A cancerous phenomenon

One of Australia’s most respected former detectives, COLIN McLAREN, has broken rank from police circles, to speak out against a judicial system he no longer believes in. Indeed, he suffered threats of arrest because he dared to find glaring faults in a past murder case, forcing him to leave Australia, permanently. He will reside overseas until Australia installs a criminal cases review commission to tackle wrongful convictions. He filed this post as he left. 

In the dank world of concrete jail cells, inmates share a common mantra, ‘l’m innocent!’ What else can they say, a declaration of guilt certainly won’t get them any privileges. Lucky for them a robust legal system allows for the genuine innocent to find solace in knowing that a wrong, will, in time, be corrected. Well, good luck with that!

The reality is, since the advent of DNA there are more convictions, but, worryingly, more wrongful incarcerations than before science started influencing juries. The reason being? The astonishing accuracy of DNA has caused a ripple-on effect whereby nuovo scientific analysis has entered the crime lab, and some of those – less bullet proof – techniques have proven to be questionable, or in the worse cases, junk. Yet, presented to a jury of 12 lay-persons, the science sounds like an episode of CSI Homicide. But, media has no place in a court room, albeit that newspapers and Netflix are saturated with wrongful conviction stories.

Science is not the only culprit. Just as bothersome is the contribution that tunnelled-vision police work can make, alongside some over-exuberant prosecutors, those known for hiding exculpatory evidence – the stuff that can point to alternate suspects – causing a judges’ gavel to come crashing down and ‘guilt’ pronounced. Sadly, blind justice is a too common occurrence, it’s become the cancer in our legal system.

Whilst forensics is serious science, the detective process has a lot to do with instinct, gut feeling, and that hard to quantify element of a sixth sense. And perhaps that’s the underlying issue. A seasoned detective can feel out a suspect, pick up on a tremor in a voice, or a suspect’s nervousness, and most times they are right; the result of a practitioner good at his craft. A poor detective, on the other hand, can be known for taking a stab in the dark, and that’s the problem, there are as many poor sleuths as there are Sherlocks. Combine the former with a prosecutorial lawyer with way too much ambition and you could have a miscarriage of justice. Then the real mess begins, a flawed prosecution is forever hampered by an archaic appeal system that can drag on for decades as prosecutors stonewall efforts to free a potential innocent. Or protect reputations!

Progressive governments have balanced the guilty ledger with a get-out clause, allowing
controversial convictions access to a criminal case review commission (CCRC). This cause and effect solution has overturned convictions in United Kingdom, USA, Canada and so on, where CCRC teams of elite detectives, lawyers and scientists have reviewed thousands of cases that failed at Appeal, and – shockingly – prisoners have been shown to be innocent or suffered a miscarriage of justice. For example, two thirds of the cases taken on by the English CCRC – involving 450 prisoners – went in favour of the convicted, their convictions overturned. Clearly, there is something astray in the adversarial system of justice; bias, stonewalling or lack of transparency. It’s been up to brave politicians to ignore the influences of politics in the court system, and establish a competent CCRC. Such bravery recently shone on the socially savvy Prime Minister of New Zealand, who saw a real need, and instigated such a commission.

Not so in Australia. Our Prime Minister – often on the global stage waving his coronavirus flag – is behind the rest of the CCRC world in spotlighting injustices. Whilst his search for the origins of a deadly virus is commendable, he ignores the growing phenomenon of questionable prosecutions. And, let me tell you, this is no rare phenomenon either, it is steeped in history. I recall graduating from the police academy forty years ago to a back drop of Lindy Chamberlin protesting her innocence, only to be laughed at by any cop that sat in a Muster Room reading the headlines. Then, thanks to years of perseverance her undeniable innocence was vindicated and she was freed. By then I was a detective and the opinions of those still sitting in the Muster Rooms, were that the ‘bitch got off!’

That’s part of why a CCRC has never been embraced in Australia. We are miles behind the rest of the world and riddled with the ridiculous notion that cops can do no wrong. Bullshit! Ask Lindy about wrong. Ask Andrew Mallard, who served 12 years before being cleared of murder only after a UK forensic professor stepped in and highlighted an abysmal police investigation.

