Andrew L. Urban.
There are many flaws that have been identified in both the investigation and the trial of Sue Neill-Fraser, sometimes so many that some crucial details are overlooked. We remind our readers of a conflict between what the DPP, Mr Ellis SC, said in front of the jury while speculating about the murder, and what he told the judge – jury absent.
Sue Neill-Fraser was on trial for the murder of Bob Chappell. The prosecution speculated that on board their yacht, Four Winds, Neill-Fraser murdered Chappell below decks with a blow to the head with a wrench (or something), hauled it up on deck, deposited his body in the dinghy and dumped the bloodied body in the water somewhere. He produced no evidence to support his speculation.
Trial transcript extracts below (emphasis added) – readers can draw their own conclusions:
CT 1348 S.B. NEILL-FRASER / HOBART 12.10.10 XXD MR ELLIS SC
You lowered his body into the dinghy and you took it somewhere into the deeper channels of the Derwent ….
CT 1351 S.B. NEILL-FRASER / HOBART 12.10.10 XXD MR ELLIS SC
… you completed the work and disposed of Mr Chappell’s body by using winches to haul him out and the fire extinguisher and other things. You wrapped him up in some form of doona or cloth or a sail cloth or something with the carpet pieces which were bloody and which you’d removed …..
CT 1486 HIS HONOUR, COUNSEL, JURY ABSENT– SUBMISSIONS, PRIOR TO SUMMING UP, 13.10.10
MR ELLIS SC: The next point is, it was attributed to me that I said it was Mr Chappell’s blood in the dinghy. Now I don’t believe I did.
MR GUNSON SC: Yes, you did.
MR ELLIS SC: Okay – I don’t know why I’d say it
HIS HONOUR: – Well – -
MR ELLIS SC: – because I’ve never believed it.
HIS HONOUR: In opening.
MR GUNSON SC: Yeah.
MR ELLIS SC: Oh in opening –
MR GUNSON SC: Yes, in opening.
MR ELLIS SC: Oh okay, I abandon that, if I said it in opening.
HIS HONOUR: All right. Well I’ll do nothing about that point. What’s the next point?
(His Honour Justice Blow indeed did nothing about this point, not even telling the jury.)
He (Ellis) never believed it – but he painted a picture for the jury as if he did.
This exchange was first published four years ago – in The Australian, 25/3/2015 as “Justice cast to the four winds” (p. 11) and on 26/3/2015 on this blog.