Former Hobart police inspector’s newspaper claim contradicted by evidence

Andrew L. Urban

A claim reported in The Australian (March 2, 2022) that “The policeman in charge of the Susan Neill-Fraser murder ­investigation has quashed a key claim used to justify calls for a royal commission-style inquiry,” is contradicted by evidence. 

In the article, retired inspector Peter Powell claims “I may have indicated that Vass being a young homeless girl was associating with young male offenders,” he said. “I do not believe I ever said they were known to have or been guilty of breaking into boats.”

Det Insp Peter Powell (rtrd)

But his claim is contradicted by the evidence in the transcript of the June 2012 interview with Eve Ash as used in the film, Shadow of Doubt:

“…And certainly she (Meaghan Vass) had some associations with some young… ah … male offenders, under-age offenders that have been in the past guilty of breaking into boatyards and stealing things off boats.”

Hobart reporter Matthew Denholm writes: “Retired detective inspector Peter Powell told The Australian he believed claims in a dossier ­tabled in state parliament to justify a commission of inquiry had “selectively misquoted” him and were “loose with the truth”.

The dossier by lawyers Barbara Etter and Hugh Selby, relies on an interview between Mr Powell and filmmaker Eve Ash in June 2012 to accuse police of “poor investigation and non­disclosure”.

It quotes Mr Powell saying homeless girl Meaghan Elisabeth Vass, whose DNA was found on the yacht from which victim Bob Chappell dis­appeared, was an associate of ­offenders with a history of “breaking into boat yards and stealing things off boats”.

The dossier claims: “The significance of this unguarded comment post-the 2010 trial (of Neill-Fraser, found guilty of Chappell’s murder) is that police never disclosed this information to the crown, and hence the defence too did not know about it.”

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16 Responses to Former Hobart police inspector’s newspaper claim contradicted by evidence

  1. Raquel morton says:

    This man is a total sham and every case he was involved in should be reviewed.
    What a narrow minded evil twisted person that could twist the truth and lock away such a beautiful woman.
    If only police could be found responsible for locking innocent people away and serve time as they did.
    Shame on him and the Tasmanian police and legal system!!!

  2. Karina says:


  3. Owen allen says:

    Hey Whalensky, also there is a petition at change, org with Eve Ash film maker and a leader of Resistance for Justice Australia, which is not an org, yet, maybe, I just invented it. Contact your brothers and sisters and sign the petition if you agree. Owen. Any org has to be legit and legally clean.

  4. Robert Greenshields says:

    Lose with the truth? How about lose with perceived legitimacy, and delusions of pomp, professional integrity, and self determined magnificence?

    Given the Oz wide incredible history of many time servers, who have been in house promoted to positions within the historical, echelon based in house rank structure, that in turn seemingly far out ways their professionalism, and or limited education and capabilities, it is I concur, high time citizens across our nation refused to align any thoughts of adequate respectability to such inglorious incompetents, and deceitful liars.

    It is well known and accepted, that a first year apprentice in private industry, and then a qualified tradesperson, is of far more benefit from day one, to all Oz other citizens (until the day they eventually retire), than the venal, compliant cowardly, in house promoted public servants in our state and federal, so called emergency services.

    Believing, or accepting as ex cathedra that a specified in house rank authenticates credibility and or professionalism, is a fundamental misnomer, and to claim rank infers, skill, integrity and morality, is as absurd as the machinations within most media outlets that hail many who utilise the pitiable procession as warranted heroes.

    One factor is openly transparent in Sue Neill Frasers case, and that is there are no in house rank inspiring heroes, in either the Tasmanian Policing Force, the Tasmanian Judicial Administration, or seemingly within the Tasmanian Government. Toadying, cowardly conformists, and deceitful manipulators and liars yes, but not an ounce of intestinal fortitude, morality or reliable honesty within cooee, on the Apple Isle it seems.