Likewise, Henry Keogh in Adelaide, convicted on the dodgiest of forensic evidence for a murder that never happened, but not before serving 21 years! And on it goes. Grandmother Sue Neill-Fraser in Hobart sits inside one of those special concrete jail cells, she’s doing 23 years for murder. After decades as a detective – in some of the most important task forces in our history – I put my magnifying glass on the original police investigation which convicted her, only to discover a train wreck of errors including lost, manipulated or ignored DNA that is an embarrassment to detective training. The matter is now before a prolonged Appeal process, thanks to our friend COVID19, the only villain that gets all the oxygen in Australia from the government.

Dr Bob Moles

The eminent legal academic Dr Robert Moles, who has flogged a near-dead horse for years over wrongful convictions – and knows more on these injustices than anyone – believes there could be 800 innocents wasting away in prisons that may have been wrongly convicted, based on his projections. Even 10% of that number is a shock too hard to bear – and close to the total Australian fatalities of COVID19.

Dr Moles’ worst case is that of Aboriginal Derek Bromley, convicted in 1984 of murder; he’s still incarcerated after 37 years, the longest in the Commonwealth countries under the umbrella of suspected wrongful convictions. He has passed up parole each year since 2008, refusing the mandatory requirement to admit his guilt in return for parole. His self-esteem would rather have him rot away in prison than admit a crime he states he never committed. A compelling argument.

For me, I cannot imagine what it would be like – despite my recent stint of isolation … at home with lounge suite, fluffy bed, full refrigerator, heating, TV – to be locked away for 13,505 days! And that’s the point here, no one can understand, there is no empathy, no way of putting ourselves in the footwear of a wrongfully convicted person. The issue, sadly, is this country’s worst injustice.

As a detective, I did it all and hold great memories. However, my experiences in wrongful convictions has tilted my view of our judicial system. I no longer have trust in it, there must be some currency for change in the Bromley, Neill-Fraser, Keogh and Mallard cases, surely wool can’t be pulled over so many eyes. How our politicians and Attorneys General have let our court systems survive this string of false positives without appointing an independent watchdog is a guilt on its own. I’m not a traitor to the thin blue line, I have just seen too much, and if truth be-known, I recall some odd behaviour decades past by overzealous cops and prosecutors, in the name of getting a conviction.

By the way, I wrote to the Federal Attorney General outlining my concerns in the Sue Neill-Fraser conviction and need for a CCRC. Likewise, to the Prime Minister. And 28 other senior politicians. Not one had the gumption to write back. Yet, most of them today seem to be busy directing traffic in the war against coronavirus, making sure we keep our social distancing in check. What about social justice? Yes, Australian politicians are ahead on matters COVID19, but a country mile off addressing an equally disturbing sickness, the cancerous phenomenon of wrongful convictions.

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40 Responses to A cancerous phenomenon

  1. AB (name supplied) says:

    With all the fake news we’re fed these days, it’s hard to believe much. But it’s easy to believe what this respected ex-detective is telling us about the flaws in our justice system.
    What a disgrace that our country buries its head in the sand and sanctions these Tasmanian thugs.
    Systems make mistakes. They can be improved by capturing data, analysing failures and strengths, and adjusting accordingly. Tasmania sounds perfect for a pilot project.

  2. Liz Porter says:

    Yes, I agree that we need a Royal Commission to expose the fatally flawed detective work that underpinned the conviction of Sue Neill-Fraser. And we need a UK-style Criminal Case Review Commission to look at other potentially questionable cases. I am less inclined than some to point the finger at forensic science, however, and more disposed to look at the role of “nominative” policing (where you choose a suspect and find only the evidence that points in his or her direction) . The DNA evidence – when it is finally admitted in court – will, I hope free Sue Neill-Fraser. Forensic evidence finally freed Mallard and also Keogh (where eminent Melbourne forensic pathologist Professor Stephen Cordner had always been of the opinion that the “murder” Keogh was charged with could have been an accidental fall in the bath).

  3. Chris says:

    On the need for a CCRC, the UK model is not a good one. It has just become an extention of a flawed justice system. Several US jurisdictions now have very good “conviction integrity units” that serve as a better model to follow. These have broader powers that complement the justice system, allowing a different perspective which can often show up errors.

