Open letter to the killers of Bob Chappell

Andrew L. Urban.

You will be caught. You will be charged. You will be convicted. You will be heavily sentenced. But you can shave years off your sentence.

One of you will be charged with murder – your lawyer can argue for manslaughter. The other will be charged with being accessory to murder/ manslaughter.

In sentencing, the judge will take into account all of the factors, not least that you stayed silent while an innocent woman was convicted of murder, robbed of her liberty, her good name, her future – all on top of losing her partner.

But the judge would also take into account the fact that you gave yourselves up and corrected the injustice, enabled the wrongfully convicted woman to be released from prison and saved everyone the trauma and expense of a) the upcoming appeal, and b) an unnecessary trial.

Do it; get a lawyer and go to the police, confess and ask for the mercy of the court.

You would shave years and years off your sentences. You have nothing to lose now. What’s more, you would help your own families and loved ones avoid the trauma of the alternative …. You can finish your lives and go to your graves as scum or as redeemed men. Your choice.

(Bob Chappell was murdered on Australia Day 2009. Sue Neill-Fraser has been convicted of the murder but is appealing (again) after an eye witness, Meaghan Vass, admitted to the court that she had witnessed the murder and cleared Neill-Fraser of the crime.)

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24 Responses to Open letter to the killers of Bob Chappell

  1. Garry Stannus says:

    Thanks, MM. My short answer is that I agree that ‘typo’ was perhaps not the best choice of words and was perhaps incorrect – I ‘grabbed it on the run’ to describe a possible ‘mis-hear’ or a possible hiccup … such as … do the courts use audio-to-text applications? Did the machine get it wrong?

    However, I don’t agree with/I don’t share the definition of ‘posit’ which you have given.

    Best wishes, Garry Stannus.
    P.S. [Am willing to give a longer spiel on ‘posit’, should you request it.]

    • MM says:

      In context with the transcript “𝑌𝑒𝑠, 𝑤𝑒𝑙𝑙 𝑎𝑝𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑥𝑖𝑚𝑎𝑡𝑒𝑙𝑦 210 𝑏𝑦 260 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑖𝑧𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑎𝑟𝑒𝑎 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝐼 𝑑𝑟𝑒𝑤, 𝑠𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑎𝑐𝑡𝑢𝑎𝑙 𝑎𝑟𝑒𝑎 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑝𝑜𝑠𝑖𝑡𝑒𝑑* 𝑤𝑜𝑢𝑙𝑑 𝑏𝑒 𝑠𝑙𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡𝑙𝑦 𝑠𝑚𝑎𝑙𝑙𝑒𝑟 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡.”… seems to me the word “posited” is refering to the actual body-fluid deposited (as opposed to the total area sprayed with luminol).

      But please do elaborate. I’m curious :)

      • andrew says:

        Maybe just a simple mis-typed ‘deposited’?

        • Carl J says:

          It should be ‘POSITIVE’ rather than ‘POSITED’

        • Henry says:

          it is my opinion that reading the discussion one can reasonably conclude that there is a misinterpretation about what the forensic scientist said. It is clear to me that the discussion was about the luminol positive area and that the correct word is “positive”. Gunson used the word positive. It should therefore be evident that the forensic scientist also used the word positive instead of posited. Anyway, posited is an incorrect term because forensic scientists use the term deposited when referring to a DNA deposit. Either the machine or the human made an error in this case my misinterpreting positive for posited because they do sound very similar.

      • Garry Stannus says:

        Gees! I’ve taken days to write and rewrite a (polite and friendly) response to you, MM. And now, while pasting before posting, I seen Henry’s succinct and to-the-point response. I agree with Henry’s reasoning.

        And I must congratulate him on his subtle “Either the machine or the human made an error in this case 𝗺𝘆 misinterpreting positive for posited because they do sound very similar.”

        Surely Henry told his machine (or his scribe) “Either the machine or the human made an error in this case 𝗯𝘆 misinterpreting positive for posited because they do sound very similar.”

        (Smile! We are in good will! One of my lengthy drafts to MM referred to Bernard-Shaw’s Mrs Malaprop.)

