Andrew L. Urban.
Sue Neill-Fraser’s legal team conceded before lunch on Day 2 of the appeal against her murder convction, that Meaghan Vass, highly stressed and agitated from the beginning, was delivering testimony during cross examination that would not be considered reliable, removing her testimony from the grounds of appeal – and focusing on the fresh new DNA evidence.
Vass was already upset before the court session began, that the names of individuals she had mentioned on Day 1 as being with her on the yacht had been widely published in the morning media, when she had understood the names would be suppressed by court order. They now are. (Removed later in the day on application by the media.)
The court granted her immunity from prosecution for any crimes she may have committed in relation to the matter prior to her giving testimony.
Again testifying via video link, Vass was accompanied by an official carer but that did not calm her emotional state. The court adjourned until Wednesday, March 3, 2021.
It should be remembered that there is no direct evidence that Sue Neill-Fraser murdered Bob Chappell. The presumption of innocence with which our legal system operates means that she was not required to prove anything. The prosecution was required to prove its case against her – beyond reasonable doubt. The jury found her guilty.
In this appeal, the testimony of Meaghan Vass was intended to back up the discovery of her DNA on the deck of the yacht – the crime scene.
Her anguished mental state has impeded her delivery of coherent and reliable testimony; but the DNA is a fact. It was dismissed at trial and set aside as being a secondary deposit, not capable of being exculpatory.
Fresh new testimony that asserts it was a primary deposit is sufficient to argue that had the jury been aware of that pertinent fact, it would have had to entertain reasonable doubt about the guilt of the accused. And the judge would have no doubt so instructed.