  4. Chris says:

    Unfortunately, much of forensics is not serious science. There is a lack of scientific history or culture in forensics, and it continues to this day. So many simply do not apply the scientific method. Indeed, many top forensic experts in our most respected institutions, are actively anti-science, whilst the leaders of our forensic academies are just not steeped in science. Forensic science is a misnomer. I wish I were exaggerating.

  5. Daniel Scharf says:

    Colin McLaren’s post is disturbing but insightful. The situations he mentions are just disgusting and show how treacherous and dishonest the system can be. I questioned a seasoned Tasmanian detective about the Sue Neill-Fraser case and in particular the finding of Meaghan Vass’s DNA on the boat, His answers were astonishing and totally unrealistic by saying the DNA could have got there in any number of different ways at different times. No wonder Sue Neill-Fraser is locked up, she had no chance for justice.
    Good on Colin for pursuing this case.

  6. owen allen says:

    This is my latest comment with my first comment and the story which has relevance to societal problems.

    ://www.themercury.com.au/news/opinion/talking-point-a-society-that-wallows-in-faultfinding-faces-a-bleak-future/news-story/19a3ba62bb248cabcff99db91667c441

    owen 21 hours ago query_builderPENDING Hear! hear! Senator Abetz. And let Australia set up a Criminal Cases Review Commission A.S.A.P. And bring in Whistle Blower protection at the Federal Level. And bring on a Royal Commission Tasmania; re the Justice System, from Govt, Judiciary, Police. And release Sue Neill-Fraser now. It is obvious she is innocent. Stop the charade. ALL LIVES MATTER.

    And they refuse to put it up.

  7. owen allen says:

    Tasmanian Mercury newspaper online refuse to publish this comment, been “pending” for 21 hours. In response to Senator Abetz.

    Hear! hear! Senator Abetz. And let Australia set up a Criminal Cases Review Commission A.S.A.P.
    And bring in Whistle Blower protection at the Federal Level.
    And bring on a Royal Commission Tasmania; re the Justice System, from Govt, Judiciary, Police.
    And release Sue Neill-Fraser now. It is obvious she is innocent. Stop the charade.
    ALL LIVES MATTER.

  8. Mary Lewis says:

    Thank you Andrew and all here who support the need for justice when justice does not appear to have been done. Of course we need a criminal cases review commission in each State or at a Federal level with powers to set aside unsafe State convictions at State level. But I doubt it will happen until there are a few demonstrations in front of the Federal and State Parliaments with placard-holding people making a bit of a fuss. Dr. Bob Moles believes there are 800 innocent people languishing in prisons. We hear about the high profile ones like Lindy Chamberlain and Sue Neill-Fraser and unpopular though it might be, Cardinal Pell. I estimate from the best available figures, that of the more than 2,500 people referred to the police by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, there will be about 800 men wrongly convicted of sexual abuse against children – perhaps more than 800. We all abhor sexual abuse of any one, but particularly of children. But we also have to abhor the wrongful allegations against men and subsequent incarcerations for lengthy periods based on no more evidence than an allegation. The damaged early childhood backgrounds of some of the claimants are set aside despite the fact that such damage would have a serious negative effect on the claimant’s ability to lay down and store memory properly. The claimants just have to look credible in the current political climate. Then even when a defendant can produce actual documents showing that he was not present on the alleged occasions, and lots of very credible people who say that the defendant just would not be capable of sexually abusing anyone, the jury thinks “oh, but he must have done it”. Even in judge-only trials there is evidence of the judge saying “Oh well, perhaps this, or perhaps that”. Pure speculation. Prepare to see Cardinal Pell as the first of many to have been wrongly convicted and incarcerated. We just won’t hear about most of them as they dribble through the Appeal process in Dubbo, or Port Pirie, or Cairns having had their lives shattered, sold their homes to pay legal bills and developed serious medical complaints from the stress of being convicted of such heinous crimes. Most will struggle to find additional money for an Appeal or have to apply for Legal Aid, and certainly most will be unable to fund an Appeal to the High Court, after the Court of Appeal has said there has been no “error at law” – regardless of the fact that the proverbial “Blind Freddie” can see the crimes could not have been committed. And yes, I know what I am talking about. I personally know four such men and their traumatised families.

