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.”
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.”