Retired Hobart police Inspector Peter Powell has come out of the woodwork trying to discredit the 90 page Etter Selby dossier, critical of the 2009 police investigation which he led, into the now controversial case of Sue Neill-Fraser. But his claim of being misquoted in the dossier has been contradicted by the filmed evidence and inadvertently shone the spotlight on what the police knew and didn’t want the court to know.
The Etter Selby dossier was tabled in Parliament on August 31, 2021; Powell’s claim of being misquoted was reported six months later (March 2, 2022) by The Australian’s Hobart reporter Matthew Denholm, who accepted without checking what Powell claimed. But what Powell told filmmaker Eve Ash on camera in 2012 matches the dossier. Indeed, the dossier based its claims on such hard evidence.
The police inspector
Powell’s disclosure in that 2012 interview about police information that then homeless 15 year old Meaghan Vass, was associating with young crims breaking into boats in the Hobart area is at odds with what police witness Detective Sinnitt told the court at the 2010 trial. Vass’ DNA was found on the deck of the Four Winds, where she had witnessed a bloody fight between the late Bob Chappell and her two male associates who had boarded with her, thinking the yacht was unattended, as the dinghy was missing (taken ashore by Chappell’s partner, Neill-Fraser).
Under cross-examination by Neill-Fraser’s defence counsel David Gunson SC, Sinnitt did not reveal any police knowledge of her associating with young crims:
Did you try and look for her associates, any known associates, just tell me ‘yes’ or ‘no’?…….
You didn’t question any associates of hers known to you?…….
All right. Did you check police records to see whether she had what’s colloquially known as ‘associates’?…….
And you couldn’t find anything?…….
The article “Murder dossier was ‘loose with the truth’”, by Denholm on page 3 of The Australian (March 2) raises the question: Why did the retired Powell pop up with this claim six months after the dossier was delivered (and publicised)? The article does not address that question and contains serious inaccuracies; it is misleading, as is the headline, according to filmmaker Eve Ash.
Denholm quotes Powell: “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.” Yet he describes them as ‘offenders’ …
Powell was recorded on camera on June 27, 2012 saying that, “Meaghan Vass had some associations with some young, male offenders, underage offenders, that have been in the past guilty of breaking into boatyards and stealing things off boats.” The recording is clear and it can be heard in the newly released podcast Who Killed Bob (2022).
The Etter Selby dossier states: “…there seems to have been an inadequate canvassing or acquiring of intelligence about the theft of dinghies in the area, about boats that had been unlawfully entered, or broken into, or people trespassing on boats moored off Sandy Bay or Battery Point.”
Powell told Denholm: “I think it important to note that there were no reports of boat burglaries at Sandy Bay for about the three months leading up to the 26 January 2009.” The following examples support the dossier’s criticisms:
- Local yachtie Grant Maddock, in a 2017 affidavit, told of weekly break-ins in the Sandy Bay area in the year before the murder: “In late 2008, early 2009, I was moored off the Royal Yacht Club about 200 metres from the marina. I sometimes also moored at Constitution Dock in the city. The Four Winds yacht was moored about 200 metres off the Battery Point public jetty. Around 2008 to 2009, I would hear of break-ins weekly. It was opportunistic theft from vehicles, boats and yachts, on land and on the water, both in the yacht club yards and in the marinas and moorings. I recall some of the thefts related to all of the dinghy sheds at the Derwent Sailing Squadron sheds over one night.”
- Another local, Stephen Catchpool, who lived closest to the beach and the crime scene, reported his dinghy stolen to detective Shane Sinnitt on January 27, 2009; he says it had happened 7-10 days before (it was left on the beach a day later). He told Tom Percy QC (counsel for Neill-Fraser) at the leave to appeal hearings in 2019 that no statement was taken by police.
- Sandy Bay resident Ted McCulloch reported to police the attempted theft of his boat a couple of days before the Australia Day murder; thieves (possibly interrupted) had left tools and blood stains. The report is listed on the Police Investigation Log of January 29, 2009.
Curiously, the statement of Detective Sergeant Conroy, dated November 13, 2009, says: “Police records do not indicate any break-ins on boats in the area around this time or in months previously.”