  9. owen allen says:

    I respect your process Andrew and am thankful for your service.
    It helps me just writing it and reading it, if others don’t at this time.
    You are witness to my confession and that’s ok by me.
    It is now Morning Chorus and I am blessed to have a lot of birds around. Not often I am awake at this time.
    Usually too late. I am predominately night shift.
    Owen.

  10. owen allen says:

    Don’t anybody jump to conclusions. I have known Stan for over 25 years, aviation was our thing. Stan designed and built his own gyrocopter and I was researching gyros in USA. Stan is not mentoring my activism and we haven’t spoken for a few months.
    I will have to give him a call.

  11. Jerry Fitzsimmons says:

    Lisbeth, once again I can only concur with Colin McLaren’s comments and Andrew, this article you posted has enabled many like-minded people to point out why a CCRC is inevitable here in Australia.
    Having taken the time to respectively write letters, send emails and make many phone calls to politicians and other relevant public servants in relation to Sue Neil-Fraser’s wrongful conviction, most which I can say have been ignored outright, has been an exercise in understanding why our growing distrust in government systems is understandable.
    Those who have courteously replied have stated “ Thank you for your correspondence. It will be forwarded on to the relevant Minister”. Then nothing more occurs.
    Again, when a second contact is made with the same ‘public servant’, as Colin says, no one has the gumption to respond or even update.
    Government officials, not all, and in many cases, elected members, have access to all forms of media which in turn keeps them informed about constituencies, State, Territory and Commonwealth matters. Yet when further prompted by concerned citizens they continue to blatantly ignore until challenged publicly only to plead, “non-awareness”.
    They remain remarkably oblivious, their responses often being selective, mostly negligible. They simply become remnants of the worst parts of our history.
    A citizen who dares to have the temerity to seek an acknowledgement from those paid by the public purse, well, forget it.
    All part of the reason why our distrust in public administrators is alarmingly growing.
    To conclude, is there an answer?
    I for one believe that it doesn’t cost anything to be civil, to provide a public service with credibility and to recognise that our democracy will be a better place for it. Furthermore, those citizens who do the credible thing in contacting all the above do not have the same public funded resources available to them. Maybe the comforts of office cause complacency! Just maybe!

    • A. Allan says:

      It is very inappropriate to write to politicians about the Susan Neill-Fraser case at a time when her case is still going through the legal process of the second appeal. You shouldn’t be surprised about no feedback.

  12. Andrew, could you name the politicians you have sent unanswered correspondence to so we can approach them re this lack of accountability.

    Obviously, we can all email the Tasmanian politicians who ought be taking a stand on this matter.

  13. Peter Gill says:

    Last night I watched Muriel’s Wedding – a movie about the transformation of a troubled young woman who did not understand that she can contribute positively to the world, into a woman who knows what doing good is, and is prepared to take the risky action of doing the right thing and becoming a good person whom we all admire – well, almost all of us, I should say.

    Muriel reminded me of Meaghan Vass, and Muriel’s dad in the movie reminded me of the Tasmanian Police. I was glad that at the end of the movie, while Muriel’s “doing good” act led Muriel on the path to a good life, Muriel’s dad seemed to finally begin to understand life better when he referred to himself, saying: “We reap what we sow.”

    Until Colin McLaren became involved in Sue Neill Fraser’s case, Barbara Etter, assisted by Eve Ash, Bob Moles, some mainland bigwigs and many concerned Tasmanian citizens, did a lot of dogged investigation that revealed giant holes almost everywhere in the prosecution of Sue. But, despite all their good work, they didn’t find out the truth.

    It was only when Colin McLaren’s fearless style of investigation, with meticulous detective work combined with a “no fear” approach, was introduced to Sue’s case that the truth at long last emerged, thanks to the bravery of Meaghan Vass and the persistence of Colin. I feel grateful to Colin for turning the high likelihood that Sue is innocent into a certainty.

    Outcomes so far have included that Barbara Etter unjustly lost her livelihood as a lawyer, and Jeff Thompson has similarly been pursued, but we in the general public hope someone in power will see the light in Sue’s case.

