TasPol failed to disclose key evidence and ran a flawed investigation into the death of Bob Chappell: report

Andrew L. Urban.

A lengthy report that details flawed police investigation practices and failure to disclose evidence, has been sent to Tasmania’s Attorney General, Elise Archer, bringing to light information that has not been presented to court at either the trial of Sue Neill-Fraser or at subsequent appeal hearings. 

The report, viewed by wrongfulconvictionsreport under strict embargo, reveals (among other things) how investigators in Operation Ransack (the operational name for the Sue Neill-Fraser murder investigation) failed to follow up basic and obvious lines of inquiry about Meaghan Vass and her known associate Sam Devine, both prior to the Sue Neill-Fraser trial in 2010 and thereafter.

A detailed summary of the report will be published here after the embargo is lifted.

The joint authors are Sue Neill-Fraser’s former lawyer Barbara Etter APM and Canberra-based barrister Hugh Selby.


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27 Responses to TasPol failed to disclose key evidence and ran a flawed investigation into the death of Bob Chappell: report

  1. Jerry Fitzsimmons says:

    Andrew, Chrissy makes a point. She has spent time reading the Supreme Court file. She also says Sue Neill- Fraser lied.
    Give Chrissy the opportunity to inform us all of the many lies, each and every lie that she has read, and even if she wishes, to do that privately with you but, preferably with all of us.
    Sue is still in prison because people like Chrissy have voiced and associated with this disbelief in SNF.
    Tasmanians, in fact all of us, will get the chance to hear why Chrissy’s assertions give reason to determine why the evidence used to convict was without reasonable doubt.
    I look forward to Chrissy’s summations and in anticipation, thank her.

    • owen allen says:

      Verbal lie is not evidence.
      It is chronic Tasmania bullshit.
      Two Tasmanians have disputed absolute truth with me.
      One was a Tasmanian Detective Constable.
      The other finally gave in, and said, this is Tasmania.

    • Geraldine Allan says:

      Jerry watch this spot. Shortly, you may well read who lied & who didn’t. What you read in the very near future will not be unsupported claims. Rather it will expose the real liars.

  2. David Smith says:

    Governments Departments have become very arrogant and dishonest because they can – there is no one monitoring or auditing their work – All that had to happen here 10 years ago was Tasmania Police to say – we made a mistake – but they cannot say that – they cannot accept that they are wrong – if they now say they made a mistake – Many Police, Public Servants and Politicians will have to be charged with Perjury – or Misconduct in Office – and they will never allow that to happen. I have had personal dealings with Tasmania Police – Tasmania Government Departments – Integrity Commission – they are all Corrupt and Dishonest and they are in POWER – so nothing will change. If you want to change this you need to get Sitting Politicians to legislate Criminal Offences to deal with Corruption and Criminal Offences in Government – Then you commence a new Department of Toe Cutters – Investigators who will do their jobs and investigate and charge Public Servants – then Sentence them to Terms of Imprisonment – At the moment – any complaints just go around and around until most people give up – Charge those who are not doing their jobs or are Dishonest and or Corrupt.

    • owen allen says:

      Well done David. We love you.
      I hope you have evidence.
      We need evidence from every one,
      from every sphere.
      Now is the time to come out if you have been damaged, treated illegally by the powers.
      Now maybe your only opportunity to bring justice to your case or case you know.
      You have support.
      We are all in this together.
      Justice For Tasmania.
      I understand fear has controlled Tasmania to date.
      Fight the fear. We are protected.

    • owen allen says:

      I challenged police in Salamanca, no I shouldn’t have; but they called in reinforcements, a D, who smacked me in the head, after handcuffed and getting in the police car.
      Do I qualify for a HA patch?
      At a later date, whilst being harassed by detectives, I told them to fuck off and was arrested the next day or after.
      Does that qualify a Hells Angel commendation?

    • Helen Adkins-Sherston says:

      Hello David

      Very intelligent comments. I can now understand my friend, living in Brisbane will never come back here to live after losing a home and police coming in two days before Christmas and seizing his computer et al items. Do not wish to elaborate. Yes that kind of behaviour still exists today. My daughter a local came back after working for very professional companies both in Brisbane and Sydney and was a paralegal in Brisbane and has never seen so much disparity in the Government and bullying, here.
      My uncle the late Brian Miller was Attorney General and held the portfolio of Minister for Police and Minister for Ethnic Affairs and chose to select a Commissioner of Police from ACT. I wonder why? Taspol were not impressed. My youngest daughter a Univ of Sydney graduate will never come back here. Tassie is a beautiful place but has many skeletons. Have a laugh at the Tassie.memes under google.

