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.

The charge of bias seems to be triggered by the fact that I haven’t included an interview with the police in the case, or the DPP. Quite apart from the fact that neither the police nor the DPP (or his spokesperson) would make any comment, other than perhaps refer me to comments they have made in the past defending their work in the wake of Eve Ash’s documentary, Shadow of Doubt, the very notion of such an inclusion is misguided.

The police and the DPP had their (biased) say at the trial. That which was presented to the court was their side of the matter, their allegations, their speculations, their witnesses. It is not ‘bias’ to question the process; it is not ‘bias’ to point out the egregious errors.

I have consistently described ‘their side’ of the matter, riddled with faults as it is, each of which warrants the conviction be set aside. This is not my opinion or my bias. This is legal fact. For instance, the speculation about how Sue Neill-Fraser murdered Bob Chappell was presented to the jury without evidence to support it. Stating this fact is hardly proof of my bias. Likewise the other flaws in the process.

As I write this, it is approaching Christmas 2018; Sue Neill-Fraser was convicted in October 2010. The current court process, her seeking leave to appeal, began about a year ago (under new legislation).

You can review the case here

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

  1. Julie Fischer says:

    I have read the transcript. When considering the “balance of probabilities” and “beyond a reasonable doubt” tests, I cannot understand how the Judge directed the jury to convict Sue Neill-Fraser of murder. The burden of proof for the prosecution is quite high. Surely it was/is evident that there were other logical explanations for Bob Chappell’s disappearance. One can’t help but think that at least ONE juror did have some reasonable doubt about the circumstantial evidence … if so, there simply should not have been a conviction. Appalling state of affairs to say the least!

  2. Andy says:

    After knowing personally meaghan vass and also the fact that police don’t seemingly want to persue her at any length makese me think the cops made a sham out of this case and are covering up for their own mistakes. Never has meaghan been sat down for an interview and asked what she knew and so on…..Also where is her charge of pervert the course of justice, surely after lawyer Jeff Thompson gets charged for showing a picture board months after the person had been named and Karen keefe is charged (as she deserves to be) ,why is what meaghan did any better…..

  3. Garry Stannus says:

    Julie wrote (December 7, 2018 at 11:24 am ):