    People can criticise Colin McLaren if they want to lose the respect of people like me in the general public. All that does to us is make us lose respect for the person making the unfair and confusing criticism. It was all Greek to me.

    I too have read three of Colin McLaren’s books (Infiltration, JFK: The Smoking Gun and Southern Justice), enjoying them all. I think his doco about Lady Di is amongst his best work, the meticulous nature of his investigation being admirable. If Tasmanian justice turns the corner later this year just like Muriel’s dad seemed to, Colin’s contribution to Sue’s freedom will be considerable. Better late than never.

    We need a CCRC in every State of Australia, or a national CCRC with jurisdiction over every State’s stuff-ups. Ouphrontis – sorry I refuse to use a thesaurus, so “stuff-up” is the most suitable word I can think of.

    • Colin McLaren says:

      Peter, I am humbled by your comments. Genuinely. Thank you for drawing that important parallel between the brave Meaghan Vass and Muriel. Let’s hope the adversaries don’t ruin her before the Appeal. I agree 100%, that a CCRC is not only needed in Tasmania, but across our country. As Gough Whitlam once said, over and over ‘It’s Time.’ Enough lives have been damaged.

  14. owen allen says:

    I am living in a hovel like a hoarder. I commit to work and sleep for survival and health.
    Sleep is more important than food. But I have slid to obesity and slum living conditions in a caravan.
    But I haven’t stopped fighting. My obsession for justice, not my own but Sue Neill-Fraser, because I have been in Risdon regards Taspol corrupt.
    If I die tonight I want you to know, I was visited by Tas D’s at my office opposite Parliament at the Gatehouse Princes Wharf, no longer there.
    I was threatened with arrest if I went up to the stock exchange building.[no longer stock exchange]
    I said the stockbroker attacked me in the cab. The detective said, ‘no he didn’t’.
    I said, yes he did, D said no he didn’t. I said yes he did, D said no he didn’t.
    Detective Sargant said you keep talking like that I will arrest you.
    I said FUCK OFF. I could not imagine being threatened and intimidated like that by police.
    That is NAZI Germany pre World War 2

  15. owen allen says:

    Andrew this for you or anyone. Get your head around this. Justice Tasmania style.
    Bearing in mind the Chief Justice sent a university student to prison for stealing library books. And I was in Maximum security for playing guitar in a public place.
    Something is going on. Very wrong. Fear, corruption??? or am I missing something.

    //www.themercury.com.au/truecrimeaustralia/police-courts/dpp-loses-appeal-of-pairs-sentences-for-vigilante-attack/news-story/ec221d5e9be18a781ead4506531792e8

    MODERATOR: You may find this article behind a paywall. The opening par says this: TWO vigilantes who attacked a Glenorchy man they mistakenly believed had committed a sex crime will not spend a day in jail after the Director of Public Prosecutions lost their appeal.

    • owen allen says:

      Roger that, but what about the vigilantes? They made a mistake.
      See how they work. A crew. Imagine them coming at you.
      But on the other hand the other mob get a crew together and pervert together with lie. Average joe or blow in has absolutely no hope. He speaks out the bad cops get him, me, he stands up , the thugs get him, me.
      But I have stitched up thuggery to the police via, worker neighbour, my boss who sacked me political, local government, father of employer of neighbour local government and political and so it goes on. It is not acceptable, it is unacceptable they refuse to release Sue Neill-Fraser. If I had the money.
      Remember Andrew or if you missed it. I was taken from playing guitar on the street to Maximum Risdon. And was threatened in the truck and as soon as I got to prison. But when asked by a screw whether I had reason to believe or had fear of threat I said no, so I was put in the yard with the hardest crims. And the stabbing murderer tried it on. Can you imagine.
      And this is because Tasmania is just so totally crony and nepotistic.
      I survived and fighting today reclaiming my dues.

