Andrew L. Urban.
Our interview with Meaghan Vass, published yesterday, answers the question why she panicked. It doesn’t explain why the entire court abandoned its duty of care to this witness.
Sue Neill-Fraser’s is arguably the most famous but least trusted murder conviction in Tasmanian legal history; and her new appeal is now in the hands of the three judges. Surely it is important to have Meaghan Vass on the public record after how the hearing ended – with her testimony excluded from the grounds of appeal. Our interview canvasses why and how that happened. One lawyer let her down, another lawyer (the DPP) brought her down.
But no lawyer in the court – and no judge, either – acknowledged that her testimony on the Tuesday – conflicting with the day before – was being given under duress. Her confidence had been betrayed – by another lawyer, and she felt her safety was at risk.
Justice was not served that day.
Was it the truth that the Crown was seeking? Or to protect the conviction. I think most people know the answer. There in Hobart’s Supreme Court, the altar of justice one would think, the onus of proof was again flipped; Meaghan Vass’ evidence was required to prove Sue Neill-Fraser’s innocence. Just as it had been at trial, where in the absence of any primary evidence, Neill-Fraser was effectively required to prove her innocence. Justice was not served that day, either.
As a key witness – THE key witness – she has been at the centre of the case from the very beginning. She made mistakes, like at first denying she had been on Four Winds at the relevant time, when she was 16. More mistakes followed, like the prosecution treating her DNA at the crime scene ‘as a red herring’.
I have argued that the trial of Sue Neil-Fraser should never have gone ahead under the circumstances, until the DNA evidence at the crime scene had been properly dealt with. Threatening to derail the prosecution’s case against Sue Neill-Fraser, it was left on the shelf…
The focus on Sue Neill-Fraser as the murderer resulted in what is – in the opinion of legal academic Dr Bob Moles of Flinders University, eminent barristers of the stature of the recently deceased Chester Porter QC (March 15, 1926 – March 15, 2021) among others – a grave and fermenting miscarriage of justice. (Porter famously assisted the Chamberlain Royal Commission and was the author of The Conviction of the Innocent – How the Law Can Let Us Down (Random House, 2007.)
Some of the comments on yesterday’s interview:
Crime author Robin Bowles – Death on the Derwent (Scribe)
the hammering of Meaghan (apart from being very unedifying professionally) by the DPP caused her to say she had made her story up for 60 Minutes, just to get out of his clutches. I would be willing to say under oath that Meaghan’s story was told to me about two YEARS before 60 Minutes and I was told by two close friends of hers (at the time). I was also told of the circumstances under which she’d willingly revealed this information. There’s also the hairdresser (forget his name) who gave evidence he saw a girl resembling her coming up from the beach that night with two older men.
There’s also credible information available that she was persuaded to tell the truth believing she could swear an affidavit and she’d only ever have to answer questions on the things in that affidavit, but of course under our adversarial legal system the DPP could attempt to elicit much more VITAL info, such as how tall the men on the boat with her were, how old, eye colour, etc! It’s a wonder he didn’t ask what they had for breakfast!! Why hasnt Sam faced questions under oath? Why has it all been on Meaghan’s vulnerable shoulders??
so why is nothing done about Sam Devine and Stephen Gleeson, they have been named, their names have been published in the paper, yet we see nothing about them being questioned.
They did NOT board Four Winds on Australia Day nor any other day.
It’s actually not unreasonable to suggest that they were on board the yacht prior to the night Bob Chappell was killed, in the company of Vass who presumably was either intoxicated or drug affected which caused her to vomit on the deck. That being said i do not for a moment believe that they were guilty of Chappell’s murder regardless of what Vass claims…
You have introduced really important new information here. It is incumbent on you to explain on what evidence you rely to make your statement. Please go ahead: I am listening. Meaghan Vass is listening. The police and the DPP are listening. The courts may be listening (secretly). Those men are certainly listening. The media, local and mainland, are definitely listening. And of course the families of Bob Chappell and Sue Neill-Fraser are all listening. Go ahead …
UPDATE: no reply from Aldo so far