Australia Day Sinnitt award…should it be sinbin award?

Andrew L. Urban.

We are eager to recognise meritorious service in the police service wherever it occurs in Australia …perhaps especially so in Tasmania. But we cannot applaud the Australia Day Award recognising Detective Sergeant Sinnitt, he of Sue Neill-Fraser miscarriage of justice fame. 

It was announced as a 2022 Australia Day Honour: Detective Sergeant Shane Sinnitt receives the Australian Police Medal which gives special recognition to members of Australian police forces for commendable service.

The jaundiced investigation of the 2009 Australia Day Bob Chappell disappearance was thus asserted as a boast in the citation, 12 years later: “As a highly skilled investigator, Detective Sergeant Sinnitt was an instrumental part of the team who investigated the murder of Bob Chappell. In what was an extremely prolonged and complex investigation – the murder conviction was in part due to Detective Sergeant Sinnitt’s commitment, professionalism and attention to detail throughout the investigation.

“Detective Sergeant Shane Sinnitt commenced with Tasmania Police in 1995 and was promoted to the rank of Detective Sergeant in 2015.

“Detective Sergeant Sinnitt is a highly skilled detective with a wealth of policing experience, predominantly across Southern Tasmania, including Hobart and Bridgewater Stations, and Criminal Investigation Branches at Bellerive, Kingston and Hobart.

“As an experienced CIB member, Detective Sergeant Sinnitt played a key role investigating the murder of Bob Chappell, which ultimately led to a murder conviction.”

Why is the award given now, over 11 years after the trial? Stung into defensive action perhaps, by the recent spate of published material that undermines the conviction, and the role of TasPol?

Sinnitt did indeed play a key role investigating the murder of Bob Chappell … see the Etter/Selby papers tabled in Parliament in August, 2021.



  1. It was clear from witness Peter Lorraine’s first statement to police (as noted by Sinnitt, the police officer, who took handwritten notes during the phone call that Lorraine made to police on 27 January 2009) that he did not see the Four Winds yacht or its dinghy (due to both description and distance issues – the Four Winds yacht was 280 metres away from Mr Lorraine’s observation point that was the Derwent Lane Jetty).He saw some other yacht with a dinghy that was, he said, small, 5 feet long, similar to a cockle boat, not a Zodiac, yellow/white, and which had NO outboard motor.
  2. Hence, Peter Lorraine’s evidence about sighting the Four Winds’ dinghy on the Australia Day afternoon was incorrect. He didn’t see any of the Four Winds, its dinghy, or Bob Chappell. He saw another yacht, another dinghy, another person. The notes of his first contact with police make that quite clear. But those notes were not disclosed to the Defence. 
  3. Peter Lorraine was presented at trial by the prosecution as an independent witness who on Australia Day 2009 saw an old man (CT 1409) and possibly the Four Winds yacht and its dinghy around 5pm. That timing made it possible for the accused Sue Neill-Fraser (SNF) to be on the Four Winds at a time when she claimed she was ashore. It also meant that the victim Bob Chappell was seemingly alive at 5 pm so had not come to grief via the occupants of the grey or different dinghy seen by various other people alongside the Four Winds that same day and around the same time (Conde, Clarke and P36) or in a relevant area in the lead up to Australia Day (Smith – in the leave to appeal hearing on 31 October 2017).
  4. Because he was independent, and because the Defence had no inkling as to the extent of the misleading nature of his evidence (particularly given disclosed and incomplete information on the Police Investigation Log), they accepted him and his evidence as credible.  Moreover, they accepted him as more credible than their client who has always said that she had left the Four Winds earlier and left the dinghy much earlier, probably around 3 pm (having spent about an hour on the boat – CT 1157). Here is what Defence counsel said in his closing to the jury (CT 1442 – see also CT 882 in absence of jury):

We know that on one view, Mr Lorraine, that Mr Chappell was sighted at about five o’clock by him with the grey dinghy behind and whilst Sergeant Conroy didn’t seem to be terribly convinced at the beginning that Mr Lorraine had seen Mr Chappell he seemed to come around to the proposition that that was right, given where the boat was situated, and I would suggest to you that it almost certainly was Mr Bob Chappell at five o’clock. Nobody reported seeing him being on the deck after that. That of course depends on a finding that you make as to whether you accept Mr Lorraine that it was Mr Chappell, I submit to you you could.