  16. owen allen says:

    I salute you Colin McLaren and you Andrew.
    What is it about Scottish heritage? Mr R McDonald contacted and helped me in Tasmania years ago at the request of Human Rights Commissioner at the time Robert Henderson. Mr R McDonald introduced me to ex Vic Detective Andrew McGregor out spoken about Port Arthur, and there is Isla McGregor Whistleblowers Tasmania for decades. I salute you all.
    Eve Ash, Robert Richter, Barbara Etter super heroes of modern society, without people like you society would implode quicker than it will, if we can’t turn it around.
    What is wrong with the mindset of the government and bureaucracy. One word I will leave unsaid.
    Ultimately I believe the jurisdiction lies with the Prime Minister.
    He is the man that declares war, or war is declared on him.
    No buck passing at the top.
    I would like to see men and women of courage, such as the Lafayette Flying Corp, volunteer American pilots WW1 who went to France.
    The Flying Tigers AVG, American volunteer pilots that went to China WW2 before
    Pearl Harbour.
    The Ravens, volunteers for the Steve Canyon Program they knew nothing about in the Vietnam war Communism v Democracy.
    The French Resistance against Nazis WW2 including the White Mouse, Nancy Wake code name November Whiskey in todays resistance movement.
    Continuing to fight has been my salvation thus far. I was so mentally ill with trauma
    I would descend into a state of shock talking or even thinking about my 14 years in Tasmania.
    Viva La Resistance.

    • Colin McLaren says:

      Owen,
      You are carrying a heavy load, hang in there. And thank-you!

      • owen allen says:

        Very much appreciated thank you Colin.
        I thought about mentioning it, but didn’t, if you were to analyse my history you would observe a social culture.
        my gear is available if you wanted to. Andrew has my contact details. But I do not answer unknown telephone calls, my phone diverts. I receive sms and email from a recognisable sender or PO Box 264 Lismore NSW 2480.
        Years ago I sent a letter to the Premier at the time. I don’t have a copy, only some drafts.
        “Society is a living organism. Tasmanian society is largely bacterial, controlled by xxxxx” I don’t have on hand the drafts and can’t remember anymore.
        I hit hard and truthfull. Bacteria is corruption as per dictionary.
        Not nice, but they weren’t nice to me.
        Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.
        The Premier came over one day walking past my office.
        He didn’t speak, I never spoke to him.
        I was invited for lunch one day as a guest in parliament, something they do apparently. Invited by a the small business guv. Seated closely opposite the Deputy Prem, the Prem wasn’t there, she asked; what do I want?
        I freaked out, being a socially inept introvert, I had a flashback of a movie with I think Morgan Freeman; who answered the question, Freedom and Education, and that’s what I said.
        They must have realised then they had me by the big toe.
        I was attempting to stand up for my rights but I wasn’t a power monger antagonist. So I just wondered.
        But before that I had been invited to a Federal launch of a new member by an ex state politician going Federal, attended by Johnny Boy Howard. I got a ride with President of the Liberal Party and we got there early and I helped putting out chairs etc.
        A big police presence; on a river bank, protestors in canoes turned up, Bobby Brown. However I recognised a police officer and pointed him out to a party member and said he is a thug. And she said, that’s how we like them. NO BULLSHIT.
        He was kicked out of D to uniform for thuggery. Fact on file.
        But also riding a Harley Davidson to earn an income is what I did, I did meet bikers. I met with Outlaws because a building contractor for them was going to be run out of town by locals.
        Yep a carbon copy.
        After I basically lost my career as a cropduster I drove cabs.
        We started a business Harley Davidson and sidecar tours and rides. 7 years, until I was refused bail for failing to appear. No legal rep in front of a JP after hours court, they didn’t put me out in afternoon, my lawyer went home. LIFE CRASH. Incarcerated. First panic attack of my life but I handled it.
        Locked up at 40.
        But we had to fight for the business. I knew the 1927 Traffic Act and we appealed licences given by Transport. It is what you do. I fought for an aviation licence and won but couldn’t undertake it.[ I was to socially inept and introverted to bring in or sell my hard won licence].
        So two people we appealed against. The brother of a police officer. The police officer defected the car. He was from another area.
        The second person who retaliated came and threatened me and he was a Major in the Army; and I wrote to them. He was a New Man after that I expect. Same as ex Premier Newman of Qld from Tasmania, who established the new “bikie laws”.
        It goes on and on until I escaped; but it didn’t stop there.
        God Bless and thankyou. Lest We Forget Stan Hanuszewicz,
        retired With Honours of Beyond The Call. A friend and mentor.

