Listen to Lynn, Attorney-General; the public is speaking

This compelling and heartfelt letter from Hobart resident Lynn Giddings to Tasmania’s Attorney-General is representative of public demand for a Commission of Inquiry into the case of Sue Neill-Fraser. And below, Giddings witnessed how the jury had been left with a false impression about DNA in the latex glove from the crime scene. It wasn’t Sue Neill-Fraser’s. 

My dear Attorney-General,                                                          19th  June 2023

I am writing to you to implore you to call for a Commission of Inquiry in the case of Susan Blyth Neill-Fraser.

Firstly, I would like to say a few words about myself so you don’t think I am a Johnny-come-lately jumping on a band wagon.

All my life, I have valued fairness and justice. As a schoolgirl, I received a prize for a speech I gave about the last man hanged in Victoria. In trying to escape from Pentridge Gaol, he may or may not have shot a prison warder. Following his execution, there were suggestions that another warder was the killer, when trying to shoot the escapee.

Although a school teacher in Papua New Guinea, I started a Community Corrections (Probation) Service for the country when my husband, then a magistrate, was sending some of my students to gaol for shoplifting. I declined a medal for this work, wanting to see fairness and justice, not accolades.

When I left PNG in 1986 and moved to Hobart, I found employment with the Justice Department in the Community Corrections Service until I retired in 2005. This included five years or more as a welfare officer in Risdon Prison, the first female employed in the male section. During this time, I ran a successful Anger Management Programme. I say this, to stress that justice has been a strong influence in my life and I have had many years of experience with criminals in and out of prison.

I would appreciate an interview with you but, as the mother of an ex-politician, I am aware of the demands upon you. I sat through Sue Neill-Fraser’s trial, not as a sticky-beak but to help her elderly mother, my friend, Helen Neill-Fraser, understand the workings of the court.

I have written a somewhat lengthy article on the trial titled What Evidence? prompted by a letter by Ben Lohberger to the Tasmanian Times, 25 August 2014 in which he referred to Neill-Fraser’s “farrago of lies”. I have never sought to have it published. However, I will draw to your attention a few of the salient points that left me angry and concerned and ashamed of our justice system in Tasmania.

The Trial
1       The evidence of (the late) Mrs Barbara Zochling, who stated in court that “the lady in the box” was not the lady she saw arguing with Mr Chappell on the beach that morning. (Their arguing was the fatal friction the police needed to charge Neill-Fraser). Mrs Zochling described a lady with fair, shoulder-length hair, not the black hair she saw in a picture of Sue Neill-Fraser on the television news.

No one in the court, not the judge nor the defence counsel, said “We seem to have an identification problem here”. It went through to the keeper. After giving her evidence, Mrs Zochling waited outside the court until the next adjournment and spoke to family members, pointing to Bob Chappell’s sister, Ann Sanchez, as the lady she has seen. Bob Chappell had taken his sister to Bruny Island the previous day.

She had the wrong lady on the wrong day; easily done on an Australia Day long weekend. Family passed this information to the defence team and the detective in charge of the case, but nothing happened; it was never disclosed to the jury.

2       During the trial, the prosecutor told the court that Sue Neill-Fraser put on a latex glove “to clean up as best she could”. Surely, he had the forensic report in front of him that contradicted this statement and named Tim Chappell (a son) as the DNA in the glove. This does not mean I suspect Tim Chappell murdered his father; what worries me is that the jury was totally misinformed.

3       People like to say that Ms Neill-Fraser lost her appeals. That is legally true but, in my opinion, she has suffered a gross miscarriage of justice. In her first appeal, a ground for appeal was the forensic report about the glove. I went to the appeal court believing she would be released when this came out but, before the appeal commenced, the prosecutor beckoned to the new defence counsel from Victoria, Mr Croucher (now a judge) and said, “You can drop the ground of appeal of the latex glove as I can answer that simply, the police told Tim to put on rubber gloves”. I wanted to call out to Mr Croucher, “Don’t do it. That is what the jury heard”. But I feared I would be in contempt of court. The police told no one else to wear latex gloves that day. (See Giddings’ stat dec about the latex glove, below.)

The newspaper, Examiner, reported on 11 August, 2011, under the headline Mistake admitted in murder appeal: Tasmania’s Director of Public Prosecutions has admitted that he made a mistake suggesting a Hobart woman murdered her husband using a wrench while wearing rubber gloves but he told the Supreme Court in Hobart the error was not grounds for an appeal …it was a ‘throwaway line’ among a volume of evidence against Neill-Fraser.

I would argue that it was powerful and inaccurate evidence and completely prejudicial to Sue Neill-Fraser’s trial. It was wrong and it was damning. It was what the jury (and so many others) heard and believed. And, there was no wrench.

4     Why did the prosecutor mention “young Mr O’Day”? What did he mean by his comment, “with her involvement with the disappearing young Mr O’Day and what happened to him, no one knew, disappeared, no body”. Sue Neill-Fraser’s only involvement with Mr O’Day was to employ his girlfriend at her riding school. He came to the riding school to see his girlfriend who apparently broke off their relationship. I note that the prosecutor is careful with his wording: he uses “disappearing” an adjective and avoids saying the “disappearance” (noun) of Mr O’Day.

5       The subject of dinghies took up a lot of time in court. In his closing address, the defence counsel highlighted the