The headline assertion that the dossier was “loose with the truth” is ironically wrong and the suggestion that Powell has quashed a key claim in the dossier is wishful thinking.
The police knowledge of Meaghan Vass associating with young male offenders known to steal from boats was not made available to the defence, denying the jury a chance to consider alternative possibilities consistent with the innocence of the accused. The presence of Vass on the yacht indicates the involvement of other persons in the murder and excludes Sue Neill-Fraser, as Vass has testified.
Speaking of the March 2 article, Ash says: “The dossier claims that 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.” Powell said he suggested to Ash that Ms Vass’s DNA may have been deposited on the yacht, the Four Winds, after the murder, when it was stored in a dry dock in Hobart’s north. The prosecution has always dismissed the DNA as a ‘red herring’.
“If Mr Powell’s personal theory that Ms Vass’ DNA way have been deposited on the yacht after the murder is to be reported in a reliable newspaper, he must be asked to provide a rational explanation for Ms Vass later inserting herself into the case as an eye witness to the murder on the yacht, at considerable risk to herself and at considerable inconvenience – for no gain whatever,” says Ash.
After Ash complained, Denholm wrote a follow up article (Cop, filmmaker spar over yacht murder audio, March 26, 2022), which defended Powell, who “cast doubt on whether he was correctly quoted in the dossier and insisted the comments were in the context of break-ins at a northern suburbs dry dock where the yacht was kept days after the murder.”
Denholm wrote: “Provided with Ms Ash’s audio grab, Mr Powell told The Weekend Australian: “Having done hundreds of media interviews over the years, I have been the victim of selective or edited reporting on several occasions.”
Ash commented: “I am furious that Powell has used Denholm and The Australian as a megaphone to mislead the public, even after I complained.”
This is the latest bizarre development following the 2010 conviction of Sue Neill-Fraser, which Tasmania’s legal establishment is determined to protect – but which Neill-Fraser hopes the High Court will overturn, if it grants her leave to appeal.
“Lies don’t usually outlast the truth…” – Anonymous
When Colin McLaren interviewed Peter Powell on TV in Undercurrent, Powell seemed to me to listen intently to Colin, and to almost realise that a monumental stuff-up had been accidentally done in the Sue Neill Fraser case. In my opinion, Powell came across quite well, as being amiable and pleasant, but perhaps too entrenched in the system and not quite smart enough to see that a series of errors had definitely been made, and that rectification would be better sooner rather than later.
I think some of the criticism of Powell on this website is a bit much. In my opinion Powell was merely one cog in a chaotic series of errors by a large number of Tasmanians who have not done their research on how to avoid accidentally creating miscarriages of justice.
I would recommend to Peter Powell that he reads the book “Convicting the Innocent: Where Criminal Prosecutions Go Wrong” by Brandon Garrett. I think he would find the content eye-opening. I wouldn’t recommend the book to some of the other less open-minded people involved in Sue’s prosecution. Alas, no Tasmanian libraries currently have the book, according to the trove.nla website – I guess the topic is too mainland to be in their libraries. He could borrow the book from the State Library of Victoria or from me or buy it himself.
Recalling that Powell had said in the Shadow of Doubt interview that Meaghan had associates who broke into boats … we wonder why Sinnitt gave evidence (at the leave application hearings – see p417) that he could find no link between Meaghan and any boat crime.
At the very least we have to ask, does Powell’s statement mean that:
-he knew something that Sinnitt didn’t know
-that Sinnitt was hiding something / gave false evidence
-that Powell (in the interview) was just waffling or loose with his words -maybe even just trying to be amenable?
Certainly Powell’s subsequent ‘quoted out of context‘ objections don’t ring true to me. Gees, if he truly believes that he was quoted ‘out of context’ then he’s in denial. Is he lying to himself? I don’t know how a person can lie to themself … I don’t know how such a thing can be done. Surely [cognitive dissonance] the person knows that certain matters are logically/factually irreconcilable … e.g. Eve was asking if Meaghan had associates who broke into boats and Powell answers ‘Yes’ but later says that his ‘Yes’ was only in the context of breakins at Goodwood.