  3. Chrissy says:

    You mean to say you think Tas Police have told lies throughout this!
    Who else told so many lies during the police investigation which brought about the murder charge! That’s right SNF.
    I do wish some would actually study the timeline of some findings which have occurred since the guilty conviction and the legal procedure. There have been appeals, some of which have been lost but we still await that outcome. If a retrial is granted then these new findings will be brought into question.
    As for a certain person named and losing her children that occurred well prior to her involvement in any way in this case. She went to prison for unrelated crimes and her children removed then. She then made a stupid mistake believing a fellow prisoner would help her by bribes of money.
    Wake up.

    • andrew says:

      Just to correct your first statement “You mean to say you think Tas Police have told lies throughout this!” – this mistakes me for the authors. Secondly, your reference to the “many lies” told by SNF, suggests that you need to inform yourself of the facts, beyond the desperate argument of the prosecution to make up for any real evidence. There is ample reference material to do so, from a documentary, a 6-part documentary series, several current affairs programs on commercial TV (incl. 60 Minutes), three books and many, many articles, not least over 100 on this blog. But you do make a good point: “If a retrial is granted then these new findings will be brought into question.” Let’s hope …

      • Chrissy says:

        I have read the complete Supreme Court file and the records of interviews with police – she lied – many times.
        Any documentaries are opinions of others and mostly to make money.
        Yes the world is flat and people are dropping off the edge!
        My opinion and if I and other repeat it enough some will believe it.
        You would know that the police and/or the government are not in a position to respond to any of these claims due to the case being closed and of course now ongoing.
        So many Tasmanians believe in her guilt.

        • andrew says:

          Yes, many Tasmanians believe in her guilt. Many do not. It isn’t a matter of belief but of evidence. You may find our recent overview of interest:

          • Garry Stannus says:

            And I for one, Andrew, don’t even have a belief as to Sue’s guilt or innocence.

            Obviously, some like Chrissie believe Sue is guilty and others like my friends in the Supporters of Sue, believe in her innocence.

            My interest in the case began just as a member of the public, interested in what was an unusual – to say the least – item reported in the media. I followed it through Tasmanian Times, trying to piece it together in order to understand, to form a picture of what had happened.

            Ben Lohrenberger was quite prominent as a voice from the ‘she’s guilty’ side. You were on the other. I formed the view at the time, that he had ‘debate benefit’ by having access to the trial proceedings via his wife who at the time was a reporter for The Mercury.

            This doesn’t mean that he was privy to the truth and that we members of the public were wallowing in ignorance … though perhaps we were! What it does mean, in my view, is that Ben was able to access a wider range of material at that time than people like me. How could we dispute?

            Ben challenged the ‘she is innocent’ side to release the court transcript, saying that the Sue Supporters were ‘cherry-picking’. I guess I felt that was a case of ‘the pot calling the kettle black’. In any case, the transcript was released. It has proved to be a vehicle for much learning and also, for debate.

            Chrissie says again that she’s seen the docs and that Sue was lying. However, she doesn’t give specific examples of the lies … which she now writes Sue told “many times“.

            It’s not impossible that Sue told lies many times. But I haven’t seen them. I’ve been through the court transcript with a ‘fine tooth comb’ and have not found any. I believe that the so-called lie that Sue told was firstly, not even a lie. She did not at first mention that she had gone down to Marieville Esplanade, after that disturbing phone call. That could be called ‘with-holding the truth’ and we know what Sue’s explanation was for that. Later, in a subsequent interview, Sue told a police officer that she’d stayed home that night.

            That was ‘the lie’, something I suggest that in different circumstances we’d call a ‘white lie’ while others might mockingly suggest ‘porkies’. However we regard that mistruth, Sue gave a tenable explanation as to why she had told it. Having read Sue’s and Richard King’s evidence about that phone call, I’m more towards accepting that Sue went down to Marieville Esp. out of concern for having the car at her disposal – should anything untoward occur and thus, should she need it sooner that later (as suggested by Richard King in that out-of-the-blue night-time phone-call).

