Vass testimony & the courtroom war over DNA

Andrew L. Urban.

On Tuesday, DPP Daryl Coates SC, from whom the soured milk of human unkindness oozed like puss, was relentless in exploiting the vulnerability of Meaghan Vass and her distressing emotional unraveling to achieve his objective: damage or destroy the credibility of her testimony in the appeal court. 

Not once did he acknowledge, let alone sympathise with, her anguish, her tears, her stress. Not once did he approach her with the faintest kindness of one human to another. Not once did he treat her as a vulnerable and visibly distressed young woman. She was just an obstacle to be bulldozed out of his way to a court room battle victory. But the war was not over.

For all the distasteful way the DPP brought her to such distress she’d have agreed to being held at gun pont to sign her statements, the fact remains a fact. If her DNA was on the yacht – the fact – her gyrating testimony can be pinned to that fact.

For example, the DPP put it to her that she could not remember ever having been on the yacht. She agreed, accepting eveything he put to her rather robotically by then. But the fact was and is still there. Her DNA remembers very well. In other words, whatever her spoken testimony then, later and now, her DNA is unshakeable testimony.

THE DNA BATTTLE

That was the ground on which the last battle was fought in the appeal court, ending soon after lunch today (Wednesday, March 3, 2021).

Shortly before 10 am, Sue Neill-Fraser was delivered by wheelchair into court 1 of the Supreme Court in Hobart’s Salamanca, to be greeted by the gathered supporters singing Happy Birthday … quietly. It brought a smile to her face and to everyone else’s in court. It’s not the preferred way to spend your 67th birthday, but she had no choice.

Then it started, the final battle over the DNA evidence that is the key to this appeal. The earlier evidence given by Meaghan Vass was described as not relevant to this court, when Chris Carr SC began his submission to the three justices sitting on the bench, on behalf of ‘the applicant’.

Carr argued that the prosecution’s treatment of the DNA evidence, which had been matched to Meaghan Vass, was “untenable”, referring to the then DPP’s closing address to the jury in which this evidence was referred to as a “red herring”.

Rather than being a secondary transfer ‘on someone’s shoe’ as the Crown maintained, according expert evidence of Maxwell Jones of the Victorian police forensic service tendered in the seeking leave appeal on October 2017, it was a primary deposit. DPP Daryl Coates SC later argued that Jones could not entirely rule out that it was by secondary deposit, in some exceptional circumstance.

Carr submitted that the evidence from Jones constituted the ‘Fresh’ requirment for this appeal. It also satisfied the ‘Substantial’ requirement. (As in substantial miscarriage of justice.)

The Crown continued for some time to submit to the judges a variety of elements from the trial, as if this hearing was re-litigating the matter. The helte-skelter nature of his submission prompted Justice Wood at one stage to ask for clarification: “Is it the Crown hypothesis that Vass didn’t go on the boat.” Coates affirmed it is. The jury, he submitted, didn’t have to accept that she did, at the relevant time. Nevertheless, he insisted on submitting to the court that the DNA was a secondary transfer, from somewhere else, not directly left by Vass.

He was also at pains to suggest that maybe, possibly, Vass had got on board and left her DNA while the yacht was at the Cleanlift facility in Goodwood. There had been break in there, tools missing…

In summary, Coates had floated the possiblities that the DNA was transferred to the deck of the Four Winds on a shoe from somewhere else in Hobart; it was also possible that Vass deposited it on the deck some 4 days after the discovery of Bob Chappell’s disappearance and presumed death on January 26/27, 2009 – but he did not elaborate whether it was a primary or secondary transfer in that scenario.

We won’t know what the three judges will make of the Crown submissions, nor if they are as impressed with Carr’s submission as was the public gallery.

The judges have reserved their decision.

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127 Responses to Vass testimony & the courtroom war over DNA

  1. Felix Greenwood says:

    Your latest comment has been withheld from publication. This could be due to one of a number of criteria, including the regurgitating of matters previously addressed/debated at length, lack of relevance, ignorance of the key facts of the case, denigration of others/disrespectful commentary, distractions or attempted disruptions and ‘remote psychoanalysis’ of persons involved in the case in question. No correspondence will be entered into.

    • Felix Greenwood says:

      Very well. But why did the editor approve the uploading of the comment by Helen Adkins that discusses a certain car accident involving the former DPP? What has any of that comment by Helen have to do with this appeal and the article to which we are commenting on?

      Doesn’t Helen’s post fit the definition of ‘lack of relevance’?

        • Emma Yukov says:

          I beg your pardon! Where in the Trial Transcript, the 1st appeal, and the current appeal is there any mention of the car accident? Is it not the case that some people like to smear the reputation of the former DPP and are using your blog to do it because they see that you will upload their grievances about the former DPP. Does this help anyone to understand the evidence on which Sue was convicted? Does this help anyone to understand the grounds of the current appeal? Does this help anyone to understand how Meaghan’s DNA got onto the boat or how Bob’s body was removed or how the quality of DNA degrades?

          • andrew says:

            Reflecting on the accident does not ‘smear’ the former DPP; it’s a well reported fact. It does, however, help explain why he is no longer the DPP arguing in this new appeal to protect the conviction he secured.

  2. Emma Yukov says:

    “Mr Coates pondered the length of time Ms Vass’s DNA could have lasted after Australia Day, 2009.

    “Given the significant amount of DNA and the fact it hadn’t degraded at all, is it your opinion that the DNA is … much more likely to have been deposited there shortly before a swab was taken on January 30?” he asked.

    “In terms of survival of biological material, we’re talking days,” Mr Jones said.

    “I’ll be favouring … one or two days.”

    https://www.theadvocate.com.au/story/5024934/dna-questioned-in-susan-neill-fraser-murder-appeal/

  3. JENNIFER KLINE says:

    Your latest comment has been withheld from publication. This could be due to one of a number of criteria, including the regurgitating of matters previously addressed/debated at length, lack of relevance, ignorance of the key facts of the case, denigration of others/disrespectful commentary, distractions or attempted disruptions and ‘remote psychoanalysis’ of persons involved in the case in question. No correspondence will be entered into.

  4. JENNIFER KLINE says:

    Your latest comment has been withheld from publication. This could be due to one of a number of criteria, including the regurgitating of matters previously addressed/debated at length, lack of relevance, ignorance of the key facts of the case, denigration of others/disrespectful commentary, distractions or attempted disruptions and ‘remote psychoanalysis’ of persons involved in the case in question. No correspondence will be entered into.

  5. Felix Greenwood says:

    Peter Gill,

    My auto speller in my previous post must have changed my typing of your surname from ‘Gill’ to ‘Hill’ without my noticing.

    Anyway, since you said that you emailed some top DNA experts I thought that you might be a forensic scientist. Are you the same Peter Gill who authored the following article?

    “DNA evidence and miscarriages of justice”

    • Peter Gill says:

      Felix – no. It’s surely impossible for anyone to mistake my “written after midnight” ramblings – full of mistakes – on this site for the other more distinguished Peter Gill. But I have friends who are among the world’s leading forensic scientists.

      At least I admit to my mistakes, for example, me not noticing that when you quoted a Maxwell Jones comment in 2017, I didn’t notice it wasn’t from the trial. What irritates me is when some people on this site – not you – turn a witness saying “I’m favouring” into a statement of fact about what they favour. Or someone – not you – might alter the location of a blue rag from the words in the transcript to whatever suits her conclusion. Reconstructing the available data to confirm one viewpoint. It’s hard to have a dialogue with such people. Adjust all the data so that it confirms a preconceived view. Such behaviour is unlikely to lead to the truth.

      The book I’ve been reading – Scatterbrain by Henning Kock – is about how important it is to accept that we make mistakes – that’s how our brains are set up and what makes us superior to AI. Having an open mind. Jury members are meant to have open minds. Based on what you see on this website, on other social media such as Facebook, in newspapers and elsewhere, is “having an open mind” that common? To give one example of keeping an open mind when an inconvenient DNA match appears ….

      Say a man disappears in early 2009. Later in 2009 his wife is arrested for murder. In 2010 a DNA sample from the crime scene is matched to person X, throwing the arrest into disarray. Which approach would you recommend, Felix?

