Questions for Sue Neill-Fraser case after Lawyer X

Letter to The Editor,
Wrongful Convictions Report

Recent developments in Victoria have thrown wide open the question of wrongful convictions. We learn [Sarah Marsh – The Guardian: 27 July 2019] that 40 cases may have been tainted by involvement of police informer Nicola Gobbo. [ ]

On 26 July 2019, Faruk Orman was released from prison, because of a “substantial miscarriage of justice” caused by (as The Guardian describes her): his double-agent lawyer Nicola Gobbo, also known as Lawyer X.

The Guardian [] also tells us that she is alleged to have encouraged a key witness, whose evidence was central to securing Orman’s conviction, to talk to police.

In doing so, she is seen to have breached client confidentiality. So too with a number of others – e.g. Tony Mokbel – who have been convicted. [ ]

I note that Orman, having served 12 out of a 20 year sentence, will not face retrial, as the Victorian DPP had said that it would be unjust to demand a retrial. Orman would have been eligible for parole in two years time.

Meanwhile, in Tasmania, Susan Neill-Fraser remains in prison. It is now 10 years since her arrest and since her being taken into custody (20 Aug. 2009) before her subsequent trial and conviction.

Even so, following the recent evidence of Meaghan Vass, and subsequently being given leave to make a second appeal, Neill-Fraser remains behind bars until such time as her appeal takes place. 

If the appeal succeeds, will she be released or will she have to have a retrial? Would the release of Orman serve as some sort of precedent?

In the wake of the Lawyer X revelations, Victoria has a Royal Commission underway. In my view, a Commission of Inquiry (Tasmania’s equivalent to a Royal Commission) into the circumstances under which Neill-Fraser has been imprisoned is long overdue.

Garry Stannus,
Liffey, Tasmania



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18 Responses to Questions for Sue Neill-Fraser case after Lawyer X

  1. Garry Stannus says:

    Hello Andrew,
    the wheel turns and this time it comes up ‘Tony Mokbel’.

    Brings to mind Blackstone’s “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.”

    I think that Lawyer X has done a disservice to the system of justice as it exists in Victoria, and by extension, throughout the Commonwealth. While – personally – I think Mokbel should be in prison for that conviction and for his other crimes, I have to give grudging support for the court’s decision to quash his conviction (and if I heard the ABC RN news correctly) reserve its decision on whether to order a retrial.

    Whereas – in the case of Susan Neill-Fraser – the tragedy is that a woman is convicted without any direct evidence and was sentenced to 26 – reduced on appeal to 23 – years in prison.

    We believe Sue is wrongfully convicted and I – personally – believe that Mokbel is guilty of cocaine importation and many other charges … the other of which he was also he was convicted, without wrongful input from lawyer X … those other convictions still stand.

    How do we critique our wrongful – and rightful – convictions?

    Best wishes to you, Andrew and to your readers. Best wishes to Sue in in her twelvth year of wrongful imprisonment…

    [PS: readers might like to read … in the ‘drop down’ tab on the ( …) a few hundred pages … ‘Chronology’ … a gathering of all evidence available publicy regarding the Neill-Fraser case. I must say, that that collection is not complete … there is still much to be included for the 2017… hearings which heard Sue’s ultimately successful application for leave to appeal (for a second time) to the Supreme Court of Tasmania] on the single ground of there being ‘fresh and compelling evidence’ to support her appeal.

    Of course, Andrew, Sue is still in prison, in spite of her appeal papers being lodged some five years ago. Yep, five years… the ‘Long Arm of the law?’

    What a joke!
    Best Christmas wishes to all, and to Sue and her family.]

  2. Garry Stannus says:

    Once it was just about Sue and about reversing a miscarriage of justice. For me an MoJ occurred when Justice Blow wouldn’t allow Meaghan Vass to be recalled. But it’s changed now. Of course we will still focus on the appeal and on getting Sue out. But now, as we move closer to reaching that goal, we take note of the apparent wrongs that have been done along the way. We want an Inquiry … now!

    Those senior members of government having refused to act on receipt of Robert Richter’s ‘White Paper’. And those trumped up charges of contraband (craft scissors and makeup – properly obtained) … giving the excuse to move SN-F into a cell next to Karen Keefe … resulting in Sue’s hunger strike … The treatment of Keefe while police attempted (and failed) to get her to agree to the pervert justice charges. Those ‘pervert justice’ charges themselves. The hounding and charging of the legals and witnesses: Etter, Thompson, Keefe & Gleeson. The legal profession complicit in getting Etter out of the way? And the DPP brings a tail-end complaint against Etter.