Sometimes you have to own your own behaviour and words. Powell did say that Meaghan had associates who broke into boats. He did not say that Meaghan had associates who only broke into boats at Goodwood.
I wonder if Powell’s then position of Detective Inspector is a good example of the ‘Peter Principle‘ … that is, [Wikipedia]: people in a hierarchy tend to rise to “a level of respective incompetence”: employees are promoted based on their success in previous jobs until they reach a level at which they are no longer competent, as skills in one job do not necessarily translate to another.
I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, Garry.
“I was delighted to officially open the new Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) and Fuel Storage Shed at the Sandy Bay Sailing Club funded by my ‘Local Communities Facilities Fund’ election commitment.”
So said Attorney General Elise Archer recently. Oh how she must have squirmed being down in the area where the Sue Neill Fraser stitch up began, the stitch up that she has the power to correct but fails to.
Had this facility been about in 2009, maybe the dinghy used by the culprits in this case would have been secured.
I am f mad. They sent me mad. We, as civilians have to put up with this bull shit.
I am asking for hackers, to redirect a nuke missile from ;
I am speaking for Jonah aka Owen. Read Jonah, GODS WORD.
Jonah 3:10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that HE had said HE would bring upon them. And HE did not do it.
Jonah was pissed off, and I want to see Tasmania nuked, you God Damn Mother Fuckers. Please print this. It is My Truth against Liars and Corrupt Fuckers, I can not express myself any more than this. AMEN.
Feal the Fear, and do it anyway. Fear is the Enemy. And Love your Brother. Who is my brother? Sue Neill-Fraser is my sister, and a widow, God Bless her and her family, grandchildren who will be permanently traumatised and distraught all their lives, thank you Tasmania. Come on down Scomo and check it out, you pi–
Perhaps Mr Powell can re acquaint himself and refresh his memory by watching and listening to himself on the said documentary ?! As far as any alleged non disclosure, why has this not been independently investigated? With regard to journalists, whatever happened to fact checking!? Whilst all this trivia is being tossed about it forms a convenient, possibly calculated, distraction to the real issue, that Sue Neill – Fraser remains in prison for murder despite there being no body, no weapon, no motive. And alarmingly the Premier is recently reported as saying there are no issues regarding integrity or corruption in Tasmania!
It has been investigated – the results are contained in the 90 page Etter Selby dossier delivered to the AG and tabled in Parliament. But as you know, you can lead a horse to water ….
Hi Andrew, Yes I too am familiar with the philosophical concept of that of which you speak but would apply a little bit of practicality.
If said horse is clearly thirsty (and therefore in actual need of a drink) but is being too stubborn for its own good or too cantankerous to do as it’s master (figuratively-the people) asks, The only reasonable solution is to either drown or shoot the stupid bastard to save a precious resource. As an alternative you could shove an electrical cord up it’s arse and plug it into the Hydro-power point (thereby making “Clean- Green” use of the resource and not “wasting” water…
I am hopeful that you can follow my philosophical train of thought through the dark tunnel “Toot-Toot” Russ
Obviously this is the greatest frame and cover-up job of all time and a disgrace to Tasmanians. As for Inspector Peter Powell (ret’d) if I had any power in this case I would be having a good look at his part in it and that of his associates. I have followed the case for years and it is obvious to me that the Police, Judiciary and Parliament are all covering for somebody who must be a superior power. As an ex-Tasmanian I am disgusted that the residents of the state are allowing this injustice to roll on. Where are the protestors? Where are the local petitions? Why is it that local members of Parliament state and federal, are not being pressured to stand- up?
Ian, here in Tassie there are supporters – and active supporters. Please don’t assume that all Tasmanians are complicit in what has taken place. We’ve been trying our damnedest for years, while Sue has been in jail. Here (just lying by my arm, is a letter from Sue and I’ll paste one paragraph from it:
In court today was Jeff – a local lawyer now after several years still facing what seem like spurious charges … so-called ‘pervert justice’. We Tasmanians have attended court on his behalf – to support him. And now also the news of another Tasmanian legal hunted to the extreme – we are fighting for that person too. We have been fighting on and on for justice for Sue … but increasingly it has become a wider conflict. The now-many who have been pursued by police, the courts and by the LPBT.