The jury had been given crucial evidence that was factually incorrect while supportive of the Crown’s case.

The following is an extract from the letter sent by Civil Liberties Australia to the Official Secretary to the Governor General Honours Secretariat:

“The ‘convicted murderer’ Sue Neill-Fraser, currently has a formal leave to appeal request against her conviction before the High Court of Australia. The (now) Det-Sgt Sinnitt and his action(s)/inaction(s) are, we believe, mentioned in the High Court appeal request documents.

We understand that Det-Sgt Sinnitt is also mentioned by name in 12 of 34 allegations, generally about incompetence/etc by the Crown in the same case, which are currently before the Tasmanian Integrity Commission, and also named repeatedly in the Etter/Selby documents, severely critical of Crown behaviour, tabled in the Upper House of the Tasmanian Parliament.

CLA here serves notice in advance that we will be asking for Det-Sgt Sinnitt’s APM to be revoked, with public announcements by the Governor-General and Honours Secretariat, if the conviction of Neill-Fraser is found, in the High Court or elsewhere in any other formal inquiry, to have been wrongful and/or to have been based in whole or in part on incompetent police investigation, unlawfully withheld or delayed police/prosecution/Crown documents, or Crown misbehaviour of which Det-Sgt Sinnitt was aware, or should have been aware.

Yours truly,

Dr Kristine Klugman OAM

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26 Responses to Australia Day Sinnitt award…should it be sinbin award?

  1. Owen Allen says:

    Corrupt cops, Detective Constable Tony Peters and Detective Sergant Michael Dawkins declared war on me. Absolutely my rights were abused.
    I took offense. And rightly or wrongly at a later date, one night I aggravated uniform Tasmanian Police Officers about corruption. They must have called for help in the bake house. Because I waited for them, and started on them again.
    I was arrested, but a suit had turned up and smacked me in the head as I was getting in the police car. I IDENTIFIED him later when he got an arrest warrant on me.
    You deserve it, they say; but I went to Tasmania as a commercial pilot crop dusting and was red necked, and sacked. Trained by the best and RAAF personel, I know the difference between right and wrong in society.

    • Cindy says:

      (Your comment is rejected as your email address could not be validated. If you wish to resend it, please use a valid email address. Moderator.)

  2. Owen Allen says:

    Tasmanians are pathological liars to outsiders.
    No, yes, no yes, no,yes no, this is Tasmania.
    Twice, once by an aquaintance, and by Detective Constable Tony Peters, and Detective Sergeant Michael Dawkins who threatened to arrest me for stalking a stockbroker who had strangled me as a taxi driver, and they protected him. I said Sam Young attacked me in the cab. No he didn’t, yes he did, no he didn’t
    , yes he did, no he did’t
    , yes he did, if I keep talking like that I will arrest you.. I said FUCK OFF and they left, laughing as they drove out the gate.
    I was arrested a couple of days later.

  3. Robert Greenshields says:

    While travelling I recently listened to an ABC broadcast, that included comments from the former Justice of the High Court, Michael Kirby; I was taken by the verbiage he used to describe another nations incapacity to align itself with democratic processes, along with fundamental truth and honesty. Unable to initiate “a neutral and dispassionate investigation of itself”, were his words.
    When combined with the choreographed deceit, brutality and accepted impunity of the Tasmanian Police and judicial services, my thoughts immediately went to Sue Neill Fraser and her welfare, and how interchangeable the Tasmanian administrative and active practices were aligned with so many out of touch, centric valued barbaric opportunists, in petty officialdom, and over riding governing roles.
    The Justices message is available on the net and it was broadcast on the ABC on Wednesday the 2nd of February.
    Maintain the faith Sue, you are not alone.

  4. Owen Allen says:

    May I remind everybody, ex Tasmania Premier Will Hodgeman resigned early and took the position of Ambassador to Singapore.
    Now I connect the dots.
    Justice Alan Blow sentenced Sue Neil_Fraser to 23 years.
    Later Justice Alan Blow became Chief Justice Alan Blow.
    Chief Justice Alan Blow, sentenced a female university student to prison for stealing books. She was from Singapore. Chief Justice Blow and others let drug dealers walk.
    I sent this information with copies to the PM, Leader of Op, every State Premier and Leader of Op, to the Chinese Embassy addressed to President Li Jinping, the DEA from USA in Canberra, and some media in Australia.
    Ex Premier Will Hodgeman gets the Ambassador job to Singapore.
    And we know how he dealt with Robert Richters dossier.
    The Resistance Is, well and truly alive in Australia.

