Open letter 2 to Tasmanian Attorney General Re TasPol & Meaghan Vass in matter Sue Neill-Fraser

Andrew L. Urban.

I refer to this matter which I raised over two weeks ago. I now have the audio of the court hearing of April 18 in which the prosecution explained to the court that police advised that Meaghan Vass had said ‘no comment’ to all questions put to her on March 8. The transcript is attached. This clearly contradicts the statement on or about March 11 by Assistant Commissioner Richard Cowling – to which I referred in my original letter – to the effect that Vass had ‘changed her story’ about witnessing Bob Chappell’s murder on Four Winds.

I don’t need to emphasise to your Minister* the seriousness of this. Following this, the media reports in The Australian (April 14) and The Mercury (April 16) both gave the misleading impression that Vass had AGAIN ‘changed her story’. This has the effect of misleading the public in a prejudicial manner against Vass, a key witness in a murder conviction under appeal.

I respectfully ask that the Attorney General take urgent steps to correct the public record with direct requests to both The Australian and The Mercury to publish corrections. She may also wish to enquire how Assistant Commissioner Cowling’s misleading statement came to be issued. The public has a right to know so they can have continued confidence in the administration of the legal system.

This letter, as my original letter of April 23, is also open to the public on my website.
* Letter addressed to:
Karen Gillie, Departmental Liaison Officer, Office of the Hon Elise Archer MP,
Attorney-General
Friday May 10, 2019

TRANSCRIPT OF COURT HEARING APRIL 18, 2019
before Deputy Chief Magistrate Daly:

Speaker 1:      Meaghan Elizabeth Vass

Miss Vass:       Yes.

Your Honour: Yes. Thank you.

Your Honour: Mr. Barns.

Mr. Barns:      We enter pleas of guilty for both possession charges Your Honour.

Your Honour: Record a plea of guilty through counsel on complaint 2891 of 2019, and also 92 of 2019.

Your Honour: Take a seat.

Your Honour: Miss Goodwin.

Miss Goodwin:           Thanks Your Honour.

Miss Goodwin:           A copy of the facts in relation to 92 of 19.

Miss Goodwin:           On the eighteenth of October 2018 at 12PM police attended a disturbance in the vicinity of Hopkins and Sunderland streets. Police arrived shortly afterwards and located the defendant and another male.

Miss Goodwin:           The defendant’s identity was confirmed by personal papers and the police systems.

Miss Goodwin:           Both the defendant and the male appeared to be under the influence of illicit drug. And as such, police conducted a search of the defendant and located a Ziploc bag containing cannabis, a gross weight of 3.8 grams, in her handbag. This was seized and she participated in a record … Written recorded interview where she stated under caution that the substance was cannabis and it belonged to her. That she had received the cannabis from a friend in Glenorchy and she last used it early that morning.

Miss Goodwin:           She signed the notebook as an accurate reflection of the questions asked and answered and was advised that she would be [inaudible 00:01:28] by summons.

Miss Goodwin:           And complaint 2891 of 19.

Miss Goodwin:           On the eighth of March this year police from patrol in Claremont at ten twenty that morning. The police observed the defendant standing and waiting at a bus stop on main road Claremont. Just south of the Claremont Hotel.

Miss Goodwin:           Police were aware that she had an active warrant. She was arrested. She was taken to Hobart Station. A search of property belonging to her was conducted and police subsequently located a small Ziploc bag containing a small amount of cannabis in her red purse and cannabis residue located in a blue container within her gray handbag. She was cautioned by police and asked a series of questions and she agreed the items were hers.

Miss Goodwin:         Provided no comment to all other questions put to her. And this property was then seized.

Miss Goodwin:           [inaudible 00:03:16] good conditions and we’re gonna be [inaudible 00:03:16] plus have prior notice.

Your Honour: Mr. Barns.

Mr. Barns:      Thank you, Your Honour.

Mr. Barns:      Can I just hand up to Your Honour a letter from the Clinic where my client is currently an inpatient. This indicates that she is currently under taking drug rehabilitation and has been since the 22nd of March.

Mr. Barns:      She’s come back to Tasmania to deal with this matter and she’ll be returning to the clinic next Tuesday.

Mr. Barns:      Can I just also indicate in relation of the two matters in the use of cannabis, without going into great detail, Your Honour might be aware Miss Vass has been under some considerable pressure in relation of a certain other matter and has been coming under the attention of the police on more than one occasion.

Mr. Barns:      I won’t take that any further but it’s a bit of extremely stressful time. I can indicate, Your Honour, that Miss Vass is in a much better place in terms of getting instructions and attending court alone than she was even a month ago because of now her relation to Orlando to go to Victoria.