      (1) Interview X, discover documented evidence that she had been nearby on the night of the murder, then hide that vital evidence from the defence. Spend years trying to discredit X. Vilify, arrest and drive out of the legal profession those who question the original arrest etc.

      Or

      (2) Seek the truth, whatever it may be.

      The problem in this case is that the authorities have made it look like their priority is (1) not (2), which hardly makes some of us confident of a fair go in Tasmania. If (1) is not what they have been doing, they done a great job of making it look like that is their aim. Those with a closed mind cannot accept that a DNA match after the arrest but before the trial – unlucky timing for Sue – should be investigated thoroughly with an open mind.

      • Felix Greenwood says:

        Peter,

        I don’t wish to be rude. I did earlier suggest that your research the case before replying to me.

        There was absolutely no evidence in 2010 that Meaghan had been nearby (in Sandy Bay) on the night of murder. Therefore, the scenario you proposed to me is incorrect.

        In 2012 her Stat Dec to TaSpol, Meaghan stated (amongst other things) that

        – she was never in Sandy Bay
        – she was never in any yacht in her life
        – she was never on Four Winds

        That Stat Dec was provided to Sue’s defence team about 6-7 years ago. In those 6-7 years, Sue’s defence team hasn’t found a single credible eyewitness (or other evidence) that contradicted her 2012 Stat Dec.

        • andrew says:

          What with all the records, details and dedication to the task of challenging the grounds that undermine her conviction and support Sue Neill-Fraser’s innocence, your comments paint a picture of a TasPol detective fully briefed on the matter… but if you were, surely you’d disclose that, wouldn’t you?

        • Peter Gill says:

          Felix – “Detective Sinnitt had been informed by a member of staff at a women’s shelter in New Town that Vass was listed as a person who would be staying there on the evening of 26 January 2009, but she had told the staff that she wanted to sleep over at Unit 8 at an address she gave at Mount Nelson. The information was that she left the New Town shelter at 3:50 pm with an arrangement that she would telephone later with the telephone number of the person with whom she would be staying at Mount Nelson, but she failed to do so.” Documented evidence of her planning to spend the night of 26/1/09 at the neighbouring suburb to Sandy Bay. Do you know where this evidence can be found?

          • Felix says:

            Peter,

            Have you read my sentence

            “The first sighting of a grey dinghy at portside of Four Winds was around 4pm. But, according to page 754 of the Trial Transcript, Meaghan left Mara House at 3:50 pm:”

            It is on page 754 of the Trial Transcript!!!

            You can download the Trial Transcript from this Tasmanian Times link

            https://www.tasmaniantimes.com/2014/09/the-sue-neill-fraser-trial-transcript/  

          • Felix says:

            Peter, that isn’t “documented evidence of her planning to spend the night of 26/1/09 at the neighbouring suburb to Sandy Bay.”

            She went to her boyfriend who lived in Goodood (the same suburb where the yacht was towed to on the morning of 28th). Goodood is even further from Marietville Esplanade than New Town.

          • Felix says:

            Whilst Mount Nelson is a suburb that neighbours Sandy Bay that still doesn’t put her in the neighbourhood of the Marietville Esplanade or the crime scene. She stated in her 2012 Statement Dec that she was never in Sandy Bay. Therefore, you are following the wrong path.

          • JENNIFER KLINE says:

            Mr Gill,

            This is what you wrote on another thread

            “(1) Interview X, discover documented evidence that she had been nearby on the night of the murder, then hide that vital evidence from the defence. Spend years trying to discredit X. Vilify, arrest and drive out of the legal profession those who question the original arrest etc.”

            Are you now suggesting that Mt Nelson is nearby where Four Winds was moored?
            There is another suburb between Mt Nelson and the mooring of Four Winds. It’s called Sandy Bay.

  6. JENNIFER KLINE says:

    Is it a coincidence that Meaghan ended on 60 Minutes a short time (about 2 weeks) after Colin McLaren’s cross-examination by the DPP in Feb 2019?  That was over a year after Meaghan stated in the Supreme Court in late 2017 that none of the things in her affidavit were true and that she was threatened to be put in a boot of a car.

    My understanding is that by the end of Colin’s cross-examination in Feb 2019 the prospect of Sue being granted the appeal looked pretty grim. I think that therefore, in order to resurrect the chances of the appeal being granted, further pressure was applied on Meaghan. (rest of comment edited for legal reasons)

    • Andy says:

      Jennifer, no offence but i dont think you know what you are talking about.
      Yes she was threatened but the story that she was told over n over to remember was convoluted to say the least. Her 60 mins interview was for her to say the truth with no pressure

      • JENNIFER KLINE says:

        Your latest comment has been withheld from publication. This could be due to one of a number of criteria, including the regurgitating of matters previously addressed/debated at length, lack of relevance, ignorance of the key facts of the case, denigration of others/disrespectful commentary, distractions or attempted disruptions and ‘remote psychoanalysis’ of persons involved in the case in question. No correspondence will be entered into.

      • JENNIFER KLINE says:

        Your latest comment has been withheld from publication. This could be due to one of a number of criteria, including the regurgitating of matters previously addressed/debated at length, lack of relevance, ignorance of the key facts of the case, denigration of others/disrespectful commentary, distractions or attempted disruptions and ‘remote psychoanalysis’ of persons involved in the case in question. No correspondence will be entered into.

      • JENNIFER KLINE says:

        Your latest comment has been withheld from publication. This could be due to one of a number of criteria, including the regurgitating of matters previously addressed/debated at length, lack of relevance, ignorance of the key facts of the case, denigration of others/disrespectful commentary, distractions or attempted disruptions and ‘remote psychoanalysis’ of persons involved in the case in question. No correspondence will be entered into.

  7. Felix Greenwood says:

    This is a lengthier reply to Peter Hill about the DNA.

    Peter Hill wrote in a reply to me:

    “I emailed two of the world’s very top DNA experts overseas and got quick replies. I didn’t ask permission to quote them here so I won’t. They were very hesitant to assign a time value in days. One suggested an experiment to find out if what Jones said might be true or not.”

    I am surprised that the experts he contacted didn’t alert him to a published experimental research article that was published only a month ago. I am not a DNA expert. In fact I am not even a scientist of any sort. I am an electronics engineer. And yet I went online to read about UV damage to DNA molecules. During my online search these past few days, I found the very scientific publication that describes experimental results on the effect of both artificial and natural UV radiation on the quality of DNA. The experimental data is for exposure of up to two hours only. The DNA was sampled at 20 minute intervals. The experimental data shows that, under natural UV exposure, the DNA loci of high molecular weight decay substantially, and at a faster rate, compared to the loci of lower molecular weight.

    As far as I can learn from the news reporting of Maxwell Jones’ opinion during the cross-examination  by the DPP at Sue’s  right-to-appeal application, Maxwell didn’t provide an explanation for his opinion about 1-2 days being the length of time he expected the biological substance to maintain a high quality DNA that was in the sample from the deck of the yacht.

    • Peter Gill says:

      Was that testing done in blood samples?

      In passing, Jones did not expect anything. He favoured something. To give an example – tonight I favour the Broncos to beat the Eels in the NRL. I don’t expect the Broncos to win – I just think it’s a bit more likely the Broncos will win, That’s why I used the word “favour”. And it certainly doesn’t mean the Broncos will win

      • Peter Gill says:

        Oops, the Broncos lost by quite a lot, even though I favoured them, they led 16-12 at the time (58 minutes gone), they had home ground advantage (just like the Tas legal system do), my friends regard me as an expert footie tipster and Betfair favoured them at the time. Not unexpected.

  8. Felix Greenwood says:

    Peter Gill,
    I don’t think that you read my comment correctly. Maxwell Jones’ opinion wasn’t during Sue’s trial but during Sue’s right-to-appeal application in 2017.

    Regarding experiments, I found an scientific article that was published a month ago in a Forensic Science journal. You can look it up to notice that the loci of high molecular weight decay quickly. This is the link

    Whole human blood DNA degradation associated with artificial ultraviolet and solar radiations as a function of exposure time

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0379073820305363?dgcid=rss_sd_all

  9. Lola Moth says:

    Jennifer, I see that quote (She doesn’t know nothing) as meaning that Meaghan doesn’t realise the enormity of what she would be saying if they could get her to say it.

