Is Tasmanian Parliament complicit in covering up injustice?

Andrew L. Urban.

Four judges, two DPPs and a defence barrister compounded the flawed police investigation into the disappearance of Bob Chappell on Australia Day 2009 (whose body has never been found), for whose murder Sue Neill-Fraser has been convicted. Following two recent legal submissions to Parliament, is it plausible to deny the need for a judicial review of the case? Will anyone ever be held to account? Is Parliament complicit in covering up an egregious miscarriage of justice if it fails to act? 

In the wake of two significant submissions to the Tasmanian Parliament delegitimising the Sue Neill-Fraser murder conviction, both grounded in legal principles – one in August 2021 (the Etter/Selby papers) and one this week (Dr Bob Moles) – it is worth noting that many of the cumulative errors and misdeeds have been a cause for concern to the general public who have followed the case. These new submissions elevate that concern to a new level and in great detail, confirming in law what reasonable people have observed.

The police investigation was marred by serial incompetence and even wrongdoing (Etter/Selby papers).

Then DPP Ellis SC speculated without evidence about how Bob Chappell was murdered on the yacht, Four Winds, by Sue Neill-Fraser; he also sought to dismiss the importance of Meaghan Vass’ DNA evidence; he also argued against the recall of Meaghan Vass; Ellis also argued against the granting of leave to appeal to the High Court.

Defence counsel (the late) Gunson SC failed to strenuously object to the DPP’s violation of the rules at trial.

Trail judge Blow (now Chief Justice) allowed the extensive and impermissible speculation to be put to the jury; he also failed to disallow inadmissible forensic evidence (Moles submission); he also disallowed the recall of eye witness Meaghan Vass.

Appeal judges Crawford CJ, Tennant, Porter JJ failed to recognise the validity of any trial errors in the grounds of appeal.

“Ground 1: A miscarriage of justice resulted from the prosecutor’s failure to recall Meaghan Vass, and/or from the learned judge’s refusal to recall Ms Vass or to direct that she be recalled, following disclosure, during the subsequent evidence of Detective Sinnitt, of matters concerning the whereabouts of Ms Vass on 26 January 2009, which matters had not been disclosed to the appellant until after Ms Vass gave evidence.”

“Ground 5: The learned trial judge erred:

a) in failing to instruct the jury that they could not accept the hypotheses, raised by the prosecutor in cross-examination of the appellant and in his final address, to the effect that the appellant had used a wrench to kill Mr Chappell and that she had employed yellow rubber gloves found in the galley of the yacht; and

b) in re-directing, in answer to the jury’s question on the difference between murder without an intention to cause death and manslaughter, by reference to the example of ‘hitting a man on the head with a wrench’ as those hypotheses amounted to speculation because there was no evidence that Mr Chappell was struck by a wrench and the evidence showed that the DNA of Timothy Chappell, not that of the appellant, was found on the gloves.”

Current DPP Coates has ignored new evidence that further proves appealable error.

Sue Neill-Fraser was arrested in August 2009, convicted in October 2010 and sentenced to 26 years (reduced to 23 on appeal), with a non-parole period of 13 years (ends in 2023). Years after the trial, Meaghan Vass has stated – as confirmed by her DNA – that she witnessed a fight on Four Winds that resulted in Chappell’s death.

Is there a detectable sense of urgency in addressing what is quite obviously a wrongful conviction – on several grounds?


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24 Responses to Is Tasmanian Parliament complicit in covering up injustice?

  1. Williambtm says:

    It is essential to understand that the role of a State DPP or even a Commonwealth-appointed DPP is inviolable: (A dangerous fact.)
    This appointment embodies an outdated anachronistic term representing an inviolable legal stature.
    The British are responsible for this Anachronism.
    First, we must look at ‘inviolable’ then further down below to identify Anachronism.

    Learn to pronounce
    never to be broken, infringed, or dishonored.
    “an inviolable rule of chastity”
    Now add to that a power of discretion equivalent to a person being convicted as absolutely wrong or right, without any possible redress.
    Now we travel to Anachronism:
    Definition of anachronism
    1: an error in chronology
    especially: a chronological misplacing of persons, events, objects, or customs concerning each other, found several anachronisms in the movie.
    2: a person or a thing chronologically out of place, especially: one from a former age that is incongruous in the present.
    3: the state or condition of being chronologically out of place.

