Jeff Thompson case finally nolle prosequi

The controversial, five year old charge of perverting justice against Hobart solicitor Jeff Thompson was dropped (nolle prosequi) today before Justice Brett in Hobart’s Supreme Court. Thompson was one of the figures in the long running saga of the Sue Neill-Fraser case, which goes to the High Court four days after this decision, seeking leave to appeal. 

A detailed judgement will be issued over the next few days by Justice Brett.

(Nolle prosequi is usually used when there is insufficient evidence to ensure successful prosecution.)

Prosecutors had accused Mr Thompson of attempting to influence a potential witness to identify a person from a photo array in June 2017. He was also accused of preparing a document outlining the evidence he would or could give for Neill-Fraser’s appeal, relating to the witness’ identification from the photo array.

In April 2017, when filming the Channel 7 doco series Undercurrent, Jeff witnessed Meaghan Vass sign a statement that she was on the yacht with two other males the night Bob Chappell went missing. Four months later, Jeff was raided, then arrested by TasPol. The film crew was targeted, phones tapped, film footage seized, warrants for bank records. “Now Undercurrent TV series will air on Channel 7, 10.40pm Sunday 14 August for all Australia to see, including Tasmania,” says the producer/presenter Eve Ash.

David Edwardson QC comments (see below):
Frank Merenda (my Junior counsel) together with John Munro (instructing solicitor) and I have been fighting this case now for some years. Finally when the Judgements are published everyone will appreciate how misconceived this prosecution was and why the conduct of TASPOL in the context of this case is so reprehensible. Every now and again there is a case which is so important and this is one of them. Jeff Thompson was just trying to help fight for Sue Neil Fraser’s freedom. In return, his life and career was turned upside down by illegal conduct the details of which will be published in due course. Today is a very important day not just for Jeff Thompson.

As reported in The Mercury, August 9, 2022

This entry was posted in Case 01 Sue Neill-Fraser. Bookmark the permalink.

59 Responses to Jeff Thompson case finally nolle prosequi

  1. edgar says:

    [REJECTED – your email could not be verified.]

  2. dieter says:

    if not guilty why did she lie change her story etc??? the golden rule NEVER TALK TO POLICE and gaol would not have happened only after bobs rbf anyway!!!!

  3. John S says:

    Just sad that Justice has become a lottery of whether or not one get’s fair-minded and diligent investigation, or something made up to suit the outcome they presume!

    I’m thinking of moving to Asia, doubt the law’s any different there these days! We’re becoming a very uneven & unfair society here in Australia, so may as well go to Asia! At least they’re improving!

  4. Julie says:

    Jeff Thompson deserves proper compensation.

    • Geraldine Allan says:

      after a public apology

    • Helen says:

      Jeff at this time with his family needs to just get “his wind back” then as the saying goes “Dont get angry, get even”. Patience is a virtue. He was such an outstanding educated man biding his time with having achieved a Masters of Law at ANU one of the top unis his education was certainly a sore point with the low intellect of the Taspol. There are only a few Taspol who have degrees.

      May Jeff and his family keep well and enjoy life up north and enjoy some of the beautiful markets.

  5. Garry Stannus says:

    I’ve read Justice Brett’s decision not to admit the recordings of the prison conversation between Jeff Thompson and Steve Gleeson.  He relied on the three sub-sections of:  s  138 of the Evidence Act 2001.

    Sub section (1) reads:

    138.   Discretion to exclude evidence improperly or illegally obtained
    (1)  Evidence that was obtained –
    (a) improperly or in contravention of an Australian law; or
    (b) in consequence of an impropriety or of a contravention of an Australian law –
    is not to be admitted unless the desirability of admitting the evidence outweighs the undesirability of admitting evidence that has been obtained in the way in which the evidence was obtained.

    In a nutshell, the recordings of the Jeff Thompson’s meeting with Steve Gleeson were ruled inadmissible because the surveillance equipment was left running for over a month … and thus potentially infringed on the privacy of others who (subsequently) used the room.

    Thus, as I understand Brett’s earlier (March 2022) decision, the warrant issued to police to bug the prison room where Thompson met Gleeson was invalid

    Thus, the evidence from the recordings had not been legally obtained.

    Thus the evidence from the recordings could not be admitted unless Brett used a discretion available in s 138.