            You know, you can make a ‘shit sandwich’ out of anything, if that’s what you are paid #$100s of $1000s of $ a year to do … and if your job gives you such an opportunity. And Andrew, Chrissie worked with such people. I wonder if she – like Ben Lohrenberger may have been able to do in a separate context – I wonder if she has used her access to persons in the legal fraternity to which Tim Ellis belongs/belonged … to skim and pick from the documents that we Joe and Josephine Citizens haven’t/hadn’t seen.

            But why call it quits when you’re on a roll?

            I have seen documents … records of interviews with Sue and blah-blah-blah. There aren’t – as far as I can see, instances of Sue telling lies. Chrissie is free to document them – imaginary as they may well prove to be.

            Whose office did Crissie work in?

            Andrew: I began this comment by remarking that I don’t have a belief in either Sue’s guilt or innocence. What I do have is a belief that Justice Blow ‘miscued’ when he rejected Gunson’s request to have Vass recalled. That – in my opinion – was an instance of a miscarriage of justice. God … there are other examples (canvassed in the Etter/Selby Report) to support the notion of an MoJ.

            I do have an increasing opinion that there is information which exonerates Sue and implicates others; and that ‘worserer’ … the Tasmanian Police have been acting to counteract it. I can’t pre-empt what is in the Etter-Selby report to A-G Elise Archer, but I can say that I question Detective Shane ‘Sam’ Sinnitt’s inability to find the address that Meaghan Vass had advised as being where she was going to spend her sleepover, on the night of 26Jan2009. I found it. I will take you to it … next time we convene. – I’m not saying that the sleepover address is related to the Etter-Selby Report, nor that it is necessarily significant.

      • Helen Adkins-Sherston says:

        What a shame Bob Martyn’s statement was not disclosed to the court or was simply brushed aside as a witness. Still better late than never. I knew Bob from living in Hobart and he was such a gentleman.

  4. Tom Cairns says:

    Did Elise Archer really say those words: “She’ll never get out…”? How scary and depraved that is. However, I for one do believe it. Why shouldn’t I? It is so consistent with all that has gone before, all since the opening scenes with Eve Ash’s “Shadow of Doubt”.
    So what is the next phase? When Sue is eligible for parole they will say she can not be granted any unless she tells where Bob Chappell’s body is?
    To go to the extremes that the Tasmanian authorities have reminds us those miserable little dictatorships around the globe with their mass graves and arrests without trial and the endless lies and corruption.
    Will there ever be justice, not just for Susan but for those who already have the name of the murderer and persist in playing to win whatever the cost?
    And does the Federal government provide funding on behalf of the taxpayer to this little garden of Eden “at the bottom of Australia”?
    God save thee Ancient Mariner from the fiends that plague thee thus, why looks’t thou so? With my crossbow I shot the albatross.

    • Geraldine Allan says:

      Tom it seems to me a time where 2nd hand gossip is best left where it belongs — unattended.

      Right now, it’s time to
      1) reassure the Tasmanian Attorney-General that requests are well informed and reliably based and,
      2) afford her the respect and trust of her position.

      To me that seems the best way forward for Tasmanian citizens who earnestly seek justice, to gain due consideration of our request.

  5. Jerry Fitzsimmons says:

    “Failure to Disclose evidence”. Upon hearing those words I suggest to readers to hark back to one of the greatest miscarriages of justice that has since been written about, even a movie made about. I refer to the book, an autobiography by Gerry Conlon, “PROVED INNOCENT” and the movie based on the autobiography, “IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER”.
    Then, after the conviction the lies by a government that when later exposed, disclosed cover-ups leading to the death of an innocent and wrongfully convicted man who died in prison and much much more.
    Hidden documentation discovered in buried police files and the prosecution’s deliberate concealment of exculpatory evidence meant that as a matter of law the convictions were reversed.
    While we all wait for the embargo to be lifted make some time to read and view the above references to get an understanding if you ever doubted it, that cover-ups, even, dare I say it, mistakes can be made but admitting to them, well, this is what we are all conveying to those tasked to investigate Bob Chappell’s disappearance, before the truth comes out, as it always will.
    As always Andrew, persistent compelling reading with much more to come I’m sure.