    So it is sufficient to realize that the ‘powers vested in a DPP’ and given its history are no longer legally relevant to our present era. (Or should not be.)

    This singular set of facts in the above go to the heart of Ms. Sue Neill-Fraser, pronounced as guilty, then imprisoned.
    There is an urgent need to review the powers held sacrosanct to a DPP.
    It is indeed a threatening life and death matter.

  2. William Griffin says:

    The saddest part of this saga is convictions like this are a regular thing in Tasmania . Having seen it first hand where the defence barrister aids in your conviction by allowing evidence to be ignored as in fingerprints belonging to unknown persons and alleged admissions made by a person when on heavy painkillers. It breaches all reasonable steps in the investigations to ignore evidence because it does not fit the theory you have barristers conduct of not doing the correct thing prosecutors presenting what they can prove and no speculation and Defence Barristers challenge speculation and non lawful evidence. I train investigators and most Tasmanian police investigators would be marked as not yet competent based on what I have seen.

  3. owen allen says:

    Thanks responders. RESPONDERS FOR JUSTICE.
    I could go crazy; but I refuse to follow their agenda.
    Stay strong, keep it up, God Bless, Jesus Lives.
    Hey, I ride Harley Davidson, the Freedom Machine, and I Love Jesus.
    We love you Sue and all falsely imprisoned and convicted.

  4. David Jones says:

    Hopefully the Appeal decision will be brought down in the near future – I think the judges have now been deliberating for more than seven and a half months.

    I know that there have been two books, a TV documentary series and a number segments on ’60 Minutes’ produced about this case. However, I think that the circumstances about this case need to be better communicated to the broader Australian public. The circumstances surrounding this case are simply extraordinary. Whatever the result of the Appeal I have no doubt that this case warrants a full Judicial Review or Royal Commission. Such a review could be conducted by three eminent non-Tasmanian judges.

    I also think that the evidence of Meaghan Vass should have been given to the court in a closed court setting or by video-link because from what I have read she appeared to be intimidated by the presence of certain people in the court room.

  5. Julie in Sydney says:

    The imprisonment of SNF erodes all confidence in the capacity of Tasmania’s legal system to dispense justice in the case of the death of her husband, Bob Chappell.
    Have supporters in Hobart staged a peaceful march & rally in front of the Tas Parliament building & court houses yet?

  6. Peter Martin says:

    Somehow, pressure must be applied to the three court judges to get out of “retirement”. Some sort of media campaign, public marches, posters on lamp posts and shop windows.

    • andrew says:

      While I understand and share your frustration, Peter, that would not be productive, even if enough Tasmanians could be persuaded to get involved… Sue’s legal team could, however, respectfully request the judges for an estimation of when their deliberations might conclude. I suspect they are not keen to do that. Or if they are, it would not be made public.

  7. Robin Bowles says:

    Why don’t they just LET HER OUT?? Too much skin in the game. If Sue’s exonerated it’s going to be VERY expensive, financially and reputationally. One example: CJ Blow allowed speculative material and misdirected the jury. That’s where it seriously went off the rails. For the Appeal they failed to bring in interstate judges, even though everyone knows this is good old Establishment Tasmania. The three judges deliberating now, for SEVEN MONTHS, on ONE point of law can’t bring themselves to deliver a finding. Why not? It’s not rocket science. Arriving at a finding exonerating SNF puts their BOSS squarely in the poo! Be brave Appeal Judges!! Just LET HER OUT!!

  8. Rodger Warren says:

    Hi Andrew
    The short answer is Yes.
    The Tasmanian Parliament must know Sue Neill-Fraser is innocent.
    Otherwise they would have to be stupid.
    The question is why they will not act.
    Sadly I believe many in the Federal Parliament also know Sue Neill-Fraser is innocent.
    They also fail to act.
    All we can do is keep trying.
    We know we are right and the Truth will come out.
    Take care
    Rodger Warren

  9. Fiona Peate says:

    When the truth finally is accepted & acted upon (and I believe that it will be) there will be egg on many red-faced members of policing, the justice system & the media. They should be held accountable for the serious miscarriage that they helped contrive.