    The discretion can be exercised if “…the desirability of admitting the evidence outweighs the undesirability of admitting evidence that has been obtained in the way in which the evidence was obtained.”

    Effectively, Brett J found (June 2022) that the desirability of admitting evidence obtained by the use of an invalid warrant did not outweigh the undesirability of admitting the recordings which had been obtained on an invalid warrant.

    That is my take on Justice Brett’s ruling. He had ruled [] that the audio and audio-video recordings of Jeff Thompson’s meeting with Steven Gleeson in Risdon Jail were not admissible.

    This might be the reason that the Crown told the Court recently that it would not be seeking to continue to trial.

    It seems that the case against Jeff Thompson was abandoned because of a police/prosecution’s ‘own goal‘.

    Even so, Jeff would not have been convicted had the recordings been admitted and had the ‘pervert justice’ charges gone to a trial jury. 

    Having viewed (at court) the covert recordings and having reviewed relevant documentation, it seems clear to me that Jeff did not try and manipulate Gleeson into an improper identification from the photo-boards.  I recall that Gleeson did (unprompted) actually make such an offer and that Jeff declined it.

    In my view, there was no evidence at all on which a jury could have convicted Jeff. If the matter had gone before a jury, I would have expected – based on the facts (whether admissible or not) – a ‘not guilty’ verdict. The whole matter should never have gone this far … years of an innocent man’s life.

    Why isn’t the Tasmanian Law Society railing against this and why is it not supporting Jeff?

  6. Geraldine Allan says:

    As a refresher for those who still after 5 horrifically cruel years, are scratching their heads:-

  7. Geraldine Allan says:

    These trumped up proceedings against Jeff Thompson have not only involved massive $$$expenditure, which is yet to be assessed, by the accused himself; the taxpayers of Tasmania have also borne the TASPOL and ODPP prosecution costs

    Importantly, considerable (yet unknown) resources of Tasmanian taxpayers have been improperly wasted.

    Also, this horrific matter has diverted court time and costs over 5+ years.

    Meanwhile, the Tasmanian Supreme Court has a backlog and has been prevented from resolving cases of real importance; persons who have a pressing need to litigate and those charged with most serious crimes have been waiting in the queue. Elected representatives, please ask question as is your duty to those who elected you.

  8. Garry Stannus says:

    So, here we are at ‘D Day’.

    Was Estcourt J correct in dissenting and in finding the evidence of Maxwell Jones (author of Vic Police Forensic Report) to be fresh and compelling?

    Jones’s report was an impetus to the 2017? application for a second appeal to the Supreme Court of Tas. His evidence at the subsequent (failed second appeal) was that:

    “On face value” ‘you’d think that [it – the Vass deposit] had been a primary sample, but [he couldn’t] entirely rule out secondary, but it would require an entirely specific set of circumstances’…


    “ you would expect quite significant degradation after say, seven days. So it gets into that grey area of say three to four days, whether or not biological material would survive in such a quality as – as shown by the DNA profile produced from it.”


    “ I would be tending towards a shorter time, if – and I can’t say that that’s two days or three days, but the longer you go on, say up to the four days, the more original biological material that must have been there on the deck in the first place.”

    D Day. If the HCA rules out the leave application, then it becomes even darker times for Sue and her family. If the court accepts the appellant’s application for an appeal to the HCA, I would expect the future results could include:

    1. The appeal to the HCA could fail.

    2. The appeal to the HCA could be allowed.

    if allowed,

    3(i). If an appeal to the HCA were to be successful, there might be a retrial, in which case, Sue would not be found ‘guilty beyond reasonable doubt’. That is, a jury would find her ‘not guilty’.


    3(ii). The Crown would choose not to proceed to a second trial. The Crown did this in those spurious ‘Pervert Justice’ charges … the charges against Karen Keefe were dropped … and just days ago, the charges against Jeff Thompson were dropped. Stephen Gleeson? The Crown didn’t have to drop those charges … Gleeson had already been ‘advised’ if he pleaded guilty to the ‘pervert justice’ charge against him, he would have a better chance of gaining parole. Gleeson was in jail for a very serious offence of violence. This offence was not related in any way to the SNF case. Gleeson in my view – took the opportunity and ‘rolled over’.

