Undercurrent, the 6-part docoseries digging into the investigation leading to the murder conviction of Tasmanian grandmother Sue Neill-Fraser broadcast on the Seven Network in March 2019, except in Tasmania, is now available to watch free, around the world, on TUBI.
The continued detention of Sue Neil-Fraser is as everyone appears to agree, deplorable, corrupt, vicious and probably “constitutes” a criminal act. In order to appreciate fully the wrong one must read with a legal mind the HC of A Decision in Pell and apply the evidence presented at trial of the now alleged overt acts against the findings of the full bench, therein redefining Reasonable Doubt, which was well overdue! Only then does the absurdity of the Neil-Fraser continued detention and standing conviction present itself in clear light!
The Lindy Chamberlain Story has recently been shown a number of times here in WA apparently because it had such good ratings.
What was interesting was the reaction of the public in general, the divisive effect of the trial between well wishers and sickos who write poison-pen letters because somehow it gratifies their own low self-esteem and no doubt their loneliness.
The end result of the presentation also stressed the toll that was drawn from Lindy’s own spirit and well-being. On her release she looked haggard and spent, as well she might, and I don’t think she ever really recovered her young-woman’s looks. Even in prison her ‘minders’ persecuted her using their own disgusting acts of person to do so.
By all reports there is no such depravity in Risdon where Susan Neill-Fraser is continuing to bide her time and I hear that she is popular with both the staff and the inmates.
But that will never justify this deliberate procrastination that is keeping Sue in a confinement that is already twice as long as was Lindy Chamberlain’s. Engineered delays and untruths have their own inherent depravity as is the concern that many guilty parties could be able to live with the knowledge that they destroyed another human being who did not deserve one bit of it.
There are other aspects and questions involved with this case. Do Tasmanians feel instinctively that what they do is none of the mainland’s business, and is this mutual, that mainland Australians are not ever seriously concerned about what goes on in that disconnected and slightly odd part of the nation as a whole?
This is like saying that they are not real Australians but more like aliens. The big worry is that it might indeed be mutual, or even be right.
There are now less that 500 virus cases in Victoria from a population of over 5 million. The chances of the participants in the SNF trial being positive is negligible so who will now push the government to set a new date for the appeal? It is in the government’s interest to get this done as the inevitable compensation cash register is ticking over. The longer SNF is in gaol, the bigger the cost to Tasmanian taxpayers. Just get it done Mr. Premier.
Keith, as we now know, reason and common sense and a sense of urgency to have this conviction reviewed are all missing. The Tasmanian establishment is just going through the motions; the legal/law enforcement communities do not want Sue Neill-Fraser released. Those responsible certainly don’t want the criticisms that have circulated for the last few years to be repeated in a court – and then any of the media with the integrity to report facts. The Premier’s office is the last place to look ‘to get it done’. Sorry to be a wet blanket; I wish integrity was a concept familiar to those lawyers and judges and police who are responsible for administering the law in Tasmania.
Of course, the Virus thing has little or nothing to do with the continued “detention” of the Victorian population. It is a power/control issue. No one would be surprised if Andrew’s next move was to build “internment camps”.
I’ve just watched some of the later episodes of Undercurrent – first time ever. I’m pretty much up to speed with a lot of the case, even before having watched the episodes.
A number of people – and I won’t mention them all by name – have made outstanding efforts over the years now, since 2009 to find the truth and to free Sue. Two, however, should be congratulated for their contributions which are seen in ‘Undercurrent’, ‘Shadow of Doubt’ and ‘Southern Justice’: Eve Ash and Colin McLaren.
I was disgusted to see (in episode 3?) the police officer interrogating Sue tell what to me seemed to be a bare-faced lie, the lie being that Phillip Triffet came to police with his allegations well before the near-sinking of the Four Winds. The reality is that he came forward, via phone, around 4:00pm of the 28Jan2009 … the day following the news in the media which detailed the incident at Sandy Bay on 26Jan2009.
With the benefit of hindsight – easy for a bloke like me – it seems that Eve and Colin made a strategic mistake in taking the ‘Richter Dossier to a meeting with the then Premier, Will Hodgman, the then Attorney-General Matthew Groom and the Solicitor-General Michael O’Farrell, who [Sept 2020] continues in his position. True, Richter’s involvement dated back some years – in 2013 he had written to a previous Attorney-General (Brian Wightman) asking for a Commission of Inquiry (on behalf of Sue and Bob?)
Subsequently, Sue’s solicitor (Jeff Thompson) was raided at his home, police taking his computer and stax of files … including (I believe) those received by him from Barbara Etter after she withdrew from acting for Sue. Following that raid, Karen Keefe was arrested and went into Risdon. She had returned from Victoria where she had assisted Ash and McLaren in their efforts to understand what Meaghan Vass’s memory of the night in question might be. The homeless man, Stephen Gleeson, serving a sentence for a non-related violent assault, was charged with ‘pervert justice’ just as Keefe had been. And then, Jeff Thompson himself was charged, similarly.
The Tasmanian Police have dug in, saying ‘nothing to see here, move on’ yet those of us who follow this case believe that the arrest/charges against those three were something of a ‘pre-emptive’ strike … whether it was in the form of a ‘fishing expedition’ to see what sort of material Sue’s legals would lead in support of her application for leave to make a second appeal, or whether it was simply to throw a bomb into the applicant’s camp.
We also believe that it is entirely possible that Meaghan Vass was ‘leaned on’ prior to her bombshell repudiation of her earlier ‘I was on the boat’ affidavit. Mr Percy first learnt of her intention to ‘renege’ on the very morning of her scheduled appearance in court.
Q How did he learn of it?
A He read it in The Australian newspaper of that morning!