    • Geraldine Allan says:

      Thus Fiona, is it a case of Napoleon style? ‘Never interfere with an enemy while he’s in the process of destroying himself.’

      If TASPOL & ODPP are self-destructing as seems to be slowly yet surely happening, are elected representatives sitting back saving themselves the angst of allegations of ‘blood on their hands’?

      Is this why we are onlookers to parliamentary inaction?

  10. owen allen says:

    To ignore evil, is to be complicit to it. in

    All that it takes, is men of good will to do nothing..

    Is Justice in Australia.
    Is Justice in Tasmania Chief Justice Blow?

    I self edited more to silence at this time.

  11. owen allen says:

    Twice statements of mine were reversed in subject and held as police statement against me, and one will full perjurer directly lied to police.
    Tasmania is EVIL the DEVIL RULES.

  12. Pauline Chalmers says:

    Andrew – often time it’s race based violence – let’s agree if law enforcement feel a peer affinity toward a person, they are less likely to become a target in the “hunt”.
    Sue immediately became the MAIN suspect after her professed visit to Bunning’s was discredited.
    It was all over for her from that moment in time!!
    No credit was given for the reasons behind her misreporting!!
    I thought the police role was to gather evidence and the court’s duty to determine guilt or innocence.
    It’s been a mishap for Sue when misogynist and sexist utterances were given a free rein and not challenged or restricted in her case.
    The male witnesses were chosen by the prosecution for their CAPACITY to embellish, and I mean really embellish their narrative’s, unsupported with evidential fact.
    When Sue supported her claim there were thieves moving in and around the yacht’s with her diary evidence, they ran true to form, as everything she said and did caused them displeasure and was discounted, if it did not “fit” with their narrative.
    That contradiction is gender-based violence in my books

  13. Pauline Chalmers says:

    There is no doubt in anyone’s mind the Tasmanian Parliament led by Premier Peter Gutwein is complicit in (potentially) covering up injustice. TASCCA has retired to consider SN-F’s appeal and have either gone to sleep or they are slowly mustering up their courage to the level Justice Peter Mahon possessed, when he concluded Air New Zealand had inadequate safety processes, that led directly to the 1979 Erebus air crash, and the airline covered up for it’s mistakes with “an orchestrated litany of lies” whilst pointing the finger of blame at the pilot Captain Jim Collins.
    Similarly Law Enforcement in Tasmania has delivered “an orchestrated litany of lies” in court over who is actually to blame for Bob Chappell’s disappearance, whilst pointing the finger of blame at his partner Sue Neill-Fraser. She is recognised as a victim of gender-based violence. GBV refers to harmful acts directed at an individual based on their gender and it is a serious violation of human rights and a life threatening health and protection issue. It is not sexual or physical but psychological as recently visited upon Sue when she was placed in seclusion for a week, for a misdemeanour which the public noted she immediately apologised for. I pray her perpetrator’s, who misused a public court to psychologically abuse her in, will follow suit with a substantive apology and her immediate release. Every day usage of sound reason insists.

    • andrew says:

      Pauline – I would hesitate to characterise Sue Neill-Fraser’s fate as being ‘gender based violence’. The examples of males in circumstances of serious miscarriage of justice (including one currently under journalistic investigation here) argue against that proposition.

      • Geraldine Allan says:

        I agree.
        My personal experience and direct evidence of a case of 3 accused and convicted (yet innocent) males displays similar TASPOL & ODPP wrongful practices and misconduct, as is evidenced in the SN-F conviction.
        There are other instances as well.

    • Garry Stannus says:

      It’s true – as Andrew and Geraldine point out – that males too, find themselves in similar situations, vis à vis the police. However, just to have a peek at the other side of the coin, I would suggest that we consider the attitudes of (former) Dtv. Inspector Peter Powell … towards Sue Neill-Fraser.

      I could be wrong on this – and I apologise to Peter Powell if I am – but in all my research on the case, I gained the impression that he resented her for her social standing (class) and that her gender was a part of that attitude. The term ‘rich bitch’ was not used by Powell, I write it here to try and indicate how a woman is sometime vilified for her class and gender.

      If I also consider how Tim Ellis prosecuted his case at trial, then I would suggest that he too seemed to possess similar attitudes – or at least, that he evoked/dog-whistled such attitudes during the trial. Again, I could be wrong on this … if so, I apologise.