On behalf of Tasmanians, Ian, I ask you and other similar commenters, not to accuse all of us in Tasmania. Work for us! Work for Sue’s release and vindication.
I’m writing like this to you, because I want people to know that we are not ‘all like that’ … down here. Of course, it’s all summed up in Colin McLaren’s book: Southern Justice. The title? A gratuitous reference to the horrors of the American ‘deep south’… in my opinion.
I’m not rejecting the criticisms of the Tasmanian Police nor those against the ODPP, but I do feel sometimes that such criticism of the Tasmanian system is analogous to
that of the ‘pot calling the kettle black’. We other Tasmanians have been working hard – every day of our lives – to support Sue and redress her matters.
Please, Ian, no more of that ‘disgrace to Tasmanians’ stuff. Generalisations tend to whitewash over the particular. The particulars are in the deficiencies of the police investigation, in the then cock-eyed management of the trial by our now chief justice and the ongoing harassment of pro-defence witnesses, pro-defence legals and investigators.
It is a group (cops, legals, prejudiced others and apathetics) within Tasmania who aid the continuing injustice. Cut us some slack … other Tasmanians (legals, ex-cops, those who want to be fair minded, those who have seen what has transpired) are to be honored. We are supporting Susan Neill-Fraser’s right to a fair trial every day of our lives.
Great work, stay strong, I was forced to leave Tasmania by threat of re incarceration and corrupt crap . I know all about Tasmania, we just need more local support. But I realise the numbers of civil servants per capita, and any civil servant that speaks out well say no more they are done dogs. Now we need an absolute trusted org for Tasmanian civil servants that want too, but are afraid to speak out, blow their whistle. This org is excellent, confidential, and just. Anybody genuine and honest will get a space anonymously if they choose.
I put up my full name because I have been in war for 31 yea rs. Tasmania is looking at civil war. Nothing less, the corruption is so bad.
Thank you Garry for declaring the unjust persecution happenings on ‘decent honourable innocent persons.’ The right to Justice must be a given. Injustice does not sits well with innocence. Blatantly Tasmania Police/DPP(S) Justice Dept Judiciary and two many Politicians are not for Justice. They are the corrupters and corruption of this elk, plying deceit and rottenness on persons..Especially of late upon those willing to expose their corruptive dirtiness.. Real fighters for right! Good people – decent honourable people; wishing to righteously right to the law. Setting too rights broken lives of injustice.
Martin Luther King Jnr,
Injustice anywhere is a threat to injustice everywhere.
I have only recently become aware of the SN-F case, during my investigation of family history on the island State. Peter Powell is a British immigrant who is on form targeting a person he clearly held a VERY prejudicial view toward, and his tunnel vision has created this gross miscarriage of justice, as happened frequently in the past, but the victims then were aboriginals. He is the one who should be viewing the world from behind bars, for his slanderous conduct, but it didn’t happen then, and it won’t happen now, because of their law enforcement’s habituated tendencies, to cover up any malpractice persists into 2022.
In some cases Pauline, immigrants to Tasmania fit in very well to the Regime. I have evidence against Scotsman and no proof of New Zealander. I am a New Zealander and he just slipped right in to the local scene.
Yet and Englishman was contracted to head a Tasmanian Department and was white anted, with no support from the employer. TASMANIA GOV, and I know of other cases from interstate, contractors at the highest level of Governance under the Tasmanian Gov, no support.