Mr. Barns:      And she’s got about another … Her program I think runs for three months. She’s done six weeks. So she’ll be (interstate) from next Tuesday for about another month to complete the course.

Mr. Barns:      I would ask Your Honour, in the circumstances to … We understand there’s been a breach in the undertaking that was given to the court … We would ask Your Honour to extend the undertaking and alternatively to simply proceed to convict with no further order be made in relation to matters given that she is getting the treatment given the circumstances in which she was found with the cannabis and the fact that she’s taken a very brave step to leave the state and to remain in Victoria to complete this treatment.

Your Honour: Yes, all right.

Your Honour: Thanks Mr. Barns.

Your Honour: Just stand please, Miss Vass.

Your Honour: Miss Vass you have some prior matters of a similar nature where you’ve been dealt with without conviction.

Your Honour: I accept all these submissions that Mr. Barns has made on your behalf today.

Your Honour: I think it’s appropriate that I record convictions against you on each of these two charges noting that you have entered in voluntarily into significant rehabilitation in the Clinic.

Your Honour: You will though have to pay the court cost on each complaint in the sum of 66 dollars and 36 cents.

Your Honour: And I can only give you 28 days to pay those amounts. There’s also a victims of crimes levy of 20 dollars on each complaint so subject to the 28 days to pay.

Your Honour: You’ll receive notice in the mail in due course.

Your Honour: You’re free to go.

Mr. Barns:      Thank you Your Honour.

Miss Vass:       Thank you Your Honour.

 

 

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15 Responses to Open letter 2 to Tasmanian Attorney General Re TasPol & Meaghan Vass in matter Sue Neill-Fraser

  1. Kerry says:

    It is so true that Tasmanians were kept in the dark.They prevented the 60 minutes program from being viewed and also the Documentary .I lived there for awhile and phoned my friend in Tasmania who told me no , they didn’t air the programmes on public media.

    For what reason is puzzling however appears to be a cover up for the blunders that rolled ..one after the other.

    When anyone attempts to hide their mistakes it is far worse when they are revealed. The Legal System in Tasmania has lost so much respect by thousands of Australians .

    It appears that Tasmania is still wrongfully treating supposed offenders as they did back in the early convict days .

    I really need to make the statement that don’t you think it’s time to break the chain of repetition. This woman’s freedom is at stake .Enough is enough .

    Kerry
    Vic

  2. Geraldine Allan says:

    The reality is the Government can do whatever it so chooses if it has the will. We know in the SN-F matter the [Government] will is to hope the chain of wrongdoing will go away without further ado.
    Ostrich-ism will not solve this outrageous and horrific matter — thus high time for government to show some backbone.
    *she adds — and pigs might fly.

  3. Tee87 says:

    Okay so the wife was charged with his murder, even though the body wasnt found and no murder weapon… she gets put away in jail and THEN they find this young girls vomit/dna… Well, as it was with our own court case and “independant” childrens lawyer, she AND these police made their decision WITHOUT looking at the EVIDENCE – Helloooooo vomit for this case and fingermark bruising in strange places for my step kids case???
    How can we have faith in the Tasmanian court system lol. This makes me realize how little chance we had at helping our step sons through court :'(
    “If Tasmania, or any state has something to learn from this episode, it is that a vehicle should exist for RAPID BACKPEDDALING” and redress to be made for citizens wronged by governmental incompetence… Inaction in Tasmania is merely digging itself deeper into the murky bog. ”
    Tasmania is soo behind, they care only to try “close cases” so they can feel good about themselves, yet the innocent are seen as guilty because these Tasmanian Professionals don’t want to do investigative work properly!!!
    #BiasHobartICL #RidCourtOfICLS #TryLookingAtTheEVIDENCE #TasmaniaIsLost #EndAllAbuse #WitnessToMurder #TasmanianCourts #HobartCourts #HobartCourt #Hobart #Tasmania

  4. LB says:

    Nola I do understand what you are saying…..however there have been books written, articles in national newspapers and magazines as well as documentaries and television programs that HAVE been available to Tasmanians about this case. Like most things, people can choose to take an interest or simply ignore because it isn’t affecting them directly, (or because they fear taking action) but this is in my view a rather apathetic stance if we fail to provide support to our fellow human beings in dire times. Gruntle, what you say is true, but Public Servants should NOT ignore correspondence, full stop. This seems to be a Tasmanian trait “ if we ignore it, it ain’t happening” – there is a well known code of conduct for public servants, these people should look closely at their induction papers and terms of employment……forget their professional obligations – in any case did common courtesy and good manners disappear with the thylacine? It makes you wonder!

