The directions hearing in the Tasmanian Supreme Court before Justice Wood on Friday, July 3, 2020 was unable to settle on 17 August as the start date for the long awaited appeal against her 2010 murder conviction, reports Rosie Crumpton-Crook, Secretary of the Sue Neill-Fraser Support Group.
Sue was video-linked from Risdon prison and was represented by Paul Smallwood and Paul Galbally who were video-linked from Melbourne. Jack Shapiro represented the Crown and was in court.
Mr Smallwood said that although Sue’s legal team had previously been optimistic that the Appeal would proceed on 17 August 2020, that optimism was now displaced and both parties agreed that the 17 August appeal hearing should now be vacated and listed instead for November. Mr Smallwood acknowledged that this was very unfortunate for the appellant, but said that both parties had reached the conclusion that realistically the matter could not proceed in August due to the spike in COVID19 cases in Victoria, which would impact on the ability of counsel to travel to Tasmania.
Justice Wood however, stated that she felt it would be premature to vacate the August dates. She acknowledged that uncertainties are difficult but she stated that she wanted all possible options to be explored before moving to the November date. She asked that Sue’s legal team look at different options – such as some of Sue’s legal team travelling to Tasmania, and some appearing by video link. She also asked that all requirements for travel / quarantine / what would be classed as essential travel etc be explored.
Justice Wood stated that she was happy to leave a decision for two to three weeks, but she wanted work to continue in the meantime, regardless of when the matter will proceed.
Mr Smallwood stated that Sue’s team had felt in person presentation was essential, but it may be that not all had to present in person.
Mr Shapiro stated that the State wanted to deal with this matter as soon as possible, but the ability to plan efficiently was also needed. Mr Shapiro reported that the DPP will file Proof of Evidence either no later than Monday, 6 July.
Justice Wood adjourned matters for a further Directions Hearing at 9.30am on Friday 24 July 2020.