    We are entitled to ask whether there was improper co-operation between police and prison, between police and the office of the DPP – supposedly independent-of-the-police? And the Assistant Police Commissioner Cowling’s ‘Clayton’s statement’ … that Vass had retracted the substance of her 60 Minutes interview: Misinformation or Disinformation? 𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝐴𝑢𝑠𝑡𝑟𝑎𝑙𝑖𝑎𝑛 publishing this phoney news, using the “it is understood…” formula. And while mentioning Vass, do we not have a clear record, documented by Andy, of ongoing harassment of a witness to a crime … the murder of Bob Chappell?

    We want to know what happened on the boat that night.

    The ‘brief’ is growing. In my view, these are matters which should be addressed by a Commission of Inquiry.

    Inquiry Now!

    • Di Kemp says:

      Totally agree Garry but how do we get the Tasmanian Government and all those involved to be under scrutiny when the AG and the Governor refuse to acknowledge there is a problem??? It appears any inquiry needs to be brought by the Commonwealth and like everyone else, they are reluctant to act. And with each passing day, Sue still remains behind bars!!
      As I have said before, something stinks in Tasmania and it needs to be cut out now by the people of Tasmania.

  3. LB says:

    WHERE can Garry’s excellent letter be published so that ALL Australians can see the disinterest, apathy and incompetence of the entire Tasmanian “system?” Where is the Tasmanian Governor, Tasmanian Attorney General, The Tasmanian Integrity Commission ….anybody really ! Forget the wringing of hands citing “ it is all before the courts so we cannot/ must not act.”
    Will Hodgman as Premier really should show some fortitude, competence, ethics and humanity – isn’t he an elected representative, a leader of government and a person of authority ?
    The whole saga would make an excellent movie – pity it is happening to a real person and her family.

  4. Robin Bowles says:

    Good questions sparking good debate, Garry. If judicial hearings were possible for Farah Jama and Faruk Orman, one is possible for SNF. The only truth about this whole debacle is that no one wants this situation resolved. Thanks to Andrew for providing the forum.
    I have something a bit different to air, but part of the same story. Last week I was sent a screen shot by Karen Keefe. Some of you may remember her as the person who was charged with perverting the course of justice for her efforts in trying to get Meaghan Vass to confess to investigators the story Meaghan ultimately told pretty convincingly on 60 Minutes. MV’s affidavit to the same effect was provided to Justice Brett, assisting him in his decision to grant leave for Sue to appeal her conviction. If you’ve read my book, Death on the Derwent, you will know that Karen was tortured for days by two Taspol detectives for refusing to change her plea regarding her alleged guilt in seeking to get MV to tell the truth. Those charges against Karen have not been dropped, even though the truth has now come out via MV all over Australia on 60 Minutes. Karen is still being hauled back to court every few weeks on bail hearing continuations, with no progress from the DPP and no directions from the court to either get on with it, or drop the charges. What are they waiting for??? The screen shot I referred to, above, was pages from an Arunta transcript, made from a recording of a telephone call from prison made by Karen to her mother. These transcripts are highly confidential and are tools of the police investigations around prisoners. They are marked ‘Highly confidential’ and this page is also marked ‘Prosecutorial eyes only’, otherwise I would reproduce the material here. This material was sent several times to Karen by Andy Brown, who is nobody in this case, other than a friend and ‘protector’ of MV. So how did Andy Brown get her hands on this transcript, I wonder? Interestingly, the content is nothing to do with any comments Karen made about the SNF case, they are comments made by Karen to her mother about Karen’s former bikie boyfriend Sharkey, who had already rolled over to the police and made a 50+ page statement, seeking to incriminate Karen. Karen was annoyed with Sharkey and said so during this call. Has someone leaked this page/s (we don’t know what else Andy has) to become public and drive a wedge between Karen and Sharkey? (Too late, Karen never sees him now). Or, (conspiracy alert!) did whoever gave it to Andy hope that putting it up in the public domain would put Karen in danger? Regardless of the motive, I want to know how Andy got her hands on that highly confidential material, available ONLY to prosecutors. Det Sam Sinnitt has been asked if he leaked it and denies it. Did it come from the DPP? One would hope not! I know Andy Brown reads this page. So where did you get it, Andy? Fess up, before I take it further.