    Meaghan originally said she was not on the yacht. This was the safest thing for her to say and surprisingly the police left her alone afterwards even when dna evidence placed her there. She had no reason to change her story unless she was offered either a significant reward for doing so, or if she had been lying all along to protect herself and her conscience finally got the better of her. It may be that maturity and the passage of time afforded her a different view of her moral obligations so she decided to do the right thing which would help Sue and assuage her own feelings of guilt.

    We can see from the 60minutes interview and in court that Meaghan was hugely distressed in telling her story of what happened on the yacht. Monetary rewards mean nothing when you just want to remove yourself from a stressful situation so I can imagine Meaghan just walking out and deciding she didn’t want to go through with it anymore if it was only about money. She wouldn’t keep going back to the story of being on the yacht and distressing herself about it if it was about monetising the story because she could make more money telling it once to the media than over and over again to the court. However, if it was her conscience that made her speak then it makes sense for her bravery slips now and then forcing her to run and hide when she feels in danger.

    Meaghan only goes from denying being there at all, which is easy to say and stick to, and stating her somewhat vague recollections of what she saw on the yacht. She doesn’t find new memories coming to her to clarify her testimony and bolster the defense position. No new information comes from her that could shed light on what happened. If she was in it for money she would have made her story stronger and pushed it harder. Meaghan would have realised long ago that you can’t put a price on your mental health so she wouldn’t contemplate going through all that stress and mental anguish again just for some cash. If someone is paying for her testimony then that someone isn’t getting their moneys worth.

    • JENNIFER KLINE says:

      Lola,

      I will reply  about one significant issue that your overlooked.

      You said that

      “She had no reason to change her story unless she was offered either a significant reward for doing so, or if she had been lying all along to protect herself and her conscience finally got the better of her.”

      Aren’t you ignoring the third reason, the only reason she mentioned in Court in 2017 and then again last week in the Court: threats to her personal safety – the “put you in the boot” type of threats; the hounding. She even stated that some people got paid to pressure her. The following sentence is from a news article

      “She said she believed that some of the people who had put her under pressure were being paid to do so.”

      https://www.themercury.com.au/truecrimeaustralia/police-courts/day-2-meaghan-vass-expected-to-return-to-witness-box-after-bombshell-testimony-yesterday/news-story/c573c1bcc7217af1166ffad760be42b1

      • Lola Moth says:

        Jennifer and Felix, I have no doubt that Meaghan has been threatened repeatedly about giving testimony to the court, to the police, and to the media. In another comment I have made here (but that cannot be published yet because of suppression orders) I have suggested what the nature of these threats may be and who could have made them. I just think that the original reason for her changing her story was not because of threats but because she wanted to do the right thing after years of remaining silent. I think the threats came after she changed her story for the first time when certain people realised they weren’t as safe as they had previously thought. I haven’t overlooked the very real threats that Meaghan would have been subject to, I just can’t comment on their nature at the present time.

        • JENNIFER KLINE says:

          Your latest comment has been withheld from publication. This could be due to one of a number of criteria, including the regurgitating of matters previously addressed/debated at length, lack of relevance, ignorance of the key facts of the case, denigration of others/disrespectful commentary, distractions or attempted disruptions and ‘remote psychoanalysis’ of persons involved in the case in question. No correspondence will be entered into.

      • Peter Gill says:

        Jennifer – you wrote that Meaghan stated that some people got paid to pressure her. Of course that’s true – it goes without saying that prosecutors are not volunteers.

    • Felix Greenwood says:

      Lola Mother, I am interested in knowing why your opinions disregard those parts of Meaghan’s testimony that are detrimental to the defence case. In particular, why are you disregarding her testimony that she was threatened by at least one of her former associates?

      If you google the following key words “put in boot meaghan vass” you will come across a number of websites that mention the threat to Meaghan. For example, in 2017 as a defence witness, Meaghan said:

      “I had been made to sign that statement out of fear,” she said.

      “I was threatened to be put in the boot of a car.”

      https://www.smh.com.au/national/death-on-the-derwent-trio-came-out-of-nowhere-on-a-dinghy-man-tells-court-20171030-gzavnp.html

      Last week, she added that some people got paid to influence her.

      Some people who are aware of that threat (including Colin) have downplayed the significance of that threat. But, they aren’t Meaghan nor do they experience that threat in the same way that she did then and probably still does now.

    • JENNIFER KLINE says:

      Your latest comment has been withheld from publication. This could be due to one of a number of criteria, including the regurgitating of matters previously addressed/debated at length, lack of relevance, ignorance of the key facts of the case, denigration of others/disrespectful commentary, distractions or attempted disruptions and ‘remote psychoanalysis’ of persons involved in the case in question. No correspondence will be entered into.

    • Pauline Chalmers says:

      Your latest comment has been withheld from publication. This could be due to one of a number of criteria, including the regurgitating of matters previously addressed/debated at length, lack of relevance, ignorance of the key facts of the case, denigration of others/disrespectful commentary, distractions or attempted disruptions and ‘remote psychoanalysis’ of persons involved in the case in question. No correspondence will be entered into.

  10. owen allen says:

    I would like to comment re Rick Mather who mentioned my name.
    Thanks Rick. Never let a chance go by, the Aussie song.
    I am so staunch, ( I think I am, to the best of “my” ability anyway,) because I am a victim of Tasmania; therefore I know how it operates.
    In court against magistrates, judges with and without legal representation. A victim of police lies and intimidation and assault.
    Yet I went to Tasmania a family man, a clean skin and was destroyed for speaking out.
    Somebody has to do it. So I am in this fight for justice and a Royal Commission Tasmania and Royal Commission Tasmania Police.

  11. Tom Cairns says:

    At least it is gratifying to see the deluge of protest that is gathering and so many voices wanting to be heard. Apathy is always our worst enemy so keep it up folks with one thought in mind, those responsible for this debacle know full well that they have been wrong from the start and have now reduced the whole issue to a local footy game where all that matters is to be the winning side never mind who gets hurt.
    As for the qualified lawyer who took advantage of Meaghan Vass, he should remember that every male of the species comes into this world with certain specific attachments which are taken to indicate that he will grow up to be a man one day, but as we can see, it can’t be taken for granted.

  12. Jerry Fitzsimmons says:

    As I have similarly commented on previously, Andrew, “wrongful convictions” has such a varied and interested readership, some possibly experts themselves, others who have had experiences to share and enlighten those of us who are commenting from a ‘safe’ place.
    Each comment coming from the heart otherwise why bother.
    However no one can fully know the vagaries of legal outcomes, enough to know that is, how this appeal will be played out. So I guess we are all fallible until those three learned people hand down their decision, no matter what we want believe.
    Great debates though on points of trust and mistrust and even greater admissions on why.
    Imagine all of us being together in the same room and listening to each other’s points of view. How different that may be just by being guided from the understanding and influences we would have on each other.
    Otherwise, many who would be reading our comments here, or choosing not to comment themselves, will no doubt be influenced, according to their own experiences, by our written word.
    So, while waiting for this decision to be handed down I will spend a little time being reminded by the words of another Edinburgh born woman, Shirley Manson, of just how life itself can often pan out.
    A stunning reminder that life’s memorable decision making moments in some of her great songs draw such poignant parallels with this case.

  13. Helen van Ry says:

    The DPP s inarticulate delivery on the final day of the appeal was painful and tortuous to listen to as opposed to the interstate defence team. How did this man qualify for the DPP job.

