Justice Helen Wood has set the date for appeal against Sue Neill-Fraser’s murder conviction, for March 2 – 13, 2020, after DPP Darryl Coates estimated it would take two weeks; Neill-Fraser’s lawyer, Chris Carr, had estimated just 3 – 4 days.
Rosie Crompton-Cook, Secretary of the Sue Neill-Fraser Support Group was one of the 11 members attending the directions hearing yesterday (Tuesday, November 12, 2019) in Hobart’s Supreme Court. She reports as follows: Sue was video-linked into court from Risdon Prison. She was represented by Chris Carr, who was video-linked into court from Melbourne. The DPP, Daryl Coates and Jack Shapiro represented the Crown.
The Hearing focussed on the Draft Appeal Book index, which had been filed by Chris Carr.
Mr Carr asked that the Judge, Helen Wood, issue an order to the Nine Network Australia to produce unedited footage of the Meaghan Vass interview on 60 Minutes, plus a transcript of that interview. Mr Carr indicated that he had discussed this with the Nine Network and was confident that they had the footage and that they would have no objection to releasing it. The Judge, issued the order, requiring the Nine Network to provide the footage and transcript to the Supreme Court by 4.15pm on 29 November 2019. The Judge also gave the Nine Network opportunity to object to releasing the material. (On 60 Minutes, Vass admitted she had witnessed a fight on board Four Winds, where her DNA had been found. Neill-Fraser was not there, she said.)
Chris Carr also indicated that there had been discussions about how the Appeal may be conducted in an efficient way and he suggested that there be a limited number of witnesses, and a winnowing of the Appeal Book after the prosecution have viewed the Nine Network footage. Mr Carr stated that much of the Appeal timetabling would necessarily await the footage having been viewed, and the DPP’s response to that.
Mr Carr suggested that both parties rely on evidence given in the leave application, as if it was given in the appeal, except for the evidence given by Ms Vass, which will be need to be tendered in person. Mr Carr stated that the evidence of Meaghan Vass lies at the heart of the appeal and it was likely that she would be in the witness box for a reasonable period of time. He stated that the court would have to make findings of her credibility and reliability.
It was agreed that there would be a further Directions Hearing after the Nine Network footage was received and viewed. This was set down for 16 December 2019 at 4.15pm
Mr Coates then asked for the release of some exhibits – P7, P8, P74 and P76, from the original trial. The Mercury later reported that these exhibits were fingerprint lifts.
- Neill-Fraser, 65, is serving a 23-year jail sentence for murdering her partner Bob Chappell, 65, on board the couple’s yacht Four Winds on Australia Day 2009. She has always maintained she is innocent.