  5. Garry Stannus says:

    I’ve been attempting a close reading of the Etter-Selby papers and in doing so I thought I’d read that Dtv. Sinnitt noticed the difference between his notes of the phone conversation with Lorraine and that of Lorraine’s statement (which was taken by Dtv. Conroy). Whether this is the case or not, Sinnitt did intervene during the trial to ensure that his original notes (a typed version) were disclosed to the prosecution.

    According to the material, Sinnitt emailed Jack Shapiro (appeared with DPP Ellis at Neill-Fraser’s trial). Here is the (redacted) text of that email:

    [Email from TASPOL officer Shane Sinnitt to ODPP lawyer Jack Shapiro and DPP Tim Ellis SC: Subject “SNF” Sent at 6.29 am on Tuesday 5 October 2010]

    Sorry to bother you again but ……..
    … [redactedl
    I have spent time this morning going through all records relating to Lorraine and I believe I have something that may assist us. I’m not sure but I thought that we may be able to get it in through Simons (sic) evidence [this is a reference to Det. Sergeant Simon Conroyl in chief today –
    . Peter lorraine (sic) first called police (RDS) at 2041hrs 27/1/09 after seeing four winds (sic) on the news
    . CACS (RDS) records at the time are as follows “Peter Lorraine (xxxx) saw footage of this Yacht on the evening news and thinks he saw a male person on it yesterday (26/01) at approx. 1530 hours. Not sure if it was the same yacht, this one had a very small yellow dinghy attached astern, may pay to speak with him”
    . The running sheet shows that I called him back re info at 2055hrs that same night
    . I took notes at the time of speaking with him and he says the dinghy was yellow/white and later in the notes -off white/greyish
    . The following day I attached the notes to a duty allocation (No. 23)requesting (sic) someone obtain a stat dec from lorraine (sic).
    . I also printed out the CACS record at 15:17 hrs on 28/11/09 (recorded at top of printout pages) and attached that to the same notes/duty allocation for info of whoever was to take the stat dec
    . Sgt CONROY then received the duty allocation and subsequently took a stat dec from Lorraine 9:50am 31/1/09. At the time he was in possession of the DA, my notes and the CACS records attached to it.

    I don’t know if you think it would be worthwhile, or even if it can be done, but I thought we could get the CACS record and maybe my notes and even the DA which has relevent (sic) info on it, in through Simon as he took the stat dec and had them in his possession to refer to at the time.

    I have copied the DA, CACS record and have typed my notes and attached them for your info. (I hope they are attached!!)

    Please call me on xxxx if any of this long winded email may help
    Leaving aside D.I. Powell’s titular position as head of CIB, D.S. Simon Conroy was the officer basically in charge of the investigation, reporting directly to him. [CT 922] He told the trial court that when he took a statement from Peter Lorraine, Lorraine had told him that the dinghy at the rear of the vessel that he’d observed was whitish cream to yellow.

    Conroy told the court that he neglected to include the colour of the dinghy in the text of the statement that he took from Lorraine. [CT 914 30] He did not inform Mr Ellis of that omission, telling the court it was “An oversight, complete oversight”. [CT 915 29]

    Gunson put to Sinnitt (at trial, CT 804 43) that Lorraine’s account had been of a grey dinghy. Sinnitt had replied that he “wasn’t aware that Mr Lorraine said there was a grey dinghy”. [CT 805 1]

    In the email shown above, Sinnitt notes that by 31Jan2009 – when Conroy took the statement from Lorraine – Conroy was already in possession of the documents printed by him: the DA, his own notes and the CACS record attached to it. As noted above, Conroy was his senior, was in charge of the investigation.