Owen, please be very f@ck#ng careful of what you put in writing on open forums such as this, Bro. Your ol’ buddy Sco-mo has already put in place the federal laws to arrest you, to detain you without charge, (the act of calling for a nuke strike is, in itself, considered “Terrorism”) to hold you indefinitely without further trial (as you are (in the view of the “authorities”) deemed to be a risk to public order and safety, cancel your visa on “Character test grounds” and deport you back to New Zealand (never to return), or perhaps hand you over to the CIA as an “International Terrorist – calling for the overthrow of the government (Federal, State or Local, as requires) when in reality all you seek is social and legal justice and an end to the rule of corruption. If Julian Assange is worried about the intentions of the US “Justice” system (and the craven cowards administrating “British Justice” and holding his fate in their hands) then I feel that it is CERTAINLY NOT beyond the realms of possibility that he may find himself with a Kiwi neighbour. If you doubt that our political mates (and their “allies”) would consider the above actions worth avoiding “Justice” themselves, I would remind you that many a “Crazy person” has stepped out in the path of a train or “ended their own life” with the authorities stating in their “”Brief” (Statement of FACTS) to the NSW Coroner that there were “NO SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES” involved. This is not a lie! It was not “suspicious” because the “Police” themselves already knew EXACTLY what had happened… they were involved!!! It happened to an associate of mine and I KNOW it did. (I was told by Police that I would be the next to “Jump under a train” and written up in confidential case files as being “Suicidal” by corrupt police who had just “fixed another problem”. Take my advise Mate, Kempsey is not a place for us to visit either, and I will NOT be going back unarmed.
While it may risk lives at our level I am reminded of a few famous quotes which I feel exemplify the situation;
“When Tyranny becomes Law, Rebellion becomes Duty”- Thomas Jefferson: 1773 (US founding father-President).
“The main problem is TOO MANY Bastards and Not ENOUGH fucking BULLETS!”- Fidel Castro: 1961 (Cuban freedom fighter-President)
“Just as an army marches on it’s stomach, Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun” Mao Tse Tung: 1936 (Chinese freedom fighter- CCP President)
“Our Duty is to hold ourselves responsible to the people,every word, every act and every policy must conform to the people’s interests, and if mistakes occur, they must be corrected- That is what ‘being responsible to the people’ means” Mao Tse Tung: August 13 1945 (Chinese freedom fighter-CCP President, Chairman-People’s Republic of China)
“I am saddened to say that the passage of time does not seem to improve the situation” Lachlan Macquarie: 1795 (Colonial Govenor NSW)-in relation to the aboriginal people
Thanks Russell, very much. It is the nicest thing anybody has said to me. I am finding my family with WC. Sisters and Brothers from other Mothers.
I will be sent home one day, to either NZ by jet, or Heaven by a Golden BB perhaps in the forehead, or run down on the road whilst riding the Fatty, or shot like Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda, or I might die of natural causes in bed or in the mountains. Life and Death, we are born and we die. But, life is forever, Heaven or Hell, that is my belief. Therefore, my Tasmania Experience is my contribution to living my belief, I had no choice, and it has been amazing so far but very painfull. But I am being rewarded now, for never giving up, because I have found like minded people, family, thank you everyone who has supported me and offered me advice, and this is about Justice for Sue Neill-Fraser and all Australians or residents, tourists and students. GOD BLESS.
Maybe The Australian should complete some fact checking prior to taking on this case. It would be prudent of them to investigate the whole case then write about that. Maybe justice might be a little quicker than “snails pace”. How could anyone honestly even believe she could’ve done this anyway is beyond me without even checking all of the facts. What did she have to gain when she had a partner and her life to lose.
The Australian have in fact published two major articles on the Sue Neill-Fraser case a few years ago – both written by me.
Must have been unbiased then! Peter Powell has always been very open in his interviews with me over the years. He has never denied that young people were known to have been stealing from boats. It was common knowledge and documented in the police incident reports of that period obtained by Barbara Etter under RTI( as a former top cop she knew what documents to ask for) and outlined in the Etter Selby papers. Anyone who has any doubt that police knew about these breakinsshould download the papers ( available on line) and see for yourself. I was told about Meagan Vass and her boyfriend and another man going out to the Four Winds to rob the boat in good time to include the information in my book ( Death on the Derwent) which came out 3 years ago. Yet the DPP, when he was ‘shredding’ poor Meaghan under cross examination at Sue’s last speak, put to her that she’d made the whole story up for 60 Minutes. Rubbish! Those who should be in trial here are the people with power and influence who are terrified of the SNF case being proved to be the crock Of shit it is and then a) getting the blame for it and b) having to pay compensation. One of the witnesses in this case, when being hounded by Sinnitt and Hart during numerous interviews, was told ‘if Neill Fraser gets out it will have cost the state $20m. We don’t care about you. You are just Collateral Damage’. And I’d like to see them deny that. I have the transcript of that interview and so does that witness’s lawyer. The police have got away with too much in this story. Anyone who takes them on, Eve, Jeff, Barbara, Karen, Meaghan. Etc gets crucified.