        And apologies too, for cracking jokes while Susan Neill-Fraser is in prison, for year on year, for a crime which Meaghan Vass says was committed by someone else. Why can’t she be released now?

        • andrew says:

          In reply to your last question : because the law is an ass. An inflexible, long overdue for reform, ass…

          • Deb Drummond says:

            Andrew, sadly, the law was an ass on 11 March 1947 when my grandfather was sentened to life in Boggo Road Gaol, 8 weeks after his arrest….72 years later the law remains an ass…

          • Horatio A. Caine says:

            If you stop personifying words like ‘The Law” and “Justice” and instead specifically blame the individuals by name, then you might get some traction. Inanimate ideas can not suffer punishment or bend to negative reinforcement. People can. In this case, the DPP Tim Ellis SC is to blame, first and foremost. He should stand trial for his blatant disregard for his duties, gross incompetence, or idiocy, and should pay a hefty fine or jail time. Make an example of him. Hold him accountable and things will change.

        • Henry says:

          Thanks Garry. I posted that on behalf of another party. He told me that be mistyped on purpose to see who will pick it up.

        • MM says:

          LOL… such a big fuss over a single word. After much deliberation of all suggestions, I think Samtoo was correct. The witness was, indeed, referring to what was ‘put forward’ and this is also consistent with the language used by DNA scientists.

          https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/pribnow-box

  2. Samtoo says:

    Re. “posit” in Garry Stannus’ post – Could it be another definition, ie:
    “to posit” is to put forward as fact or as a basis for argument.
    synonyms: postulate, put forward, advance, propound, submit, predicate, hypothesize, take as a hypothesis, set forth, propose, pose, assert;

  3. MM says:

    Personally, I hope they stay on the run and have to be hunted down like the vicious animals they are! And then, over and above what ever sentence they deserve, I hope they are also sentenced with the time served by Sue.

    Additionally, I hope the authorities involved with perverting the course of justice are all prosecuted and duly punished in order to set a precedent for those who follow.

    We should demand no less from “Good Governance”.

  4. Keith Kroger says:

    I was never a fan of Paul Keating however he did leave us with an iconic saying – “I’m going to do you slowly”. I can only hope that when Sue gets a re- trial, that her lawyers do the Tasmanian police and DPP “slowly”. By that I mean that they bring up every point that has been made in all the books and by Prof. Moles and that all of the coppers involved sweat bullets before being charged with perverting the course of justice.

  5. Garry Stannus says:

    Thanks Andrew, for your recent series of blog posts. I’ve been impressed by their scope. You must have found the ‘overdrive’ button on your ‘𝘞𝘳𝘰𝘯𝘨𝘧𝘶𝘭 𝘊𝘰𝘯𝘷𝘪𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴’ vehicle’s transmission. Well done!

    If I may be permitted to stray a little (to one of your recent Neill-Fraser comment threads), I’d like to point out how initially I had been surprised to hear Colin McLaren refer to the Vass DNA deposit as being the size of a ‘𝑑𝑖𝑛𝑛𝑒𝑟 𝑝𝑙𝑎𝑡𝑒’. I’d never thought of it in those terms, yet had been aware of the evidence given by Debra McHoul at trial. From memory, you have yourself used that description (it doesn’t matter for the purpose of what I want to say here if I am incorrect in that memory).

    You see, I went back to check on this ‘𝑑𝑖𝑛𝑛𝑒𝑟 𝑝𝑙𝑎𝑡𝑒’ business. As you and/or your readers might recall, one or two people have made mention of an area the size of a 50𝘤 𝘤𝘰𝘪𝘯. Clearly, we must all be on short rations, or small commons if a dinner plate can be referred to as having an area equivalent in size to a 50 cent coin.