  14. Pauline Chalmers says:

    Among the medley of people who surrounded Bob Chappell on the night of his disappearance Stephen John Gleeson is one person who has demonstrably revealed a capacity for extreme violence which he revealed in a Sandy Bay unit. While engaging in a drinking session with Christopher Goss a dispute arose during their conversation and Mr Goss lunged toward Mr Gleeson saying “I’m going to kill you”. This created a reaction in Mr Gleeson who hit him in the face three times with the glass Stein he was holding. They struggled to the ground and rolled toward the fireplace where Gleeson took hold of an antique press iron and struck Mr Goss in the back of the head three times. Then, while Goss was prostate on the ground Gleeson struck him three more times. The injury was so severe brain matter was evident.
    In court Judge Porter accepted the first three blows Gleeson struck with the iron were in self-defence but he said by the time Gleeson delivered the final three blows to his head the danger was over and the attack had been vengeful. His emotions were clearly running high but it ought to have been obvious when Mr Goss was no longer a threat and couldn’t defend himself. These actions by Gleeson took place despite a current restraint order being in place forbidding him from contacting his drinking buddy Mr Goss.
    We know a lack of Vitamin B1 is common in people who have alcohol use disorder. This deficiency causes brain damage in lower parts of the brain called the thalamus and the hypothalamus. It is known as Werncke-Korsakoff syndrome and it results in permanent damage to areas of the brain involved with memory. Damage can also occur in a foetal brain exposed to alcohol in utero and the question arose this week in the Supreme Court in Hobart to the emotional and memory related disorders evidenced in possible suspects to Bob Chappell’s murder. Does anything anyone has said in court bear weight in this case as Sue Neill Fraser was also treated with Valium after she received the news Bob had disappeared. This drug had a temporary effect on her memory while the alcohol related damage to the brains of the other individuals has caused permanent damage to their minds so they confabulate to make sense of their experiences which they will NEVER be able to accurately relay to any court under cross examination. This does NOT hold true to Sue once the drug has left her system.

    • Felix Greenwood says:

      Not sure that Valium is relevant given that Sue took valium at around midday of 27th. This would not have affected the registration of the afternoon-evening before into her memory. She had plenty of time between then and May to remember her activities on the last day she saw Bob on the yacht.

  15. Pauline Chalmers says:

    Meaghan Vass has foetal alcohol spectrum disorder FASD – she confabulate’s – it’s well overdue time for an expert like Dr Valerie McGinn to assess and diagnose the extent of her brain damage and capacity to comprehend any question asked of her

    • Felix Greenwood says:

      That might be so but she is functioning sufficiently to be able to have a memory of being on any yacht in her life. Her 2012 affidavit was presented to her in which she stated never being on Four Winds. She affirmed the accuracy of that 2012 affidavit. She told the court the statutory declaration was true and she had never been on a yacht.

      I think that because of her 2017 court testimony that the defence team should have for this appeal had the witness assessed by a psychiatrist to determine whether she was mentally fit to be a witness.

      • Felix Greenwood says:

        In that 2012 affidavit, Meaghan also stated that she was never in Sandy Bay. All the defence had to do to discredit that 2012 affidavit was to find a credible witness who could place Meaghan in Sandy Bay prior to 2012 and in particular in January 2009. There was an attempt to use Gleason in 2017 to link Meaghan to the night of murder next to the rowing shed but he admitted lying about it in order to help Sue.

        • Andy says:

          Why do you think he changed his mind? Maybe after two visits from tas pol?

          • Felix Greenwood says:

            Gleeson pleaded guilty, I read the sentencing remarks. There is more to it than what you think. Here is a small portion from the sentencing of Gleeson:

            “On 13 September 2016 Ms Etter took an affidavit from you in which you confirmed your earlier statements that you were intoxicated on the night of 26 January 2009, and slept in your car on your own. You did not state that you had seen any people that night, or that anyone was in the car with you.

            On 8 May 2017 Mr Thompson took a second affidavit from you, although at the time he had been told by Ms Etter he was not authorised by her to work on the Neill-Fraser case. In your 8 May 2017 affidavit, you said, for the first time, that on 26 January 2009 you were woken up by someone tapping on the window of your car ..”

            Gleeson thus provided a statement to Sue’s then lawyer in September 2016 in which he said basically the same thing as he told the cops in 2009. But after a number of visits by Colin and another lawyer, Gleeson offers a new version of events. Soon after that, Barbara Etter quit the legal team.

            Similarly, Meaghan offered a new version of events after Colin got involved. The DPP accused Colin of manufacturing a statement for Meaghan.

        • Peter Gill says:

          Felix – Didn’t Detective Sinnitt’s notebook include the info that Meaghan Vass’s name was on the register of a halfway (or similar) house at Mt Nelson or Sandy Bay as spending the night of 26 January 2009 there? Wasn’t the discovery by the defence of that info the reason the defence wanted to recall Meaghan at Sue’s trial? So the evidence exists. In passing, that info should have been revealed to the defence before then.

          • Felix Greenwood says:

            Peter Gill, I read the Trial Transcript and the 2012 Appeal Court decision.

            The issue of refusing to recall Meaghan was a ground of appeal in Sue’s first appeal. That issue was subsequently the only appeal ground to the High Court. The High Court refused to hear it.

          • Emma Yukov says:

            Peter, if you read other posts about Maxwell’s opinion the reference is to his 2017 opinion when he was cross-examined by the current DPP (Mr Coates).

          • Felix Greenwood says:

            None of the halfway houses or other places that Meaghan mentioned in 2010 are in Sandy Bay.

            The issue about the learned trial Judge did not approving the recall of Meaghan was one of the grounds of the 1st appeal. It was rejected. The 2012 Appeal Court decision is available online. That ground of appeal was the only ground of appeal that was appealed to the High Court. The High Court refused to hear the appeal.

            It would help our communication if you were to do some background online research before replying.

          • andrew says:

            The High Court refused to hear the appeal – but anyone reading the transcript will see how wrong the High Court was, with respect. Here is just a small extract from DPP Tim Ellis arguing that the appeal should be refused…Ellis: “The trial judge says what difference will it make to know that this person to whom one swab of DNA can be traced – what difference does it make to know where she was on that evening? What difference does it make when she is a homeless young person with none of the specialised knowledge exhibited by the murderer of Mr Chappell? No connection with Mr Chappell; no means to operate the tender that seems to have gone out to the yacht and back again in order either for him to be murdered or his body to be disposed; indeed, nothing else to connect her or make her a remotely possible suspect except for the presence of a swab of DNA, which is, contrary to what my learned friend has tried to say, no more explicable by her being on the yacht at any time than being off it.’
            The High Court judges took just 3 minutes to return with their decision – to refuse leave. Do we feel confident in our criminal justice system?

      • Pauline Chalmers says:

        Meaghan Vass is full of “false denial” symptomatic of FASD. She is always taken at face value when she confabulates and it is time the courts paid attention to the truthfulness of her DNA. And the truthfulness of the hard evidence Stephen John Gleeson has presented when he “flipped out” and bashed a man’s brain matter out. Is this what he did to Bob Chappell? Did he “flip out” inside the Four Winds when Bob advanced toward him telling him to get off his boat. I think they were both into robbing his boat together with other companions who were able to pull Bob out of the cabin through the hatch, weight his body and cast it into the ocean.

        • Felix Greenwood says:

          If there were two men why would they remove the body via the skylite hatch rather than simply carry it out via the companion way which would have been faster and easier?

          • JENNIFER KLINE says:

            Colin McLaren never bothered to explain why in his theory of two men, who would have had sufficient combined strength to carry out Bob’s 65 Kg body via the companionway, would chose the harder route to remove the body manually. The harder route for manual lifting is the skylite hatch.

            As someone posted earlier, the crime scene evidence presented at the trial was that a winch on the front mast that is in close proximity to the skylite hatch was rigged with a winch handle and rope. The rope from the winch ran all the way to the skylite hatch and was dangling down the hatch. Colin totally ignored this winch.

          • Felix Greenwood says:

            Both Colin McLaren and Charlie Bezzina ignored the only physical evidence on Four Winds (the rigged winch on the front mast) that indicates that it is more likely that there was only one person who removed Bob’s 65 kg body (with the assistance of that winch) rather than there being two or more men who wouldn’t have had a need to use a winch. I think that is the reason why both ex-detectives didn’t say anything at all about that particular winch.

            If Colin is reading this blog then it would be nice if he were to explain why he preffered the option of two or more men but ignored the possibility of there being only one person who removed the body via the same skyline hatch but with the aid of the mentioned rigged winch.

          • aldo milin says:

            You’ve made a valid point which many here have failed to consider. My view is that Vass was onboard the yacht with her drinking buddies at some stage while it was moored however i consider that that occurred prior to when Chappell was onboard on the night he went missing. I have also considered her an unreliable witness which is apparent due to her flip-flopping throughout.

        • Felix Greenwood says:

          Pauline, rather than speculating about who did it why don’t you look at the physical and forensic evidence?

          There is no forensic evidence linking any of the named men to the yacht or its dinghy.