    The WCR article (above) points the finger at Sinnitt and seems to focus on the issue of the mishandling of Lorraine. The article includes excerpts from a CLA
    letter which its President, Dr Kristine Klugman, OAM, has sent to the ‘Official Secretary to the Governor General Honours Secretariat’:

    CLA here serves notice in advance that we will be asking for Det-Sgt Sinnitt’s APM to be revoked, with public announcements by the Governor-General and Honours Secretariat, if the conviction of Neill-Fraser is found, in the High Court or elsewhere in any other formal inquiry, to have been wrongful and/or to have been based in whole or in part on incompetent police investigation, unlawfully withheld or delayed police/prosecution/Crown documents, or Crown misbehaviour of which Det-Sgt Sinnitt was aware, or should have been aware.

    With respect to WCR’s focus on Lorraine in the above article, what is wrong with Sinnitt’s handling of his initial, limited dealings with Lorraine? After all, he spoke to him by phone shortly after Lorraine had rung in, he accessed and saved the CACS record (in which Lorraine had apparently referred to a yellow dinghy), he had put his own notes together with the CACS and had put the matter for follow-up through a duty allocation request. His boss, Dtv Sgt. Conroy, took the statement himself. The shortcomings with the statement are known. Why is the heat not on Conroy who was in charge of the investigation, rather than Sinnitt, whose involvement with the Lorraine side of things was extremely limited?

    Not only that, but we learn from that email that Sinnitt took action before Conroy gave evidence at the trial to ensure that Tim Ellis and Jack Shapiro had those early records which he had collated … before Conroy took the witness stand.

    CLA = Civil Liberties Australia
    IDM = Information Data Management
    AB = Application book
    PIL = Police Investigation Log
    DA = Duty Allocation
    SC = Senior Counsel
    CACS = Command and Control System
    FBR = Forensic Biology Report
    LPB = Legal Practitioners Board
    CT = Court Transcript (Trial/Leave to Appeal Application)

    • Rosemary says:

      Thanks Garry for the more complete picture. Therefore the then DPP Ellis had that full information at hand and chose to keep that detail from the jury and the court. In contradiction to the obligations of the DPP as a model litigant. A blatant, deliberate failure with aim to skew the court against Sue as I see it.

      • Garry Stannus says:

        In the document ‘Crown Failure to Disclose a Critical Handwritten Document‘ (Etter-Selby papers)
        Etter-Selby wrote:
        [18] “Reviewing the transcript of the trial there is nothing to suggest in any of his comments or questions that Ellis SC had any knowledge of these materials that showed that Mr Lorraine did not see the Four Winds, its dinghy, or Bob Chappell. So who was the person or persons who let down their Director, the court, the accused and the notion of a ‘fair trial’ in Tasmania?” [page 8 ]

        Etter Selby wrote:
        [21C] “…The email was cc’ed to the then DPP, Tim Ellis SC, but we have no way of knowing whether either or both got the email, if so when, and did either or both read it)”. [page 9]

        In order of giving evidence:

        Lorraine 28Sept2010 (Tue)
        Sinnitt 30 Sept2010 (Thur) &
        1Oct2010 (Fri)
        Conroy 1Oct2010 (Fri)
        4Oct2010 (Mon)
        [Sinnitt email 5Oct2010 6:29 am (Tue)]
        Conroy 5Oct2010 10:00 am (Tue)

        In XXN by Gunson, Conroy said that when he met Lorraine in Derwent Lane, Lorraine had told him the dinghy he’d seen was “whitish cream to yellow.” Conroy said that he’d neglected to include that in the statement which he’d typed up for Lorraine to sign. Gunson seemed to take that as Conroy having forgotten, as it were, to include it. Later, Conroy did not mention it to Ellis as by then it was ‘too late’.

        Gunson Is there a reason why you didn’t tell Mr Ellis that?
        Conroy ……It was too late.
        Gunson Why was it too late?
        Conroy .……Because the file was submitted and I’ve neglected to tell him.
        [CT 915 1-5]

        So (referring to Sinnitt’s 5Oct2010 email again) a re-read of it shows Sinnitt to have given his boss the relevant documents. However Conroy’s explanation as to why he failed to include the ‘yellow’ dinghy information in the Lorraine statement – and why he did not mention it to Mr Ellis – is not in my view convincing. Etter-Selby seem to think that even though Sinnitt emailed Shapiro and Ellis at 6:29 am on the morning of Conroy giving a third day of evidence, it may have been the case that Ellis was not aware of the ‘yellow dinghy’ matter (the Sinnitt email) when at 10:00 am that morning he began his examination of Conroy.