    So I went to the primary evidence and found in Mr Gunson’s cross-examination of Debra McHoul the following:

    “𝑁𝑜𝑤 𝑔𝑖𝑣𝑒 𝑚𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑖𝑧𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑎𝑟𝑒𝑎 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑡𝑒𝑠𝑡𝑒𝑑 𝑝𝑜𝑠𝑖𝑡𝑖𝑣𝑒….𝑌𝑒𝑠, 𝑤𝑒𝑙𝑙 𝑎𝑝𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑥𝑖𝑚𝑎𝑡𝑒𝑙𝑦 210 𝑏𝑦 260 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑖𝑧𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑎𝑟𝑒𝑎 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝐼 𝑑𝑟𝑒𝑤, 𝑠𝑜 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑎𝑐𝑡𝑢𝑎𝑙 𝑎𝑟𝑒𝑎 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑝𝑜𝑠𝑖𝑡𝑒𝑑* 𝑤𝑜𝑢𝑙𝑑 𝑏𝑒 𝑠𝑙𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡𝑙𝑦 𝑠𝑚𝑎𝑙𝑙𝑒𝑟 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡.” [672 39-42]
    *[I suggest that this use in the transcript of ‘posited’ is a ‘typo’ and should be read as ‘positive’.]

    Not wanting to leave anything to chance, Andrew, I sought a tape measure, a dinner plate and a 50 cent coin. The plate I found to be 250 mm in diameter, while the coin – alas and alack – I had none at hand! Still, not to be put off, I resorted to the encyclopedia of the street, the ‘Modern Everyman’s and found (according to that oft-maligned source which apparently it is in the eyes of some), … I found that Wikipedia gives the size of our 50 cent coin as: 31.65 mm.

    Now some readers might be tempted to rush in and declare on the basis of these dimensions, that the dinner plate is a clear winner over the 50c coin. But I would caution them, Andrew, to be a little circumspect before rushing to judgement. You see, I noticed that while it seems clear that Debra McHoul sprayed luminol over an area “𝑠𝑙𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡𝑙𝑦 𝑙𝑒𝑠𝑠” than 210 x 260 mm, she does not appear to say in evidence that she then swabbed the entirety of that luminol-reactive area.

    We know that the DNA of Meaghan Vass was found on the Four Winds. We know that an area “𝑠𝑙𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡𝑙𝑦 𝑙𝑒𝑠𝑠” than 210 x 260 mm was sprayed with luminol and reacted positively. We know that from this area (“𝑠𝑙𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡𝑙𝑦 𝑙𝑒𝑠𝑠” than 210 x 260 mm) a swab was taken. It seems to have been a single swab. It yielded a generous DNA specimen which was ultimately identified as belonging to Meaghan Vass. Given that the DNA (swab) was collected from within that dinner-plate area, which had reacted to the luminol screening-test for blood, it is not unreasonable to wonder whether – had Debra McHoul swabbed the entirety of the luminol reactive area – she may / might have identified Vass’s DNA from the entirety of that surface.

    In conclusion, Andrew, to me it matters little if Debra McHoul only chose to swab – though I’ve seen no evidence of that – an area the size of a 50c coin. It seems clear that an area the size of a dinner plate reacted to luminol. When a swab was taken from that area, it revealed the DNA of Meaghan Vass.

    Post script: It’s regrettable to feel the need to add the following:
    -the person now alleged to have killed Bob Chappell was sitting at the back of the court when Meaghan Vass at trial told the court that she had never been on any yacht, couldn’t remember anything, etc.
    -Meaghan Vass’s lawyer (2017), Mr Cangelosi, received a letter from the DPP’s senior legal officer just prior to Vass giving her evidence at the application for leave to make a second appeal. In it it was advised that should Meaghan persist in her then affidavit (in 2017), in which she had said that she was on the yacht ‘with persons she wouldn’t name’, she would be open to a charge of perjury. Vass is reported to have said that saying anything that might get her a jail sentence was not an option for her and I can well understand her reluctance to allow herself to be rendered into an environment where ‘dogs’ are given ‘summary justice’. I watched her give evidence. I formed the view that her stock ‘I can’t remember’ and her stock ‘I was threatened to be put in the boot of a car … the affidavit wasn’t true’, were rehearsed, coached answers. It got to the point where, in my opinion, this clash between the court’s need for truth and her need to not ‘dob’, put her to a breaking point. She asked the Judge for a break. Justice Brett gave her 5 minutes provided she did not leave the court building. On the way out, she was heard to cry out (words to the effect of): ‘Damian, I can’t do this anymore’. Damian was a policeman and it seems as if it was under his watchful eye that Meaghan had arrived at court.
    -On her return to the witness box, in answer to a question from Mr Percy, she told the court that Damian (that policeman) had spoken to her during the break.
    -Then in 2019, following the Undercurrent series (which has not been screened in Tasmania) and during the period of time when we were all waiting for Justice Brett’s decision), news broke that Meaghan Vass had been interviewed by 60 Minutes’ Liam Bartlett, and that she had again told how she was on the yacht, that she’d been present at Bob Chappell’s murder, that there had been “𝑎 𝑙𝑜𝑡 𝑜𝑓 𝑏𝑙𝑜𝑜𝑑” but that she wasn’t going to name names on that program. Actually she had, inadvertently, but 60 Minutes subsequently ‘blipped them out’. Yet before the program was screened, we have it, Andrew, that Meaghan was picked up on the street by detectives, searched … a bud of marijuana was found in her bag … she was arrested and taken to Glenorchy police station where she was (according to a close acquaintance) brought before the very policeman who (according to the acquaintance) had been responsible for her disowning the truth of her first 2017 ‘I was on the yacht’ affidavit. However despite this apparent pressure on Vass, the 60 Minutes program was screened, and Vass made a second ‘I was on the yacht’ affidavit. These two affidavits were sufficient for Justice Brett without further ado to agree to a second appeal last week.