    • andrew says:

      The notion that the DNA deposit was transferred there on a shoe is risible. An insult to our intelligence. Unless, of course, it was on the shoe of a one-footed alien lowered from the spaceship and departing without taking other steps. In Tasmania, anything is possible, eh?

      • Mary says:

        It was explained that had the DNA been from saliva that there may have been other locations with the DNA but these were not sampled because those locations did not react to luminol.

        • andrew says:

          That seems like another layer of ‘maybe’ … speculation. The Crown has filled this case with feeble speculation and/or misdirection. Please don’t encourage them to keep adding more.

          • Mary says:

            From page 31 of CCA’s decision:

            “He explained that it may have been another substance on the deck such as saliva in which case luminol would not have reacted to it. If the DNA detected was from saliva it could have been elsewhere on the deck of the Four Winds, but not sampled because there is no screening test to detect saliva.”

          • andrew says:

            If you are trying to prove that it was speculation, you have succeeded.

        • Brian Johnston says:

          We were encouraged to believe the DNA – saliva – could have come from a shoe. I understand the same DNA was on a nearby rag. Vass vomited and wiped her mouth.

  9. Jerry Fitzsimmons says:

    One person I would like to acknowledge in all of this is Colin McLaren. I hope you are well.

    • Helen says:

      Coincidentally, Jerry I have bookmarks in certain sections of the book by Colin. I did email him at first but chose to leave him in peace after his health issues. Such an outstanding gentleman to keep on like a “Dog at a Bone” Afterall Colin and the new salvage owner certainly worked together in investigation of the starboard hatch. There is one thing that bothers me – why in the hell wasn’t the boat brought up into Dry Dock. One thing for sure The Rule of Karma by Hari Krishna is really true.

      I am a returnee and found quite a culture shock on my return even so far as being severely abused by a certain Policewoman in Kettering with a far out accusation of her being recorded – such a joke as I was on the phone to my daughter in Sydney – I took it further and reported her to a top Commander but after that had to see a Psychologist for ongoing therapy as I never really had confidence in the police here after hearing some crude remarks amongst four police officers in Ferry Road, Kettering on another instance where they were out in force catching Asians (within the speed limit) on their way to catch the Ferry to Bruny Island. What goes around comes around.

      As my friend, once a local, now residing in Brisbane, with two daughters both Barristers will never come back here until next year when a big Can of Worms open.

  10. Andrea says:

    Jeff….. a truly honest man caught up in the take no hostage approach of Tasmania Police. Surveillance certainly has its reason for use in police tactics but I dont think being used to ensure their underhanded practices can continue is one of them.
    Hopefully this is the start of a domino effect that will see come to light all of the wrong doings in this case and maybe even others.
    Good on Jeff for never giving up and to everyone on this page who had nothing but positive vibes.

    • Robert Greenshields says:

      Very true Andrea; in many aspects the courage to be a true connoisseur, is conspicuously defined through pragmatic examples of long term resolute determination, opposing, as an illustration, the concept of criminally constructed comfortable conformity. Participants on the other hand merely partake, at times expressly, but frequently deceptively, not unlike a supposed refined, internationally respected, whiskey decanter disguising nothing more than undiluted cold black tea. Aesthetically, visually appealing, but devoid of any true structured substance, and well camouflaged.

    • Geraldine Allan says:

      You write truths Andrea, in more ways than one.

      You too have been a constant loyal supporter, as you know the depth of goodness Jeff has quietly yet generously shown towards ppl who shall remain unnamed here.

  11. Robert Greenshields says:

    I find it difficult to believe that as a nation, Australia will continue to survive and prosper, while our necessary administrations comply with the dysfunctionality of blatantly and obsequiously accepting the recognised stratified hierarchical status quo, especially in matters directly related to law and order and its just administration. Combined communities are still weighed down by the burden, and have long been, completely devalued and regressed through the continuity of convoluted criminal practices, accepted, maintained, and when considered necessary, carefully choreographed, by policing and investigative officers actively and deliberately deceiving courts, the higher judicial authorities, and the general public, irrespective of the very same officers initially swearing some form of an oath to either serve, protect, or provide to the public benefit.