          A winch on the front mast was rigged by someone after Sue left the boat in the afternoon of the Australia Day. This alone suggests that it is unlikely that Bob’s body was removed manually by two men in the manner that was proposed by Colin McLaren. Who would have a need to rigg a winch in order to remove a 65 kg body? Bob’s weight might be too much for an average male (and definitely for Sue) to remove manually without a winch but two men don’t need a winch.

          Based on the above points, I argue that your theory is highly unlikely.

          • Felix Greenwood says:

            Aldo Millin, The 2017 opinion of Maxwell Jones (defence forensic expert), under cross-examination, was that the biological substance containing Meaghan’s DNA wasn’t deposited more than 2 days prior to the swabb being taken on 30th. His analysis of the digital profile of the DNA that was provided to him by the Tasmanian forensics department is that it was of ‘high quality.’ He didn’t think that the DNA would have been of such high quality had the biological substance been deposited more than 2 days before it was sampled on 30th.

            Thus, the defence forensic science expert opinion disagrees with Meaghan’s 60 Minutes story. It also disagrees with your opinion of the biological substance being deposited prior to the night of Bob’s disappearance.

            Based on my own experience of being badly sunburnt several years ago after about 2 hours of sunbathing during a summer’s day when the UV index was high I think that uv radiation damages DNA quickly. I read that UV radiation from the sun breaks chemical bonds between nucleotides and thus degrades the quality of DNA. The substance on Four Winds that had Meaghan’s DNA was on an external surface that was exposed to the weathering effects, including the sun’s heat and UV radiation.

          • Peter Gill says:

            This is a reply to Felix’s comment about Maxwell Jones’ evidence about DNA degradation …. two days max, not four days for the sample to remain of high quality, he suggested. I emailed two of the world’s very top DNA experts overseas and got quick replies. I didn’t ask permission to quote them here so I won’t. They were very hesitant to assign a time value in days. One suggested an experiment to find out if what Jones said might be true or not.

            It seems that Felix has pointed out yet another example of Junk Science at the Sue Neill Fraser trial and yet another example of a witness under cross-examination at that trial saying things that are not likely to be true and are not backed by existing scientific knowledge. A good example of what cross-examination can do to a witness, eliciting answers that are inappropriate.

            Thank you Felix for pointing out more of the errors made by the prosecution in this case.

  16. Jerry Fitzsimmons says:

    My apologies Andrea, if you are, as has been pointed out, ’Andy’. I wrongfully assumed you were a ‘he’. Only to happy to stand corrected on this, any time👍

  17. Jerry Fitzsimmons says:

    Reasons why this blog is so good is that takes on board everyone’s comments, from all sides. Thank you for that Andrew.
    Rick, your comments are shared by many, I feel. You intrigue me with your commentary that we should “read up before you speak up”. Andy provided an explanation about his comment, which I am thankful for.
    So come on Rick, let’s call a spade a shovel and can you also explain to those of us who HAVE read up, which facts you are referring to “supporting Meaghan’s version” and can you explain to me your version of Meaghan’s DNA being on the yacht?
    Oh and by the way, I trust YOU have offered Meaghan the well being/welfare advice she sounds like she could benefit from?

    • Felix Greenwood says:

      Jerry, based on the evidence of the defence forensic scientist from 2017 (on which Mr Coates depended after Mr Richter dropped Meaghan’s testimony) it doesn’t seem to matter how Meaghan’s DNA got onboard because the DNA was of such a high quality that the defence forensic expert did not think that it would have retained such a high quality for more than two days after it was deposited on an deck of the boat that was exposed to weathering effects. The DNA was swabbed on the 30th. Thus it is forensic science that disagrees with Meaghan’s 60 Minutes story simply on the basis of the high quality of the DNA that was obtained from a swab that was taken on 30th. The 3 Appeal Court judges would have the relevant forensic science report. Since the report is from the defence forensic scientist you can argue that the defence’s own expert witness has blown apart the defence case.

      • Lola Moth says:

        Felix, expert witnesses who are called to give their opinion on evidence presented to the court are not infallible. They are encouraged to come to a certain conclusion and if they don’t they aren’t called by the people paying them for their opinion. They often get things wrong and they are usually at odds with the expert witnesses from the other side.

        I have had an expert witness suggest in court that things I saw with my own eyes could not have happened. I would trust someone who was there over an expert witness who was only engaged to give a certain opinion to the court, and I’m sure judges also take their testimony as being an opinion, not the gospel truth.

        • JENNIFER KLINE says:

          Hi Lola, You express yourself in a very logical  way.

          In criminal trials, it isn’t unusual for the opposing sides to have their own epert witnesses who will disagree and offer opinions that contradict the opinion of the other side. What you appear not to have realised the significance of in Felix’s comment is that it was the defence’s own forensic expert who in 2017, under cross-examination by the DPP, stated that the biological sample was 1-2 days old. That certainly doesn’t look good for the defence case, does it?

          The DPP then capitalised on that 2017 opinion to argue that since the DNA swab was taken on the 30th that therefore the DNA was deposited close to the time of the swab rather than on the night of murder. I would love to know more about why the defence forensic expert thought that the biological sample was deposited no more than two days prior to the DNA being swabbed.

          • Felix Greenwood says:

            I submitted the following earlier today but it got overlooked. It is my personal opinion after reading about uv radiation several years ago when I had a bad sunburn.

            I am not a scientist to question the opinion of the defence forensic expert. But I do have experience of getting sunburned after sunbathing for couple or so hours during summer. Based on what I read elsewhere, it is the UV radiation from the sun that does the damage to DNA   by breaking the chemical bonds between nucleotides. This degrades the quality of the DNA. If I can get sunburned after 2 hours of sunbathing imagine what would happen to a DNA deposit on the deck of a boat when it is exposed for 3 days.

  18. Jillian says:

    I can’t read the many comments and stay calm.
    As a Tasmanian living here, I am appalled that the original sub standard Judges are in charge of this farce.
    As for Vass, I can’t feel sympathy for her, after so many years. Crocodile tears, she played all.
    And dear Susan, how sad for her and her entire family, where a witness does not have a conscience AT ALL!!!
    There is no way, Susan should have had her appeal held in THIS ANTIQUAITED STATE!!!
    After all, she was found guilty with NO EVIDENCE WHAT SO EVER.
    If it happened to one of the jury, they would be jumping up and down.
    I am exactly Susan’s age and my heart is broken for her.
    I believe her appeal will be rejected, thanks to the Tasmanians in charge.
    All of us have been let down by the lack of a judicial system!
    My heart goes out to you Susan, this injustice blows my mind and affects my severe depression.
    Bloody rotten to the core. 😭😭😭

    • Helen Adkins says:

      Thank you Jillian. Since coming back from Brisbane seven years ago I have never seen so many insular and backward people here and judgemental deficits. Has anyone ever read the story of Natalie Pearn of March 2013 when one DPP Timothy Ellis drove on the Midlands Highway for over 1.5 km on the wrong side. Natalie didn’t stand a chance – her injuries were horrific and her car was concertinaed. She died well before an ambulance came. The other driver, none other than the Director of Public Prosecutions a heavy set obese driver, survived less scathed with an injured leg. He was suspended for two years from his position of DPP on full pay $430,000 per annum to defend the charge. Where had he been prior to that drive back to Hobart Of course the RBT proved negative. Interesting.

  19. Chris says:

    Sue should find a new prison hobby, the evidence presented in neither ‘fresh or compelling’.

  20. Jerry Fitzsimmons says:

    Andy, I believe you mean well and I am not criticising your comment but, “let’s wait and see what happens” is what many others may think, like yourself.
    With great respect “let’s wait and see what happens” is often followed with “Christ, wish I had done something”. I appeal to anyone who has inroads to Meaghan’s circle to simply just approach her and ask is she okay. I for one will be contacting her lawyer to ask him to pass on a message to her. This young woman has been very brave, she has a life to get on with and who knows, maybe she will feel capable of trusting people again because, right now she would most likely be in a dark place and believing that no one gives a shit.

    • andrew says:

      I can confirm that as of this afternoon, Meaghan is ok and has support from Andy and a couple of others.

      • Rick Mather says:

        Evidence that meaghan was making it up but lost the script provided by her coercers, is that two of her would be accomplices, forming part of the gang of drunken teenagers were aged 18 and 20 odd at the time of the murder.