From day one, I remember on the evening news Detective Inspector Powell commenting that Susan Neill-Fraser seemed more interested in “the property than the person” meaning the yacht, rather than Bob Chappell. I believe he was locked in class warfare with Neill-Fraser. He constantly referred to her as Sue Fraser, as though he would choke on a hyphenated name, i.e. Neill-Fraser.
What “they say” is not worth a pinch of sh–. Take my word for it Lynn.
My life has been Tasmania v Owen since 90/91.
I have learnt a lot. Maybe a PhD from University of Hard Knocks Tasmania.
From my experience, they do lie, all of them when against the wall to protect one another. Like Tasmanians ultimate sin, is giving up another Tasmanian against an outsider. An outsider is anybody not connected to the inside. The Mafia, the Facelessmen, The Amnesia Club. But they also collude against an outsider in business, and fleece them with cronyistic protection. They collude against a contracted person from interstate to head the department and they “white ant them”. When will Tasmania face up to the fact they Love and Obey the DEVIL. Their is no goodwill to fellow man to outsiders into Tasmania; go to Whistleblowers Tasmania and burr up here if you refute what I state. But I do realise what happens to people who resist. We are now with you to help you. Fear No More, we are many, and we are strong. I am covered. Chow.
Hi Owen, I must apologise for being just a tad ‘anally retentive’ but feel the need to inform you that the term “Chow” (your salutation from your writing of 27 March) is somewhat mis-spelt, it should be “Ciao!”.
Now that I have cleared that minor point I must say that it would appear that the state of justice (and respect for the rule of law) currently on display in the “Tassie Triangle” (please see attached map in Penthouse) is nothing short of frightening. Even now that a coronial inquest has declared that Lucille Butterworth was MURDERED by an albino psychopath (who shall remain nameless) in 1969 and a considerable brief of evidence has now been submitted to the inquiry the DPP has categorically stated that no case is ongoing nor will anyone be charged over her disappearance despite the person of interest (a convicted murderer) being named as ‘responsible’ by the Coroner. Just another case of “Who you Know” nepotism and corruption, police malpractice and ineptitude. Nae they far outweigh the label of inept, they are not stupid, they KNOW what they do is WRONG! when the COPS bring a case to court they refer to their version of events as “A statement of FACTS” no matter how FACTUAL or OTHERWISE said “FACTS” may be….
Who investigates the cops? Oh, that’s right… THE COPS DO!!!!!
What a bloody joke!
“Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”
Thanks for the correction Russell. Yes, I agree and that brings fear on me; what I may have to do as a volunteer to bring on change, and Justice. I can not stop, otherwise I am guilty with them. I have it figured out, but just have to implement the plans.
Yeah. Ciao. Owen
Great work guys, I know you will NEVER GIVE UP, and I will be backing you up, or taking the lead if that is what is required; I tell you the Truth, this arvo I was combing through my stuff and relocated evidence I had forgotten about. Good stuff for a Royal Commission into Corruption in Tasmania Legal System, Police, Prison, Bureaucrats etc. We went through HELL for years because their cronyism and corruption is so strong, the bastards would not even clamp down on a semi starting, pumping, warming and pulling out a load at 4.00 regurlarly, and never after 7.00 am, and after years it moved to the other end of town and 7.00am starts were too early and people complained. I am not whingeing about a noisy truck, I am exposing the corruption, cronyism and nepotism, which endorsed the local thugs to years of property damage, threats and intimidation. HELL IN TASMANIA.
Bring on the Federal Royal Commission Tasmania, National Criminal Case Review Commission, and RELEASE SUE NEILL-FRASER, NOW.