Belligerence v evidence bedevils Sue Neill-Fraser dispute

Andrew L. Urban.

Shouting at the People v Arguing the Evidence has characterised the public dispute over the reliability of Sue Neill-Fraser’s murder conviction, as the latest public statements show.

In her Letter to the Editor (Mercury, Sept. 8, 2021), SNF Support Group’s Treasurer Judy Benson, writes “I’d like to reassure Colin Riley (Police Association spokesman) that our members and many others who support an inquiry into the case generally have the greatest respect for the police force as a whole. … Things missed or covered up often inevitably come out later…”

Judy’s letter highlights the different behaviour between those who support the conviction and those who question it. The police/prosecution establishment have always displayed belligerence – including the threat of reprisals (see below) – fighting against the people who are arguing the evidence.

Police Commissioner Darren Hine said “Hobart man Bob Chappell was murdered in 2009 by his then partner Susan Neill-Fraser on board their yacht moored in the Derwent River — those are the facts …” referring to evidence as “selective arguments .. made by her support group or sensationalist tabloid-style national media programs…”

Police Association’s Colin Riley referred to “public discussion of unsubstantiated material” as “reckless and attention seeking…” And “We are not …prepared to remain silent as individuals make unfounded allegations against our members without reprisal.” Reprisal, eh? And that’s a credible threat, if past behaviour is any guide.

They are not “selective arguments” and “unfounded allegations” but evidence; papers detailing the new evidence appear on the Parliamentary website: to access, enter ‘Susan’ into the search box. These papers attract absolute privilege and can be quoted.

The belligerent, intimidatory nature of the cause of protecting the conviction has always been a feature of the dispute. The consistent and aggressive prejudice against those who question the conviction has continued. Obviously, it’s not a sign of confidence in the conviction …

SNF Support Group (as do several lawyers and barristers as well as this blog) want an independent inquiry into the case.

  1. There is an appeal in progress, which clearly signals at least the possibility of reasonable doubt against the conviction.
  2. Documents substantiating new evidence that point to malpractice, incompetence and lies in the investigation were sent to politicians, the Attorney-General, Sue’s legal team and others – and tabled in Parliament at the end of August 2021. The documents were the result of years of research by Sue’s former lawyer Barbara Etter APM, and Canberra barrister Hugh Selby.

Sue Neill-Fraser was convicted of murdering her partner Bob Chappell on Australia Day 2009 and sentenced to 23 years. It was a circumstantial case: no body, no weapon and no witnesses were put to the jury.

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19 Responses to Belligerence v evidence bedevils Sue Neill-Fraser dispute

  1. Geraldine says:

    Playing the man not the ball cartoon is the reality of the situation. Applause to the ‘toonist.

    When not winning the unwinnable argument, attempt to destroy the winning person/argument for no valid reason.

    Frustratingly and annoyingly, in this instance the umpire’s whistle seems to be stuck up his/her metaphorical bum. And, there’s yet another ‘toon thought lol.

    • Garry Stannus says:

      Yes, Geraldine: and you – a fellow ‘Northerner’ (of Tasmania) would know that what appeared in The Mercury was the edited version of what Colin Riley originally wrote. However, Launceston’s The Examiner was not so concerned and did not soften Riley’s opinion piece: it included a few paragraphs (themselves potentially ‘in contempt’ of a matter before the courts) which can (in my view) be read as a direct attack on one of Sue Neill-Fraser’s supporters. Sorry for my long-winded/qualified-statements ways…

      I was surprised by what I read in The Examiner. Riley’s opinion-piece did not match (in the way it was written) … did not match with that profile of him which appears in your comment (below: 8Sept21). He is obviously an achiever, and perhaps like us … is in the twilight of his ‘career’. The Examiner version of his opinion-piece suggests that he was playing to his audience, playing to his constituency. Alternatively, perhaps, what he wrote was ‘written in wrath’.

      [Pardon the ‘w’ alliterations … but am disinclined to change them 😏 ]

      • Pauline Chalmers says:

        Garry, Riley’s statement was written in wrath. He’s very unprofessional and deletes any commentary on the Police Association FB page that doesn’t AFFIRM his narrative. It’s as if he doesn’t comprehend he lives in an open democracy. He doesn’t want to learn or listen to a counter narrative to his own. Unless he can lead that body toward a CCRC, he should stand down because his police conduct is the reason one is needed.

  2. Robert Greenshields says:

    Judy Bensons statement in the second paragraph reinforces the attitude and sentiments of many who support SNFs cause I strongly believe. Australians in general, have always pretty much willingly adhered to and accepted the verbiage, direction, and authority of credible leaders.
    It is the tsunami of incredible, duplicitous, in house promoted, under skilled, and under educated boondogglers and time servers, (as Churchill described the institutionalised, militarised, neurotics), who have ascended to positions of command that little or no respect is justifiably directed towards.

  3. Noeline Durovic says:

    Andrew..I call it belligerence – bullying! Although with the world watching ( eg.. The discovery Chanel- millions haunted by the facts of Susan Neil Frasers terrible fate) It may be a touch unrealistic of Tas Police Members to threaten retaliation reprisal against 25000 thousand (plus and growing) people whom are prepared to put their names to the solid belief of Susan Neil Frasers innocence.. Too much wrong manipulation of black facts by those whom should represent the law not break it and frame an innocent woman. The mountain of evidence that reeks of police corruption – Prosecutors leading Juries on an avalanche of false reasoning and portrayal of witnesses coached to lie to
    escape punishment as a law breakers reeks of erring to frame Susan Neil Fraser in a wrongful conviction. Begets and begs the question Susan Neil Fraser is by all facts to her innocence,,,like the dingo did take the baby! Why will not the Police prosecute and chase down the real killer(s)? The Four Winds was fitted out and refurbished in Queensland in a Marina – know to expose sea going yachts berthing – bought in from ocean arrests tied to drug snuggling of actions of the Federal Police busts.? What really were the real intruders turned killers doing on the Four winds that fateful 2009 Australia Day ? Seems a terrible act to kill for items of little worth for resale? Was there drugs to be collected perhaps..Lots of murder for criminality in the greed of big drug money has terrible connotations?