    Facts and records more than adequately suggest that among our nations serving policing officers there seems to be more of an obligation to appease the cultures of collusion and closing of ranks, in support of potentially venal fellow policing members, than any structures of allegiance to any members or sections of the public.

    As in the majority of cases everything either evolves, revolves, or dissolves, I believe that it is imperative that the ongoing flagrant acceptance of the now exposed, consistently perverted and manipulated colonially cultured status quo, be eradicated from the regular practices within our nations policing and judiciary, so as justice and legalities have again, a transparent opportunity to continue and hopefully reign supreme.

    The dynamic machinations among sections of the legal fraternity in the state of Tasmania most recently raises more questions than it has answered, and I can only presume that by the evening of the 12th of August, another tsunami of inquiries will be floundering ashore within the vicinity of Sandy Bay.

    Maintain the faith Sue; it seems most likely to me, that the bell tolls not for thee, but for those who have maintained the insidious, deceitful, spree.

    • Owen allen says:

      What I read in your excellent venacular Robert, which would make Charles Wooley proud, or puke for his old teacher; I read the status quo, will remain. I disagree. It may be that they go down fighting; but they will go down, and the Statos Quo will be forgotten; the fight will never end. We are many and we are free. I know some people do not like talking about the devil, satan, but he is real consuming people and societies.
      edited for relevance

      • Owen allen says:

        Scholars, intellects and eveyone. Highly educated can read faster for interpretation and analysis so therefore can educate others of the truth they find and realise.
        In Jesus Name, I pray, Amen.

      • Jerry Fitzsimmons says:

        Owen, mate. Your day of reckoning will come. Be patient buddy. We all now know what you and others went through. Live on mate, enjoy watching this unfold.👍

        • Owen allen says:

          Thanks Jerry, your kind words brought tears to my eyes, I have been holding off a nervous breakdown for years. In fact, I had mini nervous breakdowns regularly riding back into Hobart to my business dripping tears; not fear, just uncertainty when I was facing off corrupt Tas Police, knowing they murder.
          Lest We Forget those that have supported our freedom and I wanted to support them as I do still now and be part of the Revolution like all positive contributors.
          I thank you all as I wipe my eyes.

      • Owen allen says:

        Forgive my ignorance, when the bells toll.

    • Rosemary says:

      Great assessment Robert, hopefully with this exposing of wrongdoing with regard to Jeff in particular, someone/body will take it up to reform our outdated system of the judiciary. Enough with the pats on the backs of colleagues and get on with true justice in our society.

  12. Jerry Fitzsimmons says:

    A great moment dare I say for Jeff and his family, for his immediate family circle and his supportive friends and colleagues. I include in this yourself Andrew, the Sue Neill-Fraser support group in Tasmania who were there in every way to oppose Jeff’s despicable and wrongful arrest. However, what does it also say about those public figures who were brave enough to have acted and spoken out publicly about Jeff’s treatment and hopefully one day about the treatment handed out to Sue Neill- Fraser! Unfortunately those responsible will continue to retain their wretched livelihoods, some in their pompous and protective law making ivory towers, who should be rightfully made to pay for their injustices. I don’t write in vindication, I write in pity for those who have also been under the wrath of the so- called ‘professionals’ who are a part of the ‘crooked’ justice system in Tasmania. Well done Jeff’s counsel.👏👏👏👏👏👏

    • Geraldine Allan says:

      Jerry it is indeed “A great moment … for Jeff and his family” et al,

      I endorse your categorisation of, “Jeff’s despicable and wrongful arrest”.

      Frustratingly, I can only count on one hand “those public figures who were brave enough to have acted and spoken out publicly about Jeff’s treatment”. I’m struggling to go further; I’d like to believe I’m wrong?

      History shows that the real criminals who pervert justice do retain their positions, and their sycophants too! Where are the whistle-blowers? My belief is some who hold high morals are too fearful to speak out, since they’re acutely aware that morality doesn’t ensure retaining their livelihood.

      Jerry, it was an uplifting experience to be an onlooker as Jeff’s legal team slowly & surely unpicked the illegalities and wrongdoing. TASPOL and the prosecution team are not used to this professionalism. For too long the Tasmanian ‘boys’ club’ have gone through the motions of defending without the effort required. It has come home to ‘bite them on the bum’.