  17. Jerry Fitzsimmons says:

    Dear Andrew, might be time for the replies to your always very informative updates regarding”wrongful convictions” to be reviewed.
    I concur with the remarks of Colin McLaren, whom I have never had the pleasure to meet but as he has stated “ …drop the puny nom de plume”.
    Andrew, those of us who supply our name, I believe, do not have hidden agendas.
    We all have the right to express our opinions, be they either supportive or non-supportive of your commentary.
    When a nom de plume expresses opinion that attempts to denigrate another respondent it could be considered as anarchic, a kind of “hidden agenda” opportunist intent on taking advantage of your growing list of readers.
    Your genuine support for Sue Neil-Fraser’s wrongful conviction has long been established.
    Colin McLaren’s genuine support for Sue Neil-Fraser’s wrongful conviction has long been established. A reason why he and many other openly named people continue to call for a CCRC.
    But what can I say about this opportunistic “nom de plume” other than “ please establish your commitment, one way or another, to Sue Neil-Fraser’s wrongful conviction.
    Andrew, as always, great insightful writing.

  18. Marion R Hosking OAM says:

    As a subscriber to The New Yorker I have read of many, and worse , cases like this in USA. Recentltly two prisoners walked free after wrongful imprisonment for forty years!

    We also recently had a case of long and wrongful imprisonment. I do not hear anything from her accusers or the law only those willing to defend her? Why is that? Of the whole population Sue Neill-Fraser must be the least to fear!

  19. Ouphrontis says:

    (Comment deemed an offensive personal attack with no value to the discussion regarding the topic, and thus removed.)

    • John Biggs says:

      It is significant, Ouphrontis, that you use a nom de plume while attacking McLaren on personal grounds and not on the specific quality of his investigation in the SNF case. Have you even read his book? He paints a convincing case of who murdered Bob Chappell, how, and why. Even if he is wrong in his conclusions — and I repeat his case is very plausible — it blows apart the case for convicting SNF on circumstantial evidence. For that to hold there should be no other plausible case other than that SNF is guilty. There is such a case — and indeed there are several less plausible ones — and that ‘s all you need to dismiss the current conviction. You have simply used a personal attack on McLaren to “prove” SNF’s guilt. Not good enough, old son.

    • Tom Cairns says:

      Oh my, don’t we love big words! No wonder you hide your name.

    • Colin McLaren says:

      Dear Ouphrontis. Your nom de plume means ‘who cares.’ I do!
      I am saddened that you are unable to stay on point, as to whether Australia has an real need for a criminal case review commission CCRC. You attack the fine institution of Victoria Police, ‘wilting under its own weight of deceit and dishonestly’. Sure they have problems with many potential miscarriage’s of justice, due to the complex issue of a lawyer becoming an informer, causing 100s of her clients to be incarcerated. But that’s my point! It has been the point for so long, that police departments everywhere can get it wrong, innocent ‘suspects’ can be convicted, by the work of poor forensics, lax detective work, misguided lawyers and a system that is showing more false positives each year. Surely, as a nation in the G20, where other advanced countries have a CCRC or equivalent, we are looking shabby without one. How many proven examples of wrongful convictions do we need to suffer before we get a CCRC, a watchdog over incompetent prosecutions?

      This is not just about Hobart, its about 26 million Australians who need to feel a sense of trust in justice.

      You choose the easy option to attack me, stating that I was a detainee as a youth. Yes, as a 13 year old the Social Welfare department rescued me and my 11 year old brother from a violent, alcoholic father, who had us living upstairs in rough-house pubs, or rooming houses filled with thugs. We were kept in a boys home for ‘care and protection’, until my brave mother found suitable accommodation, to re-unite the siblings, and flee the violence. (not once did I come under the eyes of the law) You also state that I had a poor education in my formative years, as if this precludes my right to any opinions now. Yet, you fail to mention my academic achievements as an adult. Perhaps you don’t know everything, perhaps you are lost in belittling the messenger, perhaps your vitriol takes over, where your head fails to contribute. Yes, I get it, you don’t care!