        Well it does not take much case research to learn that Steven gleeson was 49 not 18 in 2009. Paul wrote was 52 at the same time. Both gave evidence in the application hearing and were not called by the defence as the new suspects.

        (edited for legal reasons)

        Read up before you speak up. There are a lot of facts supporting meagans version that she wasn’t there. Not that that would interest many on this blog.

      • Keith says:

        Does any one know if it was Damien or Devine who got to Vass after day one? Something changed overnight and it couldn’t have been the suppression issue since the names were already out there – certainly in Robin’s book.
        And by the way, how bad was Coates in asserting that Vass didn’t have the knowledge to disable the boat? Of course she didn’t, who said she did? It was the thugs who killed Bob you idiot! Disingenuous, mischievous and misleading. I hope the local judges who report to Blow are not afraid to throw him under the bus. A retrial at the minimum.

        • andrew says:

          Understandable assumption, but nobody ‘got’ to Meaghan. And yes, it was the failure to secure the suppression order as promised her that did much of the emotional damage. There will be more on all this a little later …

          • Keith says:

            I look forward the explanation outlining who promised suppression and who failed to deliver on it.

    • Andy says:

      Lets wait and see what happens means the outcome of sues appeal? And i am close to megz and can confirm that she is ok.

      • Felix Greenwood says:

        Keith,

        ” I ook forward the explanation outlining who promised suppression and who failed to deliver on it.”

        According to the person who accompanied Meaghan, it was Meaghan’s lawyer who told Meaghan that he will ask for the suppression but the names were published before he did anything about it. Read on this blog what Andy posted.

        • Felix Greenwood says:

          Keith,

          You have to realise that ‘Andy’ sometimes posts under ‘Andrea’. Her comment was on

          Meaghan Vass evidence ‘unreliable’, focus on DNA | Wrongful Convictions Report
          https://wrongfulconvictionsreport.org/2021/03/02/meaghan-vass-evidence-unreliable-focus-on-dna/

          The comment was:

          “Firstly stuart wright the lawyer for meaghan was the one who said he can 100% guarantee that the names or àny info from the affadavit etc would be suppressed. Then he didnt do it and said that hed arranged it for day two. Well but late for that. Then we were ten mins late as car had issues yet called him and he still told megs hed put a warrant out for he arrest if she didnt show. We were already in a taxi.”

          You should have known about the above because it was a reply to you.

  21. John Ferris says:

    Hercule Poirot would have solved this case without DNA and other modern forensic tools ! Sue would be free simply because of the impossibilities Poirot would have presented. I am an old yachtie and can tell you that it would be impossible for a girl like Sue to lift and/or winch a dead man’s body up through a narrow companionway to deck level, a considerable height on a yacht of that size, then lower it into a dinghy, get it to shore and then hide or dispose of the body and dinghy – never to be seen again ! All done solo ! Even a couple of muscular males would have trouble. Get real.

    • andrew says:

      Perhaps if the jury had been given a chance to go and view the yacht, they might have come to the same conclusion. The court decided that was not necessary……hmmmmm

    • Felix Greenwood says:

      John Ferris,
      You certainly have a relevant point to make. However, the prosecution case was that Sue used a winch but they did not establish exactly which winch and how it may have been done exactly. I read that that the only winch that had a winch handle in it was on the front mast rather than the rear mast. That winch was in close proximity to the very skylite hatch that Colin McLaren focused his attention on. The rope from that winch is the same rope that was found dangling down that skylite hatch. That winch is actually mentioned in Robin Bowles’ book.

      Someone actually addressed your comment on twitter. You might be interested in looking it up because it explains how a rather physically weak person (a 10 year old) may have removed a 65 kg body had someone showed that child how to do it.

    • Helen Adkins says:

      Thank you John Your comment has been the most intelligent yet. A friend of our family is a builder, surfer, kite surfer and free diver having travelled to the Kimberleys where he has also built a house on a cattle station. Our friend commented that there is no way he could ever lift or winch a dead body through a narrow hatchway to the deck level as Sue was stated to have done so
      My late uncle (no names) was Attorney-General and also held the portfolios of Minister for Police and Minister for Ethnic Affairs and chose, while Minister for Police, to select a Commissioner of Police from ACT. I wonder why!!!!!

      • john ferris says:

        Anything is possible I guess but hoisting a dead weight from down below to deck level by someone with Sue’s physique and experience, unassisted, undetected, seems highly improbable to me. Winches attached to masts are halyard winches, not nearly as powerful as sheet winches. They often use wire, not rope, to avoid stretch and minimise sagging of the sail’s luff. The fact that a winch handle was fitted to one means nothing ! Most yacht winches have removable, inter-changeable handles. Four Winds would have needed a powerful mainsheet winch and if rigged to a mainsheet system with say a 4:1 mechanical advantage, it could do the job. A picture of the boat I recall shows the mainsheet block(s) attached to the boom almost directly above the companionway. Thanks for your compliments on my thoughts Helen ! All we can do now is hope and pray.

        • andrew says:

          Yes, good and valid…but please, no more comments about winches (or fire extinguishers) which were speculative elements of the prosecution. We’ve moved well beyond showing that there was no evidence for the Crown’s speculation about how Sue Neill-Fraser murdered Bob Chappell. Talking about those hypothetical aspects is irrelevant and just a waste of time. Decisions on the latest appeal is pending. Meantime, it is instructive to have a look at what went wrong with the first appeal:
          https://wrongfulconvictionsreport.org/2019/04/07/sue-neill-frasers-first-appeal-what-went-wrong/

          • JENNIFER KLINE says:

            Your latest comment has been withheld from publication. This could be due to one of a number of criteria, including the regurgitating of matters previously addressed/debated at length, lack of relevance, ignorance of the key facts of the case, denigration of others/disrespectful commentary, distractions or attempted disruptions and ‘remote psychoanalysis’ of persons involved in the case in question. No correspondence will be entered into.

  22. Jerry Fitzsimmons says:

    Just been listening to an ABC news cast on the no longer extinction of the “devil” in Tasmania.
    First thing that crossed my mind was, “ Wow, more about the Supreme Court Appeal this week in Hobart!!!

  23. John Biggs says:

    Coates’s cross examination was relentless cruel and clearly intended to break Ms Vass down until she agreed with everything put to her. He knew she would crumble like that whereas Richter did not. I also think that had she been on witness protection over Days 1 and 2, the outcome would have been very different. As it is the fact remains that he Day 1 evidence was an example of an alternative hypothesis, which renders the original conviction on circumstantial evidence invalid.

    I was surprised that Day 1 Vass said under oath that she was on the boat and on Day 2 still under oath said that she wasn’t. One or other of those statements is perjury, a criminal offence.

    I also think Richter was over-confident in hauling back the evidence on luminol and the loading of the dinghy with a dead body thus pinning everything on Vass: that was rash but I imagine he didn’t know how risky that was whereas Coates did and used her vulnerability. Let’s just keep on hoping.

  24. Peter Leslie Martin says:

    The suspense is killing me and so are the tabloids for their lack of interest in the most important case in Tasmania’s history.