    ‘𝐼 ℎ𝑎𝑣𝑒 𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑡𝑟𝑎𝑛𝑠𝑐𝑟𝑖𝑝𝑡. 𝑊ℎ𝑒𝑛 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑠𝑖𝑑𝑒𝑟𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡ℎ𝑒 “𝑏𝑎𝑙𝑎𝑛𝑐𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑏𝑎𝑏𝑖𝑙𝑖𝑡𝑖𝑒𝑠” 𝑎𝑛𝑑 “𝑏𝑒𝑦𝑜𝑛𝑑 𝑎 𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑠𝑜𝑛𝑎𝑏𝑙𝑒 𝑑𝑜𝑢𝑏𝑡” 𝑡𝑒𝑠𝑡𝑠, 𝐼 𝑐𝑎𝑛𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑢𝑛𝑑𝑒𝑟𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑛𝑑 ℎ𝑜𝑤 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝐽𝑢𝑑𝑔𝑒 𝑑𝑖𝑟𝑒𝑐𝑡𝑒𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑗𝑢𝑟𝑦 𝑡𝑜 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑣𝑖𝑐𝑡 𝑆𝑢𝑒 𝑁𝑒𝑖𝑙𝑙-𝐹𝑟𝑎𝑠𝑒𝑟 𝑜𝑓 𝑚𝑢𝑟𝑑𝑒𝑟. 𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑏𝑢𝑟𝑑𝑒𝑛 𝑜𝑓 𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑜𝑓 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑠𝑒𝑐𝑢𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑖𝑠 𝑞𝑢𝑖𝑡𝑒 ℎ𝑖𝑔ℎ. 𝑆𝑢𝑟𝑒𝑙𝑦 𝑖𝑡 𝑤𝑎𝑠/𝑖𝑡 𝑖𝑠 𝑒𝑣𝑖𝑑𝑒𝑛𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑤𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑜𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟 𝑙𝑜𝑔𝑖𝑐𝑎𝑙 𝑒𝑥𝑝𝑙𝑎𝑛𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛𝑠 𝑓𝑜𝑟 𝐵𝑜𝑏 𝐶ℎ𝑎𝑝𝑝𝑒𝑙𝑙’𝑠 𝑑𝑖𝑠𝑎𝑝𝑝𝑒𝑎𝑟𝑎𝑛𝑐𝑒. 𝑂𝑛𝑒 𝑐𝑎𝑛’𝑡 ℎ𝑒𝑙𝑝 𝑏𝑢𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑘 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑎𝑡 𝑙𝑒𝑎𝑠𝑡 𝑂𝑁𝐸 𝑗𝑢𝑟𝑜𝑟 𝑑𝑖𝑑 ℎ𝑎𝑣𝑒 𝑠𝑜𝑚𝑒 𝑟𝑒𝑎𝑠𝑜𝑛𝑎𝑏𝑙𝑒 𝑑𝑜𝑢𝑏𝑡 𝑎𝑏𝑜𝑢𝑡 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑐𝑖𝑟𝑐𝑢𝑚𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑛𝑡𝑖𝑎𝑙 𝑒𝑣𝑖𝑑𝑒𝑛𝑐𝑒 … 𝑖𝑓 𝑠𝑜, 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒 𝑠𝑖𝑚𝑝𝑙𝑦 𝑠ℎ𝑜𝑢𝑙𝑑 𝑛𝑜𝑡 ℎ𝑎𝑣𝑒 𝑏𝑒𝑒𝑛 𝑎 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑣𝑖𝑐𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛. 𝐴𝑝𝑝𝑎𝑙𝑙𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑡𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑎𝑓𝑓𝑎𝑖𝑟𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑠𝑎𝑦 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑙𝑒𝑎𝑠𝑡!’

    I don’t think that it’s correct to state that:

    “the Judge directed the jury to convict Sue Neill-Fraser of murder”.

    As far as I understand it, Justice Blow in his summing up presented the jury with a list of possible facts which in his opinion the jury should consider, and then, if they were satisfied with the truth of each of the elements in that list, then – as I recall – he said that the jury could (or should) find SN-F guilty of the murder of Bob Chappell. Similarly, he also ‘discussed’ how/whether a ‘not guilty beyond reasonable doubt’ verdict might be arrived at.

    My own impression from having studied Justice Blow’s summing up, is that he dealt more with the question of guilt than he did with that of innocence. In this sense, I believe that the judge’s summing up was biased. It, in my opinion, was biased in the true sense of the word, that is, it was ‘weighted’. ‘Off the top of my head’ I can’t say for sure now that he told the jury that they might find Sue Neill-Fraser ‘not guilty’ as opposed to ‘not guilty beyond reasonable doubt’. I don’t know if a jury can make a finding of ‘not guilty beyond reasonable doubt’. However, in effect, I believe that this is what the judge put to the jury. I didn’t think that there was much in his summing up that dealt with bringing in a verdict of not guilty because jurors might judge her to be innocent. No, I thought his summing up was more about the possibility of bringing in a verdict of ‘not guilty’ if they weren’t sure ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that she was guilty.

    In other words, the summing up was conducted on a continuum ranging from ‘possibly guilty, but not sure’ to ‘guilty beyond reasonable doubt’. The question of innocence seemed to be missing and in that sense I believe his summing up was unfairly weighted, i.e. biased by dwelling more on the question of guilt than of innocence.

    I do not believe that Justice Blow directed the jury to find Sue Neill-Fraser guilty of murder. However, for the above reasons (and for others), his summing up appears to me to have favoured a guilty verdict.

  4. Andy says:

    Meaghan vass was caught stealing from boats before Bob went missing though the charge disappeared yet she was seeing a worker at the dept of justice yet he wasn’t called for evidence.
    Or the umpteen other samples of DNA from the boat that were never tested….

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