      I suggest you take a Bex powder and lay down for a minute, and think over this key social issue; can our collective justice systems benefit from a CCRC? Or do we have to suffer more anguish, ala, Bromley, Keogh, Mallard, Neill-Fraser cases, and dozens more? Take note of our younger generations march on the streets last week, protesting that Black Lives Matter, too many indigenous Australians (they say) are the subject of miscarriages of justice, some die in custody. We must break this cycle, and a federally funded CCRC could identify errors in judgment and slow down the cancer.

      BTW, drop the puny nom de plume, and stand up and be counted!

      • Ouphrontis says:

        (Edited) Colin, again with due respect, “Ouphrontis” as a term means, “do not care for me, as I am capable of looking after myself”, I have been reliably informed by an educated greek historian,

    • A. Allan says:

      I read your comments before they were deleted. You are unique – the only supporter of Susan Neill-Fraser who openly asks for Colin McLaren to disassociate from her case. This requires further exploration. I disagree with John Biggs who stated that you “simply used a personal attack on McLaren to “prove” SNF’s guilt.” I don’t think that John read your brief comment of Nov last year. Your comment was “tragedy and unmistakable example of how little has changed among sections of the Oz community since colonial days. Keep strong Sue and supporters.”

  20. Tom Cairns says:

    It is hard not to be reminded of the ineptitude of the police investigation into the Azaria Chamberlain disappearance, Her mother was gone from company only a few minutes but did the police cordon off a circle radiussed by the distance a woman could run, murder a child, dispose of its body and return, not even breathless, in that interval, then conduct a thorough search of the circle? Not as I recall.
    It is a matter of record as to how warped logic and presumption can become fact beyond a reasonable doubt in the minds of a jury of possibly questionable intelligence. The lawyers, the police and the judge are actors on a stage and the audience is comprised of “twelve good men and true”. The performance is appraised by the actors’ delivery and not whether the play is fact or fiction.
    Simplistic? Maybe, but in the face of the suppression, more than anything else, the cost to a potentially innocent and apparently decent human being is totally unacceptable. More, it is obscene.
    Even if Colin McLaren, Eve Ash, Liam Bartlett and all the other protesters could ultimately be proved wrong the shadow of doubt is very dark indeed at this point in time and it is time that is the ransom of that obviously decent lady Susan Neill-Fraser.
    Even if we release her now and pay a vast sum of compensation, sack a dozen cops and retire a tired old judge it will not give Sue back her lost years.
    Come on Tasmania. This is neither an evening at the theatre nor a game of “footy”.

  21. Jennifer Riley says:

    Sue Neill-Fraser is a dedicated mother and grandmother. She had a beautiful future with her partner Bob planned out between them. It was going to be a reward for the many years of planning now that both families were settled and doing well. There simply was no motive for either of them to not carry through with their plans. They were both very responsible adults with Bob staying on the yacht mending and acclimatising himself for future trips. There simply was no reason for either of them to not go through with their plans. They were delighted with the boat and keen t do some local sailings before embarking on a larger journey. The dna question does not predict or forsee Sue’s incarceration. She was so obviously in deep shock from losing her partner by the people later identified as perpretators that detectives took the easy way out and went via the weakest most expediant link ie Sue and not the intuders on the yacht. She must be freed and exonerated. It is an extreme embarrassment of the judicial system of Tasmania.

  22. LB says:

    What a frightening situation – a former detective raising serious concerns with the Federal Attorney General, the Prime Minister as well as numerous senior politicians and not even a reply? Apart from being grossly rude this amounts to absolute dereliction of duty and a complete lack of interest in affording an Australian justice – each and every one of the recipients of letters from Colin McLaren should be ashamed. Tasmanian authorities have similarly shown little interest in having the Susan Neill Fraser case reviewed in a timely fashion so it is logical to lobby at the Federal level, even if only to put pressure on the Tasmanians to act and review the case, which should have been done long before now. As for the Bromley case, how damn sad. That this is happening in Australia is astounding. It really is way past the time for people to be accountable for their actions and inaction. It is scandalous, utterly scandalous that nobody in power is listening to these serious concerns raised by not just anybody, but by eminent lawyers, detectives as well as the media, who have pointed out serious flaws, and in the case of SNF even presented damning DNA evidence, doing the work that should have been done in the first place! Totally unbelievable.

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