    • Geraldine Allan says:

      Oh yes Jerry, that book & film had a profound effect on me — the Guildford Four. Cruel cover-up; consequently four innocent men suffered the most horrific lives thereafter.

      “Unemployed young Irishman Gerry Conlon (Daniel Day-Lewis) gets by as a petty thief in 1970s Belfast. When local IRA leaders get fed up with him, he flees to England and meets up with his friend Paul Hill (John Lynch). On the same night that the IRA bombs a nearby pub, the friends get kicked out of their communal digs and are forced to sleep in a park. He returns to Belfast, but is arrested as the prime suspect in the bombing and imprisoned, where he spends 15 years trying to clear his name.”

      I believe the movie is available on Netflix

      • Jerry Fitzsimmons says:

        And Geraldine, as you would be fully aware , the government and police were made fully aware of those who actually carried out the bombings yet they continued to keep innocent people locked up in prison.
        Similarly, Meaghan Vass’s admissions have gone unheeded. So another individual languishes in prison while the inactions of both government and police, who also relied on circumstantial evidence to get their verdict, still goes on.
        Gerry Conlon’s family life years were stolen. Sue Neill-Fraser’s family life years have been stolen. The calls for a CRCC, both state and federal get louder and louder.
        I would like to also acknowledge the Chappell family, having been reminded, that it is “missing person’s week”.

  6. Williambtm says:

    Tasmania’s Justice System, as well as the State’s Department of Justice, both these agents of rectitude are discriminatory and or heavily prejudiced against the everyday luckless person (Sue Neil-Fraser) who happened to be Bob Chappell’s partner.

    Nowadays, all those former Unitas students are running the whole show here in this State of Tasmania.

    I have mentioned in prior comments that the Tasmanian legal profession, along with this State’s justice system, both are rotten with bias and prejudice, which doth hark back to the 1830s era rule of law & justice.

    (An observation remarked upon by the late art critic and author Robert Hughes, author of a number of well-researched books: The Fatal Shore. 1st edition print 1988.) Robert Hughes became an uncle of Malcolm Turnbull. https://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/hughes-robert-studley-17325

    • Owen Allen says:

      It ain’t over, till it’s over. Bring it on.
      So former unitas students are the “faceless men”, “the old boys club”.
      And some. Of course, it is ” island syndrome”, a psychopathic power of self indulgence, we are the centre of the universe.
      Or just plainly criminal.
      And I prefer the latter.

  7. Rodger Warren says:

    Hi Andrew
    Thanks again for your Wrongful Convictions Report.
    The Truth always comes out in the end.
    I just hope Sue is alive and well when it does.
    Take care
    Rodger Warren

  8. owen allen says:

    Excellent work.

  9. Robin Bowles says:

    We’ve known since the beginning that Bob Chappell’s murder was not properly investigated and that the jury never heard the full story. For one example, why has Sam Devine, named as one of Bob’s killers by Meagan Vass, never been interrogated, or put in a witness box regarding his whereabouts and activities that night? Instead, anyone with the whisper of an alternate view to that of the police—Barbara Etter, Jeff Thompson, Karen Keefe and poor Meagan Vass—have been vilified, belittled, subjected to ridicule, lost their children or even had their livelihoods removed because they have spoken the truth.
    During Sue’s Leave to Appeal application, I was in Tasmania and someone I know who works at Parliament House told me they happened to be in the tea room there and while making their cups of coffee, overheard another parliamentarian trying to engage Elise Archer about the validity of Sue’s appeal. Archer allegedly responded, ‘She’ll never get out, but we have to go through the motions.’ It is hearsay, but I totally believe the person who told me. They, unlike the police and others, have no reason to lie.

    • andrew says:

      A credible source has advised me of the same sentiment being expressed by Elise Archer.

    • Abbi says:

      You raise an excellent point. Why indeed has SNFs legal team not called Sam Devine and put him in the witness box as a witness for the defence? They are entitled to and have had every opportunity to do so. Perhaps this is one you can direct to SNFs legal team to answer…

  10. Sandra Duncan says:

    When will the embargo be lifted ?

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