Andrew L. Urban
Sue Neill-Fraser’s anticipated application seeking leave to appeal to The High Court has now been lodged, hoping to overturn the Tasmanian Court of Appeal dismissal of her case on November 30, 2021, asking the High Court to quash the 2010 conviction.
The Tasmanian appeal court, claims the application, “erred in holding that there had not been a substantial miscarriage of justice,” and “There was no rational basis to reject the conclusion that (eye-witness) Meaghan Vass had been on the Four Winds at the relevant time.”
The application, on the eve of the bleak 13th anniversary of the 2009 Australia Day disappearance and presumed death of Bob Chappell, should not have been necessary, had either one of the other two judges on the November appeal agreed with Justice Estcourt’s judgement that Sue Neill-Fraser’s appeal should be allowed.
Evidence at the appeal by Victorian forensics expert Max Jones effectively undermined the prosecution’s secondary transfer explanation for Vass’s DNA being on the yacht, saying there was “no evidence to support” the secondary transfer hypothesis. The Vass testimony has been central to the issue of Neill-Fraser’s presence at the crime scene. Vass testified she wasn’t there.
At the appeal, Justice Helen Wood said that even if Max Jones’ evidence led a jury to conclude Vass was more likely to have been on the yacht, this did “not necessarily” point to her being there during the murder. A reasonable person might conclude, however, that Jones’ testimony should lead the judges to entertain reasonable doubt about the guilty verdict.
It is unknown when the High Court will consider the application.