Andrew L. Urban.
Meaghan Vass’ DNA deposit on the Four Winds being the sole focus of Sue Neill-Fraser’s second appeal (decision announced November 30, 2021), it was central to the ABC RN’s 30 minute Law Report program on Tuesday, December 7, 2021. Perhaps inadvertently, it showed the weakness of the dismissal of the appeal.
Hosted by Damien Carrick, Law Report invited Loretta Lohberger, ABC Hobart journalist, Peter Powell, Tasmania Police retired detective inspector who led the investigation into Bob Chappell’s disappearance and Lara Giddings, former premier of Tasmania.
Lohberger recounted the basics of the case, but made the mistake of referring as probative evidence to the midnight ATM footage of the back half of a car which police claimed ‘looked like hers’ and could have been Sue Neill-Fraser’s. The footage was not used in the trial and remains highly speculative.
Meaghan Vass’ DNA deposit being the sole focus of this second appeal, it was central to the program.
Inspector Peter Powell still thinks “there is every possibility that her DNA got on at Cleanlift” (a couple of days later). Law Report Host Damien Carrick did not seek Powell’s explanation as to why Vass would insert herself into the case after the trial.
Powell also quotes Max Jones of Victorian forensic service who “makes concessions about the possibility of the DNA being a secondary transfer”. Secondary transfer on a shoe… worn by a one legged cop who hopped on board and then never set foot on the deck again?
Lara Giddings referred to the two appeal judges considering “the possibility” of it being a secondary transfer.
Reliance on ‘possibilites’ about evidence cannot lawfully underpin a guilty verdict beyond reasonable doubt.
Giddings also made the argument about Vass and her alternating evidence that it had to be seen in the context of her vulnerability. Giddings also explained how the appeal judges were restricted in their considerations to the matter before them at court, without looking at all the material that has accumulated since the trial.