        He didn’t ask any questions about it, seemingly being more interested in ropes, winches, and burn marks on the hatches. Was this because he was unaware or because he didn’t want Sinnitt’s notes to be made known to the dinghy? However, Mr Gunson, having dealt with the same ropes, winches, hatches, the EPIRB and the bilge pump … asked Conroy about Lorraine’s statement and the colour of the dinghy seen by Lorraine.

        So – in a small way – the yellow dinghy did get before the jury, but certainly Sinnitt’s notes which said that the dinghy was not a Zodiac and did not have a motor did not see the light of day (as far as I recall).

  6. Ben Dean says:

    The meritorious Shane Sinnitt…

    CT p 426. Defence cross examines Andrew Conde. Conde was motoring back to the marina at the Royal Yacht Club with Anne Clarke and her husband, Tom Clarke at 3.55pm Australia Day afternoon. Conde with 20-30 yr of cruising and yacht racing experience gave evidence of seeing a large dark grey rubber dinghy along side the Four Winds, tied on the port side of the Four Winds yacht.

    CT p 805. Defence questions Sinnitt about a big grey dinghy tethered to the Four Wind as described by Mr Conde, at 3.55pm Australia Day.

    Right. Now that witness described a grey dinghy without an
    outboard. Did you make any enquiries to try and find out who might
    have been the owner of that dinghy?….No.
    None at all?….No.
    Didn’t go down to any of the yacht clubs at Marieville Esplanade and
    ask any of the staff down there who operated grey rubber
    None at all?….No.
    Just left it up in the air?…..No. I was – I believed –
    Did you make any enquiries…No.

  7. LB says:

    I really did not think that Tasmania could sink any lower! Reading Commissioner Hine’s forward about the Tas Pol Abacus system he states “ everybody must take responsibility for their mistakes. When mistakes happen it is important to identify, report and rectify them at the earliest opportunity.” and “ the challenging role of policing requires trust”.

    I think “everybody” needs an explanation as to why these standards do not apply in the Susan Neill- Fraser case. Isn’t there an obligation to abide by these standards clearly laid down in Abacus? Where is the Attorney General, the Minister for Police, the Premier, the State Governor to review the clearly documented and serious concerns. The silence is deafening.

  8. Lynn Giddings says:

    I commend Fiona Peate’s letter in the local paper (26.1.22). She refers to “the disappearance of Bob Chappell” and that is a good description when no body has been found. There are some people who suggest Bob Chappell is still alive and could be up a country lane in France enjoying a glass of red.
    While I don’t personally believe he is alive, I am dumbfounded at the prosecutor’s words at the trial in 2010: “the body I suggest would have marks consistent only with being delivered by someone who he knew to be there, who he knew and expected to behind him.” What body? What marks?
    The Susan Neill-Fraser Support Group believed the affidavit of Meaghan Vass was the equivalent of Lindy Chamberlain’s matinee jacket. We were hopeful it would see Sue released.
    At the trial, Sue’s defence counsel requested to have Meaghan Vass recalled. The then prosecutor objected, saying it would be pointless to recall her “for a bit more nasty badgering about where she was on what night.” Not only pointless but unfair. The then prosecutor should read the transcript of Day2 of Sue Neill-Fraser’s second appeal: his successor was tortuous. Many of us wonder if the jury’s verdict might have been “not guilty” had Ms Vass been recalled.
    It should be noted that no money has been paid to Ms Vass by the Support Group. Although there was a bill board offering a reward, no one ever applied and it has since been publicly withdrawn.
    Dr Kristine Klugman OAM comments on the award of a police medal on Australia Day to Detective Sergeant Shane Sinnett who was “an instrumental part of a team” who investigated Bob Chappell’s disappearance. She called it a “jaundiced investigation”, an apt description.
    We urgently need an inquiry with an interstate judge and prosecutor, or a Criminal Cases Review Commission. Too much doubt; too long in prison.

  9. Geraldine Allan says:

    Julie the date is unknown re hearing of leave to appeal.
    The 2012 application that was refused, was somewhere around 7 months after application submitted.

