Rosie Crumpton-Crook, President of the Neill-Fraser Support Group, today said in a statement to media that: “Supporters of Sue Neill-Fraser welcomed the news that Kathleen Folbigg had been pardoned, and we wish her well. The case of Susan Neill-Fraser in Tasmania should be the next to be resolved.”
Ms Crumpton-Crook stated that: “the Kathleen Folbigg case is a clear demonstration of how the appeals system fails cases of miscarriages of justice. In light of this case, Tasmanian Attorney-General, the Hon. Elise Archer, must establish a Commission of Inquiry into the entirely circumstantial murder conviction of Sue Neill-Fraser in Tasmania in 2010.”
Sue Neill-Fraser served 13 years in prison and has always strongly proclaimed her innocence.
She was found guilty of a murder on a yacht moored off Sandy Bay in Hobart, where there was no weapon, no body, no witness to the event, no plausible motive and no forensics linking her to the crime. To the contrary, there is DNA evidence linking at least one other person, Ms Meaghan Vass, to the Fours Winds yacht and unknown DNA of others. Ms Vass has admitted publicly to being on the yacht the night Bob Chappell died.
Ms Crumpton-Crook said that: “There are significant concerns about the Neil-Fraser case in relation to the adequacy of the police investigation, the forensic science evidence presented to the courts and the failure to disclose all relevant materials. A number of these deficiencies were exposed under Parliamentary Privilege with the tabling of the Etter/Selby papers by the Hon. Mike Gaffney in the Legislative Council on 31 August 2021. Sadly, the Tasmanian Government has never formally responded to the papers.”
Ms Crumpton-Crook stated that the issues regarding forensic science included:
- “False and misleading evidence from a FSST scientist about the luminol preliminary testing and blood in the dinghy (which was said to have been used to remove the body of the victim, Mr Bob Chappell). The jury was not told that all confirmatory tests for blood were negative;
- The flawed “reconstruction” of the winching exercise from below decks which was said to have been undertaken by Neill-Fraser to get Bob’s body up from below decks;
- The presentation of the critical red jacket as an exhibit with a continuous chain of custody when it had been lost for several days in the police car park;
- The incomplete and flawed forensic evidence at the trial about the true nature (large volume and high quality) sample of the DNA of Ms Vass, found on the deck of the yacht, without reasonable explanation. It was argued and accepted at trial that it may have come in on the bottom of a police officer’s shoe;
- The issue of missing and potentially critical exhibits from the major Forensic Biology Report.It appears that there were also issues of material non-disclosure by the Crown as highlighted in the Etter/Selby papers and in a recent submission by Civil Liberties Australia to a Tasmanian Parliamentary Inquiry into Adult Imprisonment.”
Former Tasmanian Premier and Attorney-General, Lara Giddings stated “The Folbigg case has shown that our courts do get it wrong. It shows the court appeals system is not an adequate safeguard against miscarriages of justice.
“Even the right to further appeal legislation in Tasmania requires fresh and compelling evidence to re-open a case. It does not allow for a review of the first trial; it does not allow for a review of the competency of legal teams; it does not allow for a review of police files and the original investigation undertaken.
“There are lessons to be learnt from the Folbigg case, the Eastman case, the Chamberlain case, the Mallard case among others. In the case of Sue Neill-Fraser there are too many questions left unanswered, too many mistakes made and too many assumptions made not to have reasonable doubt about her guilt too.
“The Tasmania Government must have the courage to open the Neill-Fraser case up to an independent review.
“A Commission of Inquiry is the best mechanism for such a review, which must be headed up by an independent, interstate judge, retired or not.
“If there is nothing to hide, no one should fear a Commission of Inquiry. We are all human, we all make mistakes, but we must not let our fear of being exposed for those mistakes, prevent a woman from clearing her name and living her life free of the label of “convicted murderer”.
Mr Bill Rowlings OAM, Secretary of CLA, stated “Forensics have freed Folbigg. They would help acquit Sue Neill-Fraser for a 2010 wrongful conviction of murder if only the available material, not looked at for 14 years and some of it never forensically examined, was re-tested for DNA by an independent forensic laboratory/expert and not one that is part of the Tasmania Police, and which is formally controlled by the Police Commissioner”.
Ms Crumpton-Crook said, “There is an urgent need for a national Criminal Cases Review Commission but, more importantly, it is time for an urgent Commission of Inquiry in Tasmania into the Sue Neill-Fraser case and associated criminal justice issues. Sue will not be truly free until her conviction is overturned.”