Matthew Denholm (Tasmanian correspondent for The Australian) had published an article foreshadowing that Vass was going to repudiate her earlier statement. It would not, in my view, be inappropriate to ask whether Denholm had been briefed by police in advance of Vass coming (30Oct2017) to court. If the answer is ‘yes’, then the next question is why were police releasing such information the day or so before the court hearing. Don’t they have a ‘contempt of court’ liability?
So, what was it that the police had told Denholm?
On 13Oct2017, in the presence of Police Officer Damien George, Meaghan Vass had signed a statement which read:
“Damien showed me a statement , that i have read and wish to declare that it is false and ive never been on the boat. Colin offered me money that i never received”
For those with a will to do so … go and check out how Denholm wrote that up. Keep in mind how Vass, being examined by Mr Percy QC, asked Justice Brett for a break, and belted out of the court-room, calling out loudly:
‘Damien, I can’t do this anymore
Well the DPP/TasPol got what they apparently wanted: during her five minutes out of the witness box, she had a brief conversation with Damien, and then returning to the courtroom, resumed the thrust of her earlier evidence … that her 27Apr2017 (‘I was on the boat and Sue wasn’t’) statement was false, that she’d done it under threat.
So Vass held this line, and finally was allowed to leave. The hearings continued on for a year or so, till McLaren gave evidence over two days, by video (due to ‘health considerations’). He however, was at least cognisant that just like Eve, if they returned to Tasmania, they were themselves likely to be arrested.
And then, (Mar2020) Justice Brett accepted a further statement from Vass, re-affirming her 27Apr2017 statement that she’d been on the boat. She (via 60 Minutes) rejected what she’d told the court on 30Oct2017′
I personally was shocked later when Matthew Denholm published material which, seemingly again coming from police sources, alleged that Vass had again moved away from her ‘I was on the boat’ account. This was obvious disinformation. We know what happened…
TasPol learnt that 60 Minutes was about to screen the Vass ‘I was on the boat, saw it happen etc’ interview. So, before it screened, they had an unmarked car park outside where she was staying, picked her up and got her in the car, searched her handbag, found a bud/head of dope, took her back to Damien George where he tried to get her to answer questions about her Neill-Fraser 60Minutes statement. She refused, though admitted possession of the dope.
We only know this via:
(i) Andrew’s earlier articles on this matter, and
(ii )Andrew’s transcript of what occurred in court when Vass presented to answer the dope charges.
In my opinion, we need an Inquiry (aka ‘Royal Commission) to seek the truth of these matters. The courts have shown themselves to be abject failures. The Premier, A-G and S-G have done a ‘Pontius Pilate’, the DPPs and the police reaffirm our status as a ‘convict state’.
And the truth languishes in jail, just as Susan Neill-Fraser still languishes in prison … remember … she lodged her application for leave to make a second appeal [on the ground of fresh and compelling evidence] in 2015.
Yep, 2015. Even though she has presented what on the face of it is ‘fresh and compelling evidence’, here we are some five years later … she’s still in prison. Five rotten years of legal rigamarole, five years of police counter-action, five years of DPP stubborn intransigeance. Throw in the prison service who have co-operated in bugging rooms where legal persons speak with clients, throw in attempts to place a certain prisoner next to Sue in the prison. Throw in a Premier, an Attorney-General and a Solicitor-General … one at least of whom threw those Leave-to-2nd-Appeal persons to the dogs … well actually, it was to the police that they were thrown to. Meanwhile, Susan Neill-Fraser remains in prison – a victim of a ‘dig-in’ mentality.
Welcome to Tasmania.
Thanks, Garry, valuable overview for a Royal Commissioner …
CORRECTION (by Garry Stannus):
“And then, (Mar2020) Justice Brett accepted a further statement from Vass, re-affirming her 27Apr2017 statement that she’d been on the boat. She (via 60 Minutes) rejected what she’d told the court on 30Oct2017′
should have read:
“And then, (Mar2019) Justice Brett accepted …”
That’s more than a year and a half since he granted Susan Neill-Fraser leave to make a second appeal. I’m not blaming Justice Brett for the delay, I understand the time lags, the back and forth – and now – the corona virus and the appellant’s wish to have her counsel physically with her in court.
I also note how Justice Wood, just recently when setting yet another directions hearing date, indicated that she did not want to have to vacate the anticipated November date for the 2nd Appeal. Of course, this comes after a number of other, earlier directions hearings in anticipation of the Appeal which seems constantly to stretch into the future, getting further away even as you look at it.
All the while, a woman lives in a prison, for a crime which many believe – and for which evidence now exists – was committed by others unknown to her.
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion’. How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?
Australia learnt nothing from destroying the Chamberlain families lives. Sue Neil Fraser is no doubt innocent. Stop destroying her and her families lives.
Release Sue Neil Fraser now.
Hear hear. The obvious reason for the proliferation of outrageous convictions was covered brilliantly by the late Evan Whitton in a couple of books. The main gist was in that the adversarial system, winning is the thing and the truth, if discovered, is nice but incidental. The law is a business and the adversarial system is best for the bottom line of our legal vultures.
How a civilized society can operate under such restrictions is beyond me.
Here is a glimpse into Evan Whitton’s book “Our Corrupt Legal System’ – darkly entertaining.
A brilliant idea to make these a world-wide feature and I hope they stay available indefinitely. The world has a right to know what kind of place Tasmania is and how their suppression of UNDERCURRENT in the “Apple Isle” says it all. Don’t be surprised if they start burning books. Does the public know that Sue Neill-Fraser is not allowed to receive books from friends and well-wishers?
These are the same authorities that allowed Martin Bryant to own military sidearms.
Great work, keeping the dream alive. Justice in Tasmania.
Release Sue Neill-Fraser Now.
Royal Commission Tasmania.