      • Geraldine Allan says:

        An oversight on my part — I failed to include an applause reading, “well done Jeff and your family”, for 1) surviving such a horrendously cruel ordeal, especially from those whose primary role & function is to uphold the law;
        2) for the grace and dignity you’ve all displayed throughout the past 5 shocking years of hell;
        3) for ‘keeping the bastards honest’.

        At your own personal, emotional and financial expense, you’ve honoured the 1) integrity of your profession when others have failed, and 2) rule of law, when those around you were displaying no concern whatsoever for morality and their obligations.

        Onya Jeff & yours.

  13. Trevor Garland says:

    That is the best news ever that charges have been dropped.
    Let’s hope that Jeff sues those that tried to pin false charges on him.
    The other terrific news is that the undercurrent tv series on Sue Neill Fraser will be shown nationally including Tasmania.
    Woo hoo
    There is a lot of hope now for Sue Neill Fraser as the pressure grows showing that Sue has been wrongfully convicted.

  14. Peter Gill says:

    At long last, Justice Brett has restored some dignity to the Tasmanian legal system. What a wait it has been. Thanks to David Edwardson QC and the other West Australian lawyers who have contributed to the rectification of the travesty of justice that was the case against Jeff Thompson, after their good work earlier led to the rectification of Scott Austic’s erroneous imprisonment. Jeff Thompson in my opinion deserves compensation for the wrongs done to him.

    Perhaps the most horrifying of a series of nasty things in the Sue Neill Fraser case has been the shameful and unjustified malicious treatment of Barbara Etter and Jeff Thompson. At least we now have hope that fairness and justice are still alive in the Tasmanian legal system. Fingers crossed.

  15. Owen allen says:

    And then there are the rest of us, victimised, ostracised and traumatised; by cronyism, nepotism and corruption in Tasmania, by Bureaucrats, Tasmania Police and Government, who knew what was happening, but ignored it; therefore complicit to corrupt activity in Tasmania Law and Order.
    I rest my case and call for a Federal Investigation into Cronyistic Corruption in Tasmania.
    Owen Allen. I have the guff;

  16. Robin Bowles says:

    HOORAY FOR JUSTICE BRETT! Now all he must do is lift the Suppression Orders on various parts of the case before the erstwhile prosecution tries to rewrite history and to provide the community with the opportunity to air the real story and tell it far and wide! As a ‘story teller’ myself, I have felt my hands have been tied during all the twists and turns of Jeff’s PERSECUTION, but at last the light can shine in! Bless your cotton socks, Your Honour, for holding that light aloft!

  17. Diane Kemp says:

    Such good news for Jeff and his family but we all know he should not have gone through any of this. Taspol and DPP continuing the spiteful actions to try to reinforce the wrongful conviction of Sue. Thank you Justice Brett for being ethical and honest in your dealings on the Tasmanian bench – you are in the minority.
    I support Jelena’s question about who is perverting the course of justice – I think we know many names who would fit as a response.
    I hope that Jeff is able to sue for compensation but in Tasmania, this probably is not allowed!!! And it can never take away what he and his family have gone through for 5 long years.
    Bring on Friday and a good outcome at the High Court for Sue.

  18. David Edwardson QC says:

    Frank Merenda (my Junior counsel) together with John Munro (instructing solicitor) and I have been fighting this case now for some years. Finally when the Judgements are published everyone will appreciate how misconceived this prosecution was and why the conduct of TASPOL in the context of this case is so reprehensible. Every now and again there is a case which is so important and this is one of them. Jeff Thompson was just trying to help fight for Sue Neil Fraser’s freedom. In return, his life and career was turned upside down by illegal conduct the details of which will be published in due course. Today is a very important day not just for Jeff Thompson. David Edwardson QC

    • andrew says:

      We are watching …

    • Geraldine Allan says:

      Very important day for Tasmanian justice being seen to be done ✅.

    • Robin says:

      Well done Jeff’s legal team for eagle eyes on the warrants! Thank God they were being heard by an impartial judge—rare bird in some parts of the country!

    • Garry Stannus says:

      The following court order was put in place last year. It is still current and I hope it will be lifted once Brett J issues a detailed judgement.