  25. William Elliot says:

    Hi Robert i am totally disgusted bu the dpp he has no humanity or sensitivity and should be held to account as his vicious way of questioning undermined Megans testimony he knew she was vulnerable and sensitive and played on it which shows two things he doesnt knoe what the words justice and humanity mean and the latter he is totally lacking and devoid of and ultimately by his actions has effectively stopped the truth coming out which is supposed to be his objective aim this man is a total failure probably not a great childhood and may have had parents who were hard on him and if his mother was really hard on him in his formative years he sees any female as a threat so he is exra hard on females in court which would answer his behaviour though im not saying this is the case it would fit with his appaling behaviour and the juges should have chadtised him and ordered it be stricken from the record of court recorder. I have been fighting for Sue as she is a friend and always will be and never give uup till she correctly freed from illegal arrest, and imprisonment i will further be writing to HM The Queen who i have informed awhile back of Sues plight. HM will not take lightly to what i tell her as there has been police corruption evidence in initial trial to entrap notably a knife alledgedly used but having read about police actions there i have bery strong suspicions in the original trial that both police and dpp probably intimated the jury members to such an extent that Sue was condemmed even before her first trial as police hadnt done their job correctly even now the pepetrators are free and at large why? To the end i will fight for Sue and not let this rest. Further i will try to evoke a section 72 which in Aussie law is for judges who have acted improperly or abused their position or misbehaved and find out who if any disciplines the dpp as for the police thats the Australian Federal police who will investigate upon complaint the Hobart police i will do this but i urge all justice minded Australians to do the same as every complaint has to be investigated on its merits but keep to facts otherwise they get away with what they may have done what we suspect. People of Australia i want you to get rid of Scott Morrison and not received a reply in Sues case not just letters but emails the hobart govenor and other officials including the chief justice no replies they obviously are impolite and no idea of ettiquette. I as Sues friend of many years and all justice minded Australians must kerp up the pressure to ensure justice and to ensure that nobody who is innocent ends up like Sue and the amount of innocents truky innocent ie unsafe convictions is mindblowing also ensure the rot in the judicial system in Hobart police and dpp also im told Victoria not much better but what Sues case highlights is the biggest misscarruage of justice and unless Australians unite on this there i sadly guarantee will be many other cases like Sues with similar outcomes so to ensure proper justice Aystealuabs must act now to prevent further misscarriages of justice. Someone please advise Sue that im writing to her soon. Thank you everybody for reading this and acting for justice tell Sue its Nigel and a belatwd happy Birthday to her.

    • andrew says:

      Thanks for your lengthy comment William, but could I urge you to please read your comments before posting to ensure you make corrections and make sentences with full stops. Correct writing leads to correct reading by those who want to know what you say.

  26. Keith says:

    I have just looked at the online edition of today’s Mercury and am astonished that this appeal doesn’t feature until p10 and there is not one letter to the editor! What is going on down there?
    I find it extraordinary that this is not front page news and that the Letters page is full of nothing else.

    • David says:

      The Mercury has a long and distinguished history of biased reporting on this case. I wouldn’t be surprised by this

  27. Jerry Fitzsimmons says:

    Some may say it is now in the hands of the gods, but I want to believe it’s in the hands of three intelligent people who will also have witnessed a woman crying out for help.
    The proceedings may be at a stalemate for now but unfortunately, this may not be the case for everyone.
    I sincerely hope that someone follows up with Meaghan Vass, if that is possible, if only to say “ are you okay”. I believe Sue would appreciate this as she would understand what they both have had to endure from those capable of such vitriol within the justice system.
    For those supporters who are avid readers, borrow or purchase a copy of “Witness” by Louise Milligan to get some understanding of a brutal cross examination.

  28. owen allen says:

    As much as I want to comment more, it is best left unsaid. Except that,

    JUSTICE WILL PREVAIL,
    I have the nod.

  29. Robin Bowles says:

    Good summary Andrew. The Appeal judges each have 6 Appeal books, each about 6cm thick, plus other extra material, so their decision may not be speedy. Here’s hoping it’s just and the judges can overlook all the DPP’s extraneous ‘re-trying’ of the historic trial material in his submissions today and concentrate on the very tightly focussed Appeal position regarding ‘fresh and compelling’ evidence, which Sue’s team presented. It was Sue’s birthday today and it was bitter sweet to be part of the sotto voce ‘choir’ in the court building bursting into song on cue to sing Happy Birthday as she was wheeled in.

    • Keith says:

      Having read your book on Falconio you might be able to clarify the difference between that case and this regarding DNA evidence. It was the DNA evidence that the police lead which finished up convictingMurdoch. Does DNA evidence not hold as much weight when it is used to disprove a case on appeal? If it as compelling to convict, then surely it is as compelling to acquit?

      • Felix Greenwood says:

        Keith,
        In the Murdoch case, the defence argued that the DNA on the back of Joanne’s t-shirt was secondary transfer. In the Susan Neill-Fraser case, it is the prosecution that is saying that it was either a secondary transfer or a direct transfer but most likely well after the murder when the boat was at Goodwood where Meaghan and Sam hung around at that time. Coates based his argument on the high quality of DNA which the defence forensic expert did’t think was deposited more than 2 days before the swab was taken on 30th.

  30. Robert Greenshields says:

    Without question, the relentless attack dog mode of the DPP cemented the culture of brutality that is obviously apparent within the, what seems only to be an incestuous culture of corruption, in Tasmanian policing and its judicial communities. The willing brutal psychological assault on Meaghan is relevant in that it confirms what is looked upon as admissible and acceptable among the decision making fraternity, that, sadly, is the venal police and their cohorts. The court room assault is evidence in itself that there is something terribly wrong among the processes enabled by the cowards, who close ranks to choreograph a decision.

  31. owen allen says:

    I would suggest Detectives from Mars or even Dodge City will be snooping the burbs.
    Detectives from far and wide will want to crack this case and support the crew, who have done an excellent job and Australians have to be very thankful we have such a brilliant and hard working crew of legal eagles. Fly High eagles, Truth Sets Us All Free.

  32. LizP says:

    Ah yes. The DPP will say anything in such appeals and argue all kinds of nonsense purely in the vitriolic vein of being the victor. Shades of the late Andrew Mallard’s tortuous journey to freedom, impeded by not only prosecution skullduggery but also by entrenched judicial conservatism.

    Let’s hope the COA eschew the deluded DNA secondary transfer/ breaking and entering submission.

  33. LB says:

    Can someone please explain? Is this the role of the DPP, acting as has been described, with an apparently dysfunctional/ unstable / unwell witness? How is this acceptable? Is he not an officer of the court, there to establish facts? I am confused. The DNA deposit was years ago described as “a red herring”, just how can this be accepted given the advice of forensic experts ? Hopefully three judges can see that there is clearly substantial doubt about this conviction, forget “reasonable” doubt! It is my view that this entire case is very, very sad and an ugly stain on the entire state of Tasmania.

    • Robert says:

      Yes it is the job of the DPP in this case. If you’re interested in the actual truth and justice, it’s the best way we have as humans to show that a person is making up a story. It’s science.

      Getting through a vigorous cross-examination when you’re making up a story, is an extremely difficult, almost impossible thing to do. People need to be pressured and they need to be able to recount parts of a story without contradiction no matter what order or pattern the questions are given in.

      A person who is recalling from true memories of an event will find that relatively easy and you won’t get contradictions. If you’re making up a story, even the most highly intelligent people will crack and tell the truth, or contradict themselves under a good cross-examination.

      It’s why we rely on that method and not lie detector tests, etc.. humans are imperfect liars and when we make up stories our memory isn’t organised to recall every small detail you’ve made up and it’s particularly hard to retell the events of the story when the order gets mixed up. Our memories of true events on the other hand, our brains work really well to organise.

      • andrew says:

        You make it sound oh so simple, really. All we need in the criminal justice system is a good, hard cross examination and bingo – we have the truth, justice and all is solved.

        • Phil Sidebottom says:

          Are you all serious. You are questioning the DPP trying to get to the truth when so many people have been asked and/or pressured to LIE for Sue. Have a look in your own backyard before you start on anyone else.
          And Owen Allen? ” Justice Will Prevail. I have the nod. “You’re saying you know the result? That would greatly question the integrity of the Judges if you did…………what are you saying exactly? Put up or shut up

          • andrew says:

            Nobody questions the DPP trying to get to the truth. Indeed, I for one encourage it.

          • Peter Gill says:

            Warning – very long comment

            Robert (who comments above) does not seem to have any idea of the latest science about how memory works. Like the courts in NSW, Tasmania and elsewhere, Robert makes false statements that have been shown by science in recent years to be debunked myths.

            The book I’m currently reading – Scatterbrain by the award-winning German neuroscientist Henning Beck – is one of the easy-to-read readily available sources, if Robert wants to update his knowledge so he can write something real instead of something that is nowadays known to be misinformation.

            Awareness of the cognitive flaws of human brains, especially in regards to memory, allows humans to excel. I mean – if you understand WHY it’s normal to forget where one’s keys are or to make the abundance of similar mistakes we make in our daily lives, you will do better in life. In my own case, this awareness is one of the main reasons that when I play the card game called bridge, I’m regarded as the best in Australia.

            The brain does not recall things perfectly. Have a look at research by Elizabeth Loftus, Karim Nader, Daniel Kahneman, Itiel Dror and many others, readily available by Google searching. The dark ages approach that Robert seems to believe is – or should be – a thing of the past.