  10. Julie says:

    Why would the Australian Police Medal be awarded to someone whose is mentioned by name in 12 of 34 allegations concerning the Crown, & currently before the Tas Integrity Commission,& in docs tabled in the Tasmanian Parliament’s upper house.

    When is a decision due on SNF’s application for leave to appeal to the High Court, please?

  11. Robin Bowles says:

    WTF??? Sinnit??? 🤬it could only happen in Tasmania!😡

  12. Williambtm says:

    Andrew, there are many unsettling matters circulating through Tasmania’s atmospheres, more so when it engages Tasmania’s Attorney General, Ms Elise Archer.
    That office persists with no acceptance concerning any State matter.
    Be it the absence of a State regulatory authority policing the construction industry, or as a support base for those who have been fleeced.

    Only in Tasmania will you see an approval given for this State’s forest logging arm, Sustainable Timbers Tasmania, (first of all its very name is a misnomer) as the intent to log into Gondwanaland era forested regions and or species, has no connection to sustainability.

    The government in Tasmania has access to more moves than a chessboard when it comes to navigating around accountability.
    I understand that accountability for each and every State of Tasmania blunder is officially banned in this State.

  13. Brian Johnston says:

    What if it aint corruption keeping Sue in gaol.
    What if they actually do believe Sue is guilty.
    There are people out there who still think Milat is guilty.
    It gets crazier. They think Murdoch did Falconio.
    The unusual part of the SNF case is we know who did it.
    The sad part is Elise Archer AG wont help – separation of powers.
    Wimpy Wilkes wont help.
    Playing around with court cases aint working.
    Where to from here?
    Fund raise a civil case.
    Crowd funding. Starting now.

  14. Diane Kemp says:

    Totally agree with Civil Liberties that once Sue is exonerated, then this award needs to be stripped from this police officer. Awarding it to him and identifying Sue’s conviction in that award is yet again another attempt to try to quieten the groundswell about this wrongful conviction. This was a deliberate action which they will come to regret when the award is revoked. Withholding crucial information is a despicable act as are the comments of Sue’s defence counsel – maybe he didn’t want to rock the boat on the false story that had been concocted!!
    Stay strong Sue no matter what they try to continue to do.

    • Geraldine Allan says:

      Di, you write, “ Withholding crucial information is a despicable act …”.
      I say non-disclosure is perverting justice; that is a criminal act.

  15. Keith says:

    The cynic in me suggests that this is just another attempt by the police/DPP/government to try to keep the public duped into thinking this was a safe conviction at a time when the heat is rising on those involved in the corrupt investigation and legal process.
    The AG has used as an excuse not to act on either the 28,000 signature petition or the Etter/Selby papers based on the spurious fact that the matter was before the court. She can no longer claim this although given her form on this matter, it would not surprise if the application to the High Court will be the next excuse.
    We need to continue to bombard her on Facebook Messenger to embarrass her into acting.

    • Rosie says:

      Keith, I received a letter from the Attorney-General on 18 January 2022, as you predicted she stated; “I note Ms Neill-Fraser has recently made application for special leave to appeal her murder conviction in the High Court.
      For these reasons, and whilst legal proceedings are on foot, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on the specifics of Ms Neill-Fraser’s conviction, or engage in any other commentary on the matter.”

      • John Biggs says:

        I had exactly the same reply from AG Archer. This is clearly a case of double standards. The Sinnitt award is obviously part of the counter campaign prior to the High Court Appeal, a move that is denied to Sue’s supporters. Shame!

      • Pauline Chalmers says:

        I believe Elise Archer would greatly benefit from receiving an education pack, to contribute toward her professional development needs, and I speak sincerely saying this, Rosie. If a person knows better they do better!

    • Keith says:

      I too have had a response from the AG, and credit to her for taking the time to reply. She again claimed that the case was before the High Court implying that there was nothing she could do.
      I have a couple of questions that someone with a strong legal background in this area might be able to assist with – hopefully someone looking at this site fits that criteria.
      Firstly, when a request is made to the High Court for a matter to be dealt with by them, does that constitute it being “before the court”?
      Secondly, regardless of whether the matter is before the court or not, does the AG have the power to order a re-trial? If she does, surely that would mitigate the need to go to the High Court?
      Such information would be helpful for when I construct my response to her.

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