      State of Tasmania
      Jeffrey Ian Thompson
      Memorandum of Order
      Before: The Honourable Justice Brett
      Date Made: 30 November 2021
      THE COURT ORDERS that, until further order, reports in respect of the
      current proceedings in this matter are suppressed, with the exception that the
      press may report that the trial of Mr Thompson has been adjourned to a later
      date, with no explanation.
      By the Court

      QC David Edwardson’s comment warrants close reading.

      Of course, we are delighted for Jeff. And we expect that when Brett J publishes his detailed judgement, it will become more apparent why there must be a wide-reaching Inquiry. This should include TASPOL, ODPP, Tas Prison Service, the Coroner’s Court, relevant senior members of the govt (past and present). And of course, we want to know what happened to Bob Chappell.

      Inquiry Now!

      • andrew says:

        Justice Brett discharged Thompson, and also ruled a suppression order
        that has prevented media reporting on the case since November 2021 be
        partially lifted.

        • Garry Stannus says:

          Thank you Andrew. However, I’ve rechecked the Supreme Court website and it appears to me [Tue 9Aug 1:06 pm] that the original order is still in place:

          Perhaps there is a time lag in amending the order / posting details of the partial lifting?

        • Geraldine Allan says:

          Yes, and genuine appreciation Andrew that you so promptly released the information, albeit in part only. As one of Jeff’s numerous supporters, I appreciate that although you’ve been privy to information, you’ve had to ‘sit on it’ and waiting patiently. I too have been in that situation, and today we can celebrate being able let a bit of air from our collective balloon.

          My suspicion is that Jeff feels as though he’s soaring high in a hot air balloon, minus the hot air.

          Yet, the cruelty forced upon him and his dear family must never be allowed to be forgotten.

          • Geraldine Allan says:

            I repeat my comment to Robin Bowles on a Justice System Reform for Tasmania f/b page, wherein I posted a link to this WCR article.

            “and for those readers who may miss my reply to Robin Bowles, as it is a sub-comment, I repeat it here

            Robin Bowles I remind you of Jeff’s RTI external review 2020 decision; NFA- “it would be a substantial and unreasonable diversion of its resources”, possible estimate = $1.5m

            Appalling extent to which the combined systems resorted in order to prevent him from uncovering the hidden illegalities/breaches of law.

            “Jeff Thompson and Tasmania Police (July 2020)
            Mr Thompson sought a broad range of information held by Tasmania Police as a result of several charges laid against him. Tasmania Police refused the information on the basis it would be a substantial and unreasonable diversion of its resources. On review the Ombudsman found Tasmania Police grossly underestimated the volume of information held and its decision to refuse was affirmed.”

  19. Jelena Rosic says:

    The sixty million dollar question remaining following the nolle prosequi ruling by Justice Brett today: “Who is perverting the course of justice?”

    • Wendi says:

      Rejected; email address could not be verified.

    • Noeline Durovic says:

      Who you question Jelena? Who indeed? So deep is this perversion of Justice! Those responsible who perverted, acted ruthlessly and dishonourably may well find ”The sixty Million Dollar Question” in need of an Independent Commission of Inquiry..Jelena certainly Jeffs honesty stands as true as he is…

  20. LB says:

    Hooray! Hopefully Jeff is able to claim compensation and costs! Not only for loss of earnings but for damage to his reputation. Torturous, tawdry, toxic, tardy Tasmania…. simply scandalous. Thanks again Andrew.

  21. Geraldine Allan says:

    … the news Jeff, his family, & supporters have been waiting for.

    Shamefully and cruelly, it is 5 years today since then Detective Damien George arrived with a search warrant, at Jeff’s home at 7.50am as he was preparing his children for school.

    And 8 days later, 17/8/17 Jeff was charged.

    Undoubtedly, much more to be said on this topic.

  22. Williambtm says:

    Justice Brett is the most respected Supreme Court Judge among the judiciary in the State of Tasmania. This same Justice does not begin his sitting over a newly convened Supreme Court Trial case matter bearing any extreme bias.

    The true and correct applicability for a nolle prosequi is prior to a case & or during that case trial.
    However, in Tasmania, if it suits the pod of this State’s basking whales, otherwise known as (Tasmania’s Judicial Hierarchy) even a lapse of 10-12 years later can be invoked as nolle prosequi.
    They make up their own interpretations of law & justice in this State of Tasmania. (Excluding Justice Brett.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.