            If we actually spend a little bit of time trying to understand readily available, easy to understand information about memory, then we can draw correct conclusions. Alas, the three judges in the Sue Neill Fraser might well, like the judges in last month’s Robert Xie and Kathleen Folbigg appeals in NSW, think they don’t have time to update their thinking. If so, they are more likely to make an incorrect decision, based on false outdated reasoning that is nowadays known to be a myth.

            Not all judges are out of touch. Most judges grew up in bygone eras, being taught information that is now known to be false. Some judges, such as retired Hon. Justice Peter McClellan, updated their thinking, becoming aware of cognitive biases.

            A decade ago McClellan, having corrected two miscarriages of justice in NSW (Wood and Gilham) wrote an important document – the decision of the Gordon Wood appeal. For a few years, this document took pride of place as the first thing you saw if you went to the website of the NSW Supreme Court. For a while, the document was compulsory reading for expert witnesses in NSW.

            Then the usual lethargy of the court system was allowed to prevail in NSW, Tasmania and elsewhere, with McClellan’s warnings about the dangers of misusing speculation, innuendo and misleading expert witnesses being ignored in cases like the Sue Neill Fraser appeals. Judges with outmoded ways of thinking drew incorrect conclusions in many cases.

            What happens to a Judge who – like McClellan – is prepared to update his knowledge, use his brain and not necessarily follow the traditional approach of maintaining the status quo at all costs? In McClellan’s case, he was promoted to run the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, where he did an outstanding job.

            Did Abu Ghraib work? Will Coates’s methods succeed? Or are we moving into a more enlightened society? We will find out.

          • Rick Mather says:

            Andrew encourages the truth…. I see.

            I doubt he has even read the trial transcript readily available on the Barbara Etter homepage. If he had he would know that his past post about the knife in the fake plastic evidence bag was defamatory and misleading. Promptly supported by Colin mclaren.. Friends perhaps????

            The only knife mentioned at the trial was entered into evidence on day 1 marked exhibit 2. I think sue cut the fruit cake with it. It’s in the transcript.

            Not only did Andrew miss that but so did one of Australia’s greatest ever detectives, a brother author to Andrew. An innocent oversight I am sure.

            I look forward to Andrews’ apology to Tim Ellis.. Or will he be naming his reliable source who was in the court so they can apologise?

            There should be a royal commission into the actions of some sections of the media in the Chappell murder case.

            Maybe Owen Allen could write another letter and get another nod…….

            Anyway us 18 year olds aren’t getting any younger so off to bed.

            Not expecting this to be posted so I guess more fuel for any future breach of media code of ethics complaint. Just like my last post… Never appeared.. Predictable.

          • andrew says:

            Your ‘last post’ never appeared because it was never received. It is not in the system. Repost it if you wish.

          • John Biggs says:

            The job of the DPP is not to get at the truth but to win the case. It’s our adversarial system, God damn it. The side with the best and/or most ruthless lawyer wins. The judicial method to get to the truth is the inquisitorial system, used in the Continent. Australian lawyer Evan Whitton was driven by the idea of replacing our adversarial system with the inquisitorial, wherein the Judge as it were chairs the proceedings , calling witnesses and experts as the need arises. Then the truth emerges. Trials are much shorter. expenses lower — which is exactly why our legal establishments won’t have a bar of it.

            The Sue Neill-Fraser cases are a perfect example of what is wrong with the adversarial system: it invites lies, bullying and corruption, and hence many miscarriages of justice.

          • owen allen says:

            (Edited) Thanks Phil.
            Justice Will Prevail.

            This whole case is evil.

        • Garry Stannus says:

          Evan Whitton (in an early foray onto the Tasmanian Times and quoting erstwhile Fleet-Streeter, Sol Chandler): “The oldest rule of journalism, and the most forgotten, is to tell the customers what is really going on. You do that by disclosing a new fact or a new pattern, or both. The pattern emerges when you put a lot of old facts into a strict chronology…”

      • Lola Moth says:

        Robert, have you ever been cross-examined in court for even a short time? Even being questioned on a subject you know intimately is difficult because the questioner is clueless as to what he should be asking so the questions are inane. If the questions make no sense they can’t be answered. You can be floundering to find the meaning of the question while trying to answer it at the same time and end up shaking your head and asking for the question to be repeated. Sometimes there are no questions, just statements with the final word spoken in a way that is questioning without being an actual question.

  34. Diane Kemp says:

    Right to the end the same deny, deny, deny mentality by Coates as his predecessor. So that is what Tasmania’s DPP is about – do not look at the truth but continue to cover each other’s back!!!
    Transfer of the DNA as described by DPP was clearly refuted by an expert forensic member of another State police service. I for one would take that information as evidence that the requirements of the Appeal have been met.
    Not sure how long before a decision is announced but hope these judges honestly look at what has been put before them.

  35. Lola Moth says:

    Now that Meaghan Vass can do no more harm or good to Sue she should at least privately tell Bob’s family the truth as far as she can remember. It can’t hurt her now to tell only them what happened. They have spent years hating a woman they used to love, probably for no reason.

    Giving them the truth may ease Meaghan’s own inner-torment slightly and it will definitely allow the family to sort through their emotions and feel more settled in their hearts.

    • Andy says:

      Lets wait and see what happens and it may be something she would do

      • JENNIFER KLINE says:

        I think that Bob’s son and daughters would be more interested in where their father’s body was dropped in water so that they can send a team of divers to find the remains. They can then bury the remains of their father. Who knows what other evidence might be found next to the remains? A wrench? A fire extinguisher? It might even offer clues to the identity of the killer. Had Meaghan been a part of the gang who boarded Four Winds then she would have a memory of a dead person being dropped into water or a dead person being next to her in the dinghy when the gang transported the body away from the yacht.

    • Jillian says:

      Totally agree, she is not a child !!!

    • Rick Mather says:

      Gee I hope the people meaghan named in court as forcing her to lie in court weren’t involved in getting her to do her 60 minutes interview. If they were then that would be so wrong, wouldn’t it?

      (comment edited for legal reasons)

      In fact out of all of the people who appear to have been concerned about meaghans welfare, has any one of them ever reported that to the police? Or a support service?? Or perhaps a member of meaghans family?? Or a witness support person?? Mmmmm, I hope so.

      So many questions. So few answers.

      • Andy says:

        My god…. report it to the police?
        You have to be joking.
        Like they care, if they help megz in any way they may have to start and take this seriously.
        She has been hounded by cops and other untowards the whole time. Her friend base is about five people she 100% trusts
        Who do u tell when the whole thing stinks of wrongdoing.
        Rick i invite you to tell me which people are good and which ones not in all this as if you think cops are out to serve and protect thats true. Serve and protect themselves

      • Felix Greenwood says:

        Report it to the police if you know anything about Meaghan being hounded to provide false testimony. It is the role of the police to investigate who intimidated the witness in a criminal appeal case. Meaghan is unlikely to be charged for perjury but the cops would be very interested to know who played a role in pressuring Meaghan since her previous court appearance in 2017.

        • Andy says:

          Why would the police offer any help. Anyway im not even going to go into it but if u think the police are all sunshine and light its a fairytale. She is shit scared of police and not because shes done things wrong, because shes always been told if sue gets out you go in.
          Also when this case was being investigated with fresh eyes by tas pol how come most involved were the same eyes as first time round. Are they going to say that they themselves got it wrong last time? No.

    • JENNIFER KLINE says:

      Lola, have you considered the harm that was done to Meaghan since late 2016 when certain individuals started to pressure her about something that she knew nothing about?

      Even Colin McLaren acknowledged (in a private conversation that was recorded on a video that he didn’t think was going to be ever revealed to the public or end up in the possession of TasPol) that “She doesn’t know nothing, but if we get her to say it … that’s massive”.

      This was reported during McLaren’s cross-examination by the DPP in February 2019.

      “On Wednesday, Mr McLaren was asked to confirm that in June 2016, he said if Ms Vass would agree that she had been on board “that’s compelling. F****ing compelling. She doesn’t know nothing, but if we get her to say it … that’s massive”.

      I got the above paragraph from this ABC news article

      https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-06/susan-neill-fraser-appeal-witness-accused-of-fabricating-eviden/10786034

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