Andrew L. Urban.

‘Failure to search is failure to find’ goes the investigator’s mantra, and boy, does Ex-Detective Sergeant/Task Force Team Leader and latterly author Colin McLaren prove that to be true with his exhaustive and explosive book, JFK: The Smoking Gun (2013, Hachette). Now his new book is due out on January 29, 2019 – Southern Justice (Hachette), taking apart the tortured Sue Neill-Fraser case.  Continue reading

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How do you solve a problem like Lawyer X?

How does the State of Victoria mange a review of 380-odd criminal convictions in the wake of revelations about Lawyer X? As the law stands, the answer is ‘with enormous practical difficulty and delay’. Legal academic Dr Bob Moles and Associate Professor Bibi Sangha suggest how a fairly simple change in the law (as enacted by both South Australia and Tasmania recently) can resolve the problem created by Lawyer X.

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Sue Neill-Fraser – the ‘bias’ in my reporting

By Andrew L. Urban.

In the wake of the publication of my book, Murder by the Prosecution (Wilkinson Publishing, 2018), a few more people have muttered the word ‘bias’ in my direction, referring to the Sue Neill-Fraser case which makes up the bulk of the book. I say a few more because the word was invoked when I first started writing about the case. I think the suggestion is false; it has no merit.

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Justice Party’s public register “would be outrageous”

Andrew L. Urban.

In the wake of the Victorian State election on November 24, 2018, Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party (probably with four shiny Upper House seats) will seek to make public on a website the register of sexual offenders currently kept by police, including the photo and address of each offender. What is the objective of this policy? Is it wise?

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Why Dr Bob Moles is calling for a Royal Commission

Andrew L. Urban.

 Giving explosive evidence before the Budget & Finance Committee of the South Australian Legislative Council (November 5, 2018), Dr Bob Moles outlined why he believes a Royal Commission is needed into the State’s several failures in allowing the unqualified and discredited forensic pathologist Dr Colin Manock to continue his work – unchecked for decades.

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The Dreyfus Affair – 124 years later, not much change

Andrew L. Urban.

October 15 this year (2018) marks the 124th anniversary of the first of two dates that reverberate through the annals of justice, recalling one of the most infamous cases of a wrongful conviction – thanks to ill will and bad ‘science’. (Not much has changed.) On October 15, 1894, French Army Captain Alfred Dreyfus was arrested for treason – without any credible evidence. On October 15, 1906, Dreyfus was put in command of an artillery unit at Saint-Denis – having been fully exonerated in July that year.

His crime was said to have been passing secret information to the Germans Continue reading

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Murder by the Prosecution – first book review

Book review extract, The Spectator Australia, September 22, 2018:
“Urban makes a powerful case that grandmother Neill-Fraser, who had run a successful horse-riding school and been involved in property development, was wrongly accused and prosecuted for the murder of Chappell, a radiation physicist, her partner of 18 years.

Murder by the Prosecution is engrossing and troubling. Back and forth, the reader is propelled, much as a jury is during the ‘test match’ that a murder trial resembles.

The later stand-alone chapters on other murder trials which have been found to have been unjust stand as sentinels fortifying Urban’s impassioned premise that Susan Neill-Fraser is serving a 23 year sentence for a murder she did not commit. The ethical prosecutor works not for a particular verdict, but for justice to be done. This must be the hope for Susan Neill-Fraser.” – Margaret Cunneen SC, Deputy Senior Crown Prosecutor (NSW)

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