    • Andy says:

      Fess up you say…. Highly confidential… So highly confidential that it has leaked out. I’ve had it over a year if u must know and Meaghan had it from an appt with one of her up teen lawyers… Are you worried about the fact that people have read it or about how bad a light it paints your friend. Unlike parts of your book this is fact not fiction.
      Also for the record I showed that page as I was sick to death of karen trying to befriend sharkie again and so was he… Texting “what’s the go”, “why are u ignori h me” so I showed her why. 27 years of so called friendship and he saw what she said about him. Not cool.
      Also the threats to break my legs and burn my house down not to mention harassing my daughter for my number goes to show that the charges she has are there for a reason. Just sad for you that you can’t see the forest for the trees.

      • Andy says:

        And truth be known I assumed the page was all out in the open if Meaghan had it. I would never jeopardise sues case in any way shape or form but the people in it for their own gain need to be weeded out. You Robyn have known her how long? Others have formed their opinions over years and years. I have nothing further to discuss with you in this topic

        • ANDY says:

          And the reason that only sharkie was mentioned on the page sent robin is because he is my concern.
          Get your facts straight just once will you…. I sent one page, one time.
          Also I’d love to see the 50 odd page statement that karen says was written by sharkie THAT DOESNT EXIST.
          I wouldn’t read your book through pure bias alone…. Also if u have two hoots about this case ud stop plugging your crap attempt at a book every five mins… Slump in sales are there??
          AND who am I? If I’m just a nobody then what makes you anymore important?
          Im the nobody who knows your fake friend and the nobody who helped Meaghan or “that little slut” as your mate calls her when she was scared of everybody.

    • Andy says:

      Cat got your tongue robin? You had plenty to say in your last rant?
      Anywho, Karen was not tortured for days, taken in on Aug 9 and bailed on the 10th at ten am…. Hardly days….
      She was referring to the SNF case implying that she would blame Sharkie as he’d be dead soon and wanted nothing more to do with him…. Funny that you couldn’t figure that out being Miss Marple…
      The one page is hardly the most she has to worry about…
      I have been friends with Sharkie for 15 years and she was never his girlfriend. Ever. He is not the father to her daughter and truth be told he always said get the keys out the cash register if she showed her face at the club. I think you have a sociopath on your hands robin who has sucked you completely in.
      Have you any proof of any of the crap you write as I call bs and walking the line of slander… So you need to watch that others won’t take it further.
      Karen’s say so is hardly proof.

  5. Geraldine Allan says:

    Separation of Powers didn’t seem to affect the Victorian Attorney-General in recently seeking advice then taking appropriate remedial action relating as per prisoner petition relative to Lawyer X.
    “… Attorney general Jill Hennessy referred Orman’s case to the court of appeal last month after receiving a petition of mercy from his lawyers in February.
    She said there was “credible evidence that there may have been a miscarriage of justice” and it was not necessary to wait for the royal commission’s final report. …”
    Another link —

    Currently there is no SN-F matter before the court, thus Tasmania’s Attorney-General Archer could act in-the-public-interest, if requested. Already, there is substantial evidence available to indicate a miscarriage of justice and wrongful conviction.

    When requested very early in the year she refused because, “this matter is currently before the court”. Brett J published his decision on that “matter” in March 2019, thus perhaps a fresh request is needed. I suggest there will be no self-initiated action, thus my suggestion for a repeat request.

    As a refresher to readers, the full text of A-G’s 04/02/19 letter to Dr K Klugman reads: –
    “Dr Kristine Klugman OAM
    Civil Liberties Australia
    4 Feb 2019

    Dear Dr Klugman,
    Thank you for your recent letter calling for a Royal Commission into the system of justice in Tasmania, and in particular the matter of Ms Sue Neill-Fraser.

    As this matter is currently before the Court, it would not be appropriate for the Government to comment on the specifics of Ms Neill-Fraser’s conviction, or engage in any commentary on the matter. To do so, would risk allegations that the Government is seeking to inappropriately influence the courts.

    However, I will add that I have every confidence in the Tasmanian legal system and see no need for such a review.

    Yours sincerely
    Hon Elise Archer MP
    Minister for Justice

    cc Hon Will Hodgman MP

    I end my comment repeating the A-G’s final paragraph (from above), cough, cough, choke.
    “…However, I will add that I have every confidence in the Tasmanian legal system and see no need for such a review.”

  6. Brian Johnston says:

    The only people who can bring about the required changes are the God damned politicians. The people of Tasmania and Sue supporters should be marching in the streets with placards and camping outside politicians homes and offices. It is a war and sitting at home hoping truth will prevail is not strong enough.

