By Andrew L. Urban
In her long running appeal against her 2010 murder conviction, Hobart grandmother Sue Neill-Fraser is finding new obstacles, compounded by inaccurate reporting: a fellow prisoner, Stephen Gleeson, has been charged with perverting justice (in her favour). After his hearing on March 23, 2018, the ABC’s Edith Bevan reported that prosecutor “Mr Shapiro told the court Gleeson had a number of visitors to Risdon Prison during 2017. They included Neill-Fraser’s then lawyer Barbara Etter, filmmaker Eve Ash, private detective Colin McLaren and lawyer Jeffrey Thompson.”
Eve Ash wrote to Bevin pointing out that she had never met Gleeson, never visited him in prison. Bevan didn’t reply, but her report on the ABC website was changed to: “Mr Shapiro told the court Gleeson had a number of visitors to Risdon Prison during 2017. They included Neill-Fraser’s then lawyer Barbara Etter, private detective Colin McLaren and lawyer Jeffrey Thompson. Mr Shapiro told the court the private detective was working for documentary filmmaker Eve Ash. Ash did not personally visit Gleeson in prison.”
In which version was Mr Shapiro quoted accurately?
In her letter Ash took exception to the prosecutor’s suggestion, as reported by Bevan, that “a group of Neill-Fraser supporters ‘duped’ Stephen Gleeson. How does that happen in a maximum-security prison, riddled with cameras, microphones and guards? The insinuation being that four professionals – who have better things to do in their lives – had committed a crime. Yet, some of them didn’t know each other before the prison visits.”
For the record, Ash pointed out that “Colin McLaren is no private detective, but a five-book author and documentary filmmaker. His trade requires him to delve deep and find the truth. As mine does!”
In her (unpublished) letter to The Editor of The Mercury, also on March 25, 2018, Eve Ash suggested that “Jack Shapiro has disgracefully stepped over the line, suggesting that visits to Stephen Gleeson were for the purpose of duping him.”
Later in her letter, Ash referred to another instance of being wrongly placed in a meeting, this time with another witness in the case: “At Sue Neill-Fraser’s leave to appeal, Darryl Coates SC was so eager to place me in a room with Meaghan Vass that he asked her a leading question, “and a person by the name of Eve Ash was there? Is that a yes?” and Meaghan Vass agreed. On the date in question I was overseas, and I have never met or spoken with Meaghan Vass.”
The leave to appeal hearing continues on June 26, 2018.