    • Gruntle Massey says:

      Non accountability by govt is not just a Tasmanian trait. It’s fairly endemic across Australia, and probably any nation that has a well developed bureaucracy. As we grow older and wiser, we learn that it is just “the system” – a wall that is hard to penetrate. In the same way a jury provides input into the judgement of a person’s guilt or innocence, likewise citizens should provide input into various levels of government in regard to the level of appropriateness and relevance of any decisions made. For example, I certainly dont need the nanny state to tell me I MUST wear a helmet if I ride a bicycle. The Australian govt treats it’s citizens with contempt, as though they are idiots who cannot think or take responsibility for themselves.

      If Tasmania, or any state has something to learn from this episode, it is that a vehicle should exist for rapid backpeddling and redress to be made for citizens wronged by governmental incompetence. In SNF’s case, they could at the least give her home detention with a security bracelet if legislation permitted it. Unfortunately it does not. Now guilty until proven innocent.

  5. Nola Rae Scheele says:

    To LB..
    The people that live in Tasmania have no idea what is going on they have been kept in the dark.
    When I rang my friend in Tasmania and spoke to them about it they didn’t know how corrupt the court system was, but they do now.

  6. LB says:

    I continue to be dumbstruck by the “ head in the sand” approach that Tasmanian government politicians and public servants appear to continue to bumble along. The Tasmanian government, the courts and the Police have all had the seriousness of the apparent miscarriage of justice of Sue Neill Fraser brought to their attention – by eminent barristers, by media and by concerned Australians. Just how does any public servant, let alone a Premier, an Attorney General, a Police Commissioner, a Coroner etc etc simply shut down and ignore correspondence, ignore calls for inquiries, it is beyond a farce. It appears that all can hide behind “it is before the courts so it is inappropriate to comment” unless of course it suits an agenda.
    It is not only their job to act and respond, it is their moral and civil obligation……do these people think delaying is going to make the documentaries and books about this
    case disappear? Inaction in Tasmania is merely digging itself deeper into the murky bog. How does anyone in that Apple Isle sleep at night knowing that this highly publicised reported miscarriage case appears to be being ignored to save a few reputations? If the system is robust it should not be fearful of reviews and requests for information. It seems to me that it is only going to get worse for all concerned as “bad things happen when good men do nothing”. Tasmania will become a laughing stock (if it already isn’t) simply because of its inability to respond. The inertia is pitiful.

  7. Peter says:

    Home detention for Sue would be a correct move. Show some consideration towards her in what appears, given all information to this date, a grave miscraige of justice.

  8. Gruntle Massey says:

    Good try Andrew, but I dont fancy your chances of getting a reply. Public servants almost always go stumpf when they should do the right thing and be accountable. Why? Simply because they can.

    I think that issue might come to light quite starkly in the media later on when SNF has her appeal heard in court. I’d imagine some mainland journos would home in on this.

    On a side note, nice little money making rort the courts have. Victims of crime levy for a pot user. How is that money going to help anyone who has had their house turned over by an addict?

  9. marie leone says:

    how can any person have any faith left in the legal process – the disgusting stitch up of Sue Neil in Tasmania and the Gobbo Barrister police infomant in VIC. What a joke – police running amok and the powers that be think the public are stupid. Corruption is alive and very well in Tasmania and Victoria.
    Never forget what goes around comes around !!!

  10. Andy says:

    There’s the proof she didn’t say it so where’s the proof they say they have to say she did

    • Diane Kemp says:

      Thank you Andrew – I was wondering if you had obtained any response. I have also sent a letter to the AG regarding home detention for Sue but have yet to receive any acknowledgement. Given you have a far higher profile than I do, I now don’t expect to receive any response at all however will continue to advocate.

      • andrew says:

        Keep on advocating. Others should, too. Numbers matter.

        • Diane Kemp says:

          Andrew, I simply received an acknowledgement that my letter will be passed on to the AG. Not good enough so will continue to send letters requesting home detention until I receive a proper response to this request.

          • Diane Kemp says:

            Have now received a response saying as the matter is before the courts it would not be appropriate to comment on specifics of SNF’s conviction. It goes on to say that it is not for the AG to vary the terms of the sentence, that is the duty of the court – I had asked for consideration of home detention until the matter is before the court!!!!
            Finally, it remains the judiciary and not the government of the day to determine the outcome of such matters.
            I consider that as the Minister for Justice, the AG could expedite a court date for the appeal if she chose to show compassion, reads all the information about the conviction and believes a miscarriage of justice has occurred. Still head in the sand attitude but accountability is coming.

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