  4. Brian Johnston says:

    It was not a circumstantial case. See second to last line.
    The police decided Sue was guilty before the evidence was in.
    They then built the case around Sue.
    Sue was nominated. It is referred to as the nominative approach/method.
    It was not a circumstantial case.
    This is what makes Sue’s case so bewildering. It was not circumstantial.
    There is no circumstantial evidence. Sue was boxed in.
    The unanswered question is, how much of Sue’s case was incompetence and how much was corruption. Sometimes a very fine line.
    Did corruption put Sue in gaol?
    Is corruption keeping Sue in gaol?
    Do the police genuinely believe Sue is guilty? Especially at this point in time?
    The AG should step up and sort the mess. To fail to act is negligence.

    • Robert Greenshields says:

      If it was not circumstantial, then it appears to be choreographed Brian. Not only a mistake in motivation but now obviously one of judgement, in more than one perspective it seems.

  5. Fiona Peate says:

    Well if you believe his self written resume maybe the police investigation into Bob’s disappearance would have been more robust if Colin had done it. I guess he was busy climbing the greasy corporate ladder.

  6. Jerry FItzsimmons says:

    Geraldine, you are a wealth of information, and we should all be grateful for it. However, are you sure that the Law Faculty at UTAS has not been party to Colin’s illustrious background, and I say this based on many, not all graduates, coming see from this closed shop in the Tasmanian justice system. 🤭🤭🤭

  7. Rodger Warren says:

    I congratulate everyone who has believed in the innocence of Sue Neill- Fraser from the beginning and have stuck by her ever since.
    I only found out about her case in 2018 and have vowed never to visit Tasmania until she is released.
    I am afraid I would be arrested simply because I read the Wrongful Convictions Report.

    • Geraldine Allan says:

      Those of us who live in Tasmania, at times, walk a fine line.

    • Helen Adkins-Sherston says:

      Hello Rodger

      I would too be arrested for shouting my mouth off about this case. I was living in Brisbane at the time Sue was arrested and was absolutely overwhelmed by this disgraceful injustice. Having come back to this State seven years ago, much to my disgust, as I am a returnee, it has actually regressed except for the blow-ins from the mainland who have blown in the money and foresight. I am part of the network support for SNF and feel very passionate about this. Thank you Rodger.

  8. Keith says:

    And? All the more reason why he should have known better than to shoot his mouth off about amongst other things, “unsubstantiated material”.
    He needs to read the submission tabled in parliament then apologise.

    • Geraldine Allan says:

      My naïveté does not extend to a belief that Colin Riley had not already read the Etter/Selby papers at the time of writing this media release.

  9. Geraldine says:

    and for the record, here’s the promo about Colin Riley —
    “Colin Riley graduated with a Bachelor of Science (1994) and joined Tasmania Police that same year. He has occupied positions in uniform sections, the Special Operations Group (including deployment at the Port Arthur Massacre 1996), Criminal Investigation Branch, Drug Investigation Services, Corporate Review Services and Human Resources including positions in recruitment, training, learning and development, staff support and staffing services. He has been an Inspector of Police since October 2008. He was posted in the demanding role as a Detective Inspector (2009-2014) managing the investigation of serious crime, whilst the Commanding Officer of the Australian Army Reserve Unit, the 12th/40th Battalion. He was elected by the Tasmania Police officers as the President of the Police Association of Tasmania and commenced in this role on 1 January 2019 – whilst retaining his rank as an Inspector of Police. He is a professional member of the Australian Human Resource Institute and a board member of the Police Federation of Australia. He has also completed a Master of Management Defence Studies (2003), Bachelor of Social Science (2006), Graduate Certificate Police Studies (2007), Graduate Certificate in Applied Management [Policing and Emergency Services] (2017) and invited and awarded membership of the Academic International Golden Key Society (2009). He has been awarded two Commissioner of Police awards; a Certificate of High Commendation in 1996 in relation to the Port Arthur incident, and a Certificate of Commendation in 2014 in relation to a murder investigation. His Australian Army Reserve career had no breaks in service commitment between 1987 and 2016 – where he elected inactive service to focus on policing. He attained the rank of Colonel and was the principal plans officer on the Headquarters 2nd Division based in Sydney. He was the Honorary Aide de camp to the Governor of Tasmania 1998 to 2002. He was also awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross in the Australia Day Honours in 2012 for his efforts as the Commanding Officer of the 12th/40th Battalion. Colin has been a volunteer companion at Camp Quality since May 2017.”

    Don’t say I didn’t tell you folks.

    • Geraldine Allan says:

      I failed to include my source. It is LinkedIn.
      Remembering that info there is self-written

      • Robert Greenshields says:

        Self written, self determined, and self ingratiating it seems. With due respect, to the plod in general, after many years of listening to, reading and endeavouring to understand the obvious motivations of true enablers, I prefer to recognise that a first year apprentice hairdresser or chef, far outweighs the long term value to any Australian community than any, may the next
        rung on the ladder be my rudder, styled, indoctrinated, academically enhanced, possibly self centred, lifetime public service
        funded individual.

    • Helen Adkins-Sherston says:

      Has Colin Riley ever left this State to live elsewhere ie in the Middle East or on the mainland. Like The Obstacles to Tasmania. We still are under a penal colony here but without the convicts.

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