    • WHALENSKY says:

      Robert– your last sentence describes accurately every Police and Justice Outfit in Australia–( and possibly most of the world) Which mob of Hot Shots in which States have behaved in an ethical manner ? –Queensland Heroes just recently cost Queensland Taxpayers $30 million for their behaviour on Palm Is. The Lindt Cafe incompetent little show was an absolute cowardly disgrace- – straying the area with military style weapons–the result was predictable–main thing is no hero was I danger ! DO YOURSELF A FAVOUR—READ AND READ AND READ– THEN claim that the Dear Little Tassie Apples of all branches of politics/ law / justice / journalism etc. are some how unique in their Vomit inducing– behavior . Where would you like to start your reading ? British Justice and the IRISH–In one case eg. the jury was said to not believe that 6 lovely little policey men would lie under oath– the jury should have been pre trial warned that the police will lie their guts out as suits their superiors– no future if you don’t !

    • WHALENSKY says:

      Spose I should keep out of Tasmania (as a tourist) Since the islands justice system is so rotten– thought it was only the apples ! 🍎. However since my home state is rotten bananas– I’ll just have to hide under my bed !

    • WHALENSKY says:

      Why do disdain my comments–not that bad surely ?

  5. Robin Bowles says:

    How come EVERYBODY knew boats were being broken into EXCEPT the Hobart police?? Even homeless people all along the waterfront, who didn’t even have a mobile phone?? ‘Not disclosed’ to the defence is a sloppy excuse—why didn’t Sue’s defence get onto it? They should have made it their business to make sure the police knew! Sue would have told him. Sad thing is, they DID NOT BELIEVE THEIR OWN CLIENT! I fear that excuse made by Sue’s defence extends beyond the boat invasion info. Such a cluster f**k, the whole trial and since!!

    • Brian Johnston says:

      The defence should not have put themselves into the position of believing or determining whether their client was guilty or not.
      They cannot ask the client guilt or innocent, they cannot trust the reply.
      They weren’t there so they don’t know.

      It is the role of the God-damned defence to force the prosecution into proving their case. The defence were irresponsible and grossly misrepresented their client. The defence ought to be liable for Sue’s conviction.

      The only way to win this case is crowd funding and a civil action.

  6. Geraldine Allan says:

    For starters, rhetorical question: – why is The Australian’s Matt Denholm acting as spokesperson for Peter Powell?

    The now retired investigation OIC, Peter Powell was and remains free to directly challenge/question the authors of ETTER/SELBY papers, disputing the claims. Yet has he? Not to my knowledge.

    This grubby third estate campaign seems to me to be underhand and spurious. It’s not the journalist’s first attempt to throw adversity on the SNF matters.

  7. LB says:

    I cannot believe what I am reading. Perhaps early or earlier retirement would benefit more people!

    • WHALENSKY says:

      Now that I have ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE– I’ll soon retire from the PLANET ! I’LL BE LOOKIN DOWN with particular interest at The Australian Justice System ! How will I resist the temptation–zap a few swine ?

      • Owen allen says:

        I get your drift Whalensky, I am only a young man over 60, getting younger every year. Been in the Tasmanian War for 31 years, I can forgive, but I can not forgive and forget. Political and police corruption can not be forgotten about with heads buried in the sand. To ignore evil is to become an accomplice to it. Dr Martin Luther King Jnr. Thanks for coming on board. This blog operates totally up front and legitimate. I have found that out and have respect for the moderator etc. Justice in Tasmania and Australia totally is the objective, but corruption is the prevention of justice, as we all know. We just need numbers of resistance to awaken them up. Owen.

        • WHALENSKY says:

          YOU OWEN are only a whipper snipper– us old blokes can teach you a thing or two about the satisfaction of revenge–
          We’ve had more of it and will get more. When looking down with PETE at our side. If these mongrels think they is going to HEAVEN– NOT when I’m on gate duty ! SNF will go to HEAVEN–The swine that put her in prison will GO TO HELL !

  8. Diane Kemp says:

    Matthew Denholm needs to ensure his story is correct before it goes to print. Clear evidence in transcript of Powell’s interview with Eve Ash – why deny he said it??? Clearly this is yet again another attempt to discredit those who have uncovered the truth and shame on the Australian for allowing themselves to be used in this manner. Reporter bias is clearly in place here. We still have not heard how Mr Denholm was provided with supposedly information about this case and published it while the appeal is before the court. More red herrings to attempt to muddy the water. Those involved appear to be very worried about what the High Court may decide.
    It is time to allow justice and truth to finally free Sue from this corrupt system.

    • Keith says:

      It’s only before the court if you are the Attorney General. Perhaps Mr. Denham could ask her what her legal advice is to come to that conclusion.

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