    Maybe through crowd funding a civil case could be brought against the police, prosecution and judiciary.

  7. Henry, Alice says:

    Dear Garry,
    Your observations of the ‘Lawyer X’ matters have brought into question the seriousness of confidentiality breaches.
    Of course you would have to consider that the Tasmanian police and justice system appears to be a law unto it’s own.
    I recall a very renowned QC providing three government ministers with a ‘confidential’ report on matters related to Sue Neill-Fraser’s miscarriage of justice.
    Subsequently, and after receiving this ‘confidential’ report a number of significant people were either brought before the courts or their homes/offices were raided by police.
    Other enquiries through independent government departments were also handed over to the police who replied and answered the enquirers.
    These matters are all on the public record and one wonders why ‘Lawyer X’ is such startling news.
    When the truth is revealed, be it through a Royal Commission or a Commission of Inquiry, there will be some soul searching by those who right at this moment could be doing something to enable Sue Neill-Fraser to have the opportunity to be with her family while she awaits her pending appeal.
    This woman has no ‘priors’. I
    Another writer talks about intervention from the Prime Minister, the man who believes in ‘miracles’.
    Maybe ‘a miracle’ needs to be a consideration given that Tasmania restricts even televising what the rest of us can see and hear and what apparently the jury members were not privy to.
    Thanks for your observations and raising this ‘ terrible injustice’ Garry.

  8. Tom Cairns says:

    One feels only a sense of shock to see how far the authorities are prepared to go to shield themselves against recrimination. If the police have stuffed-up then the sooner they fix the problem the better for everyone including the police. The fact that a jury was the deciding factor is no excuse, juries have been wrong before, many times.
    Videoed interrogations of Sue Neill-Fraser show only someone who was confused, or perhaps bewildered is a better word. Can’t remember whether she was at Bunnings or not? Big deal, I do this all the time and have done for decades.
    Interrogation and intimidation are closer than one thinks and this uncertainty was decreed to be dishonesty by officers who needed to “get a result” as they used to say on The Bill.
    Sue will be released I am sure so whatever technicalities are available to delay the release of Sue pending further action let them be set aside. What harm can this do? Is she likely to re-offend? One may as well consider her “previous criminal record” since we are already in the realm of fiction.
    Here’s to Sue and her lovely daughter. Life only has so many days but be patient.

  9. Kerry says:

    The whole case is a debacle .The Government appears to be totally incompetent .Shame on them and about time they showed some intelligence and act upon the new evidence.
    Please tell me….what measures have the police taken to find the 2 men named as the offenders and please explain why there was a black ban on Tasmanian TV and media to air the documentaries we watched on the mainland.
    How dare the Government not act whilst this poor woman is spending time in prison isolated from family and normal life.
    Release her now …swallow your pride and embarrassment …yes you made hufpge mistakes …fix it now

    Kerry Victoria .

  10. Di Kemp says:

    Totally agree that a Royal Commission is needed. Also would like the Tasmanian Attorney General to show that she understands her role and acts accordingly. It is now over 3 months since the right to appeal was granted yet Sue remains sitting behind bars still. I have continued to request Sue be granted home detention if there continues to be this long delay however the AG states by return letter she cannot comment because the case is before the court – it is in fact waiting to come before the court!!! The discrepancy between how Tasmania operates and how Victoria operates cannot continue – they are both states of Australia and the PM needs to remind Tasmania of that. Will continue to advocate as long as is needed but it becomes more of a travesty as each day passes.

    • Clearly the handling of this case is beyond the pay-scale and ability of our elected and morally complacent Tasmanian politicians of all parties. Only Andrew Wilkie, a Federal politician, has demonstrated ethical intelligence on the matter. We all understand the nature of the Separation of Powers. This is no excuse for the odious self-interest and boys’ club mateship on the part of the police, the lawyers, our elected representatives and the judiciary. The matter needs to be escalated to Christian Porter. This family needs to be re-united immediately. Can Sue’s daughters ever forgive Tasmania for being complicit in keeping their innocent and loved mother and grandmother from being returned to them. We should all be up in arms and marching in the streets.

      • Di Kemp says:

        Perhaps a significant march should occur in Hobart on the 10 year anniversary of this miscarriage of justice. I for one would be very happy to fly down to provide support. What are they going to do??? Arrest everyone – oh that’s right it’s Tasmania so probably will do and throw away the key!!!!!

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