    Add it all up, Andrew: the apparent coercive pressure over years on Meaghan Vass, the arrest of Karen Keefe, the arrest of Jeff Thompson, the charges on Stephen Gleeson, the raids on Eve Ash’s / 7’s production offices, Colin McLaren’s fleeing overseas lest the cops/legals prevent the publication of his ‘𝑆𝑜𝑢𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑛 𝐽𝑢𝑠𝑡𝑖𝑐𝑒’, and lastly, a crying shame: the mongrel treatment of Barbara Etter, driven from legal practice and yet – even now – not free of our ‘𝑆𝑜𝑢𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑛 𝐽𝑢𝑠𝑡𝑖𝑐𝑒.’

    Of course I’ve left out one person in this post-script: she remains in jail, from which many fair-minded Tasmanians believe she should already have been released, owing to the exceptional nature of the latest evidence. Of course, that person is Susan Neill-Fraser.

    • MM says:

      May I be so bold as to correct you on the word “posited”… it wasn’t a typo. Posit (verb): put in position; place.. from which the word “deposit” is derived.

  6. Samtoo says:

    If I recall correctly DNA taken from the yacht included one significant sample from a female (who turned out to be Meaghan Vass) and samples from two unidentified males (ie: DNA that couldn’t be matched to any of the family members, police etc authorised to board the yacht after it was found partially submerged). If that’s right, shouldn’t it be a simple matter for police to compare those two male DNA samples with that of the men Meaghan Vass claims were responsible for the crime?

  7. nola scheele says:

    I know Meghan Vass should and could have told what happened to Bob Chappell in
    doing so either back then or now, has put herself in great danger.
    Apparently the police have the murderers names and if so why haven’t they been charged
    or at least questioned.

  8. SH says:

    And another thing, Andrew, I don’t think these fellows have any kind of conscience to appeal to – I mean, they’ve stood by – AS COWARDS – for all this time. Only Meghan has had a crisis of conscience…
    They could have left the boat and left Bob alive.
    They could have come forward at any time.
    Perhaps the way you’ve written this will provoke another ‘accident ‘ – as one tries to erase those who witnessed the true events.

  9. SH says:

    Hear! Hear!
    Well said & well done.
    Hmm … will there be ‘honour amongst thieves’ in this case? Will they even read this or hear of it? Time will tell.
    No more ‘time’ for Susan Neill-Fraser – anywhere else it would not have gone to trial. Anywhere else, there would have been enough ‘reasonable doubt’
    Anywhere else, she’d be a free woman at this moment!
    Anywhere else…

  10. MLK says:

    Very good. Esp like the sentiment; you can finish your lives and go to your graves as scum or as redeemed men.

    • DK says:

      While I love all the discussion, it still remains that Sue is behind bars for a crime committed by others. Every day extra she spends in there reduces her time with her family. Many people need a strong kick up their arse to get moving and correct this injustice!!!! And that goes from the Premier all the way down.

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