      However, these are my impressions: that Sue had the following attributes used against her: her confidence as a woman, her privileged background, her ‘best yacht in the harbour’ (my words) status.

      These remarks of mine are not a reflection on Sue, the person. No. As much of her as I know, she is an outgoing, trusting and empathetic person. She has worked hard during the course of her life and in prison, she has displayed a humanity to her fellows. To me, that humanity sometimes seems to have-been/be absent in those who did imprison her, or in those who would continue her imprisonment.

      • andrew says:

        I can’t disagree with anything in your comment, Garry.

        • Helen Adkins-Sherston says:


          Please refer back to 2009 when a 12 year old girl was prostituted by about 100? men in Hobart coerced by her mother and partner and who do you think the judge was who refuted evidence of so many men. That poor girl is now in her early 20’s. That particular judge should have been disbarred. Perhaps we need to follow Singapore with corrupt prosecutors. The Rule of Karma is about to hit.

          • andrew says:

            The Examiner reported: FORMER Legislative Councillor Terry Martin was one of more than 100 men who had sex with a 12-year-old girl who was prostituted by her mother in 2009.

            Mr Martin appeared in the Hobart Supreme Court today to face preliminary proceedings before his trial for having sex with a person under the age of 17.

            His lawyer Peter Barker said Mr Martin intended to use the defence that the girl looked and acted older than 17.

            That defence was recently revealed as the reason why Tasmania Police chose not to charge a number of other men who had sex with the girl.

            They had advice from Crown Prosecutor Daryl Coates that it would be very difficult to obtain convictions and the sheer number of trials would be harmful to the girl.

    • Garry Stannus responding to Pauline Chalmers says:

      your proposition that Sue is a victim of gender-based violence is for many of us difficult-at-first-take to accept. Intuitively, violence is for me something that is usually male-based and physical. And yet it goes further than that, when I think about it.

      There are implicit and explicit threats of violence in much of human intercourse. And stepping towards the more particular, don’t we see that handcuffing a person, subjecting a person to a physical examination etc … is not an act of violence?

      I don’t want (here) to get into a full-blown examination of the inside-outs of the concept/term ‘violence’.

      I mentioned in another comment on this thread that gender may have been a part of Dtv. Inspector Peter Powell’s attitude towards Sue Neill-Fraser. Let me give another example…

      When Sue and Bob engaged a two-person delivery crew to deliver the Four Winds to Sandy Bay, things went haywire right from the first day. I’m talking fouled navigational channels, dirty, sea-sickening weather, nose bleeds and fuel blockages.

      There was on that voyage of four persons, one who held firm views, possibly strengthened by end-of-day drinks. That person – from my notes – was instrumental in stopping Bob from rejoining the vessel after getting off the aspro blood thinners, and getting out of the admitted-for-precautionary-reasons, hospital. No, that person would not let Bob back on the boat.

      That person – from my notes – was instrumental in a later end-of-day bbq on Four Winds and invited other yachties (all men?) onto the the yacht. Sue (in my view) was subjected to a number of pointed and obviously ‘male-chauvinist’ remarks/questions:

      ‘So yez want another white?
      ‘No thanks, welcome aboard, I’m fine’.

      ‘Nice yacht you’ve got here…’
      ‘Yes, it’s something special.’

      ‘What’s happened to that fella of yours, isn’t he up for it?’
      ‘No, it’s not that, he’s had a medical problem and is under observation in the hospital…’

      ‘So you’re not saying – what’d happen if he wasn’t up to going-on with this boat thing and you got stuck – hypo-thet-i-cally-with the boat on your own?’
      ‘Well I suppose I’d buy him out’.

      There you go, your Honour, there you go members of the jury … she’s been planning Bob’s elimination(death) all the way down the east coast of Australia.
      [Simply Basil Fawlty at his brilliant best.]

      I digressed, Pauline. Let me pick the thread back up … let me finish by saying that there are grounds for thinking that one of the delivery crew didn’t like the idea of being told what to do by any airy-fairy new owners and particularly, didn’t like it when he was saying it as how ‘it should be’ and Sue wasn’t agreeing… rich bitch?

      If it’s not ‘gender based violence’, then what label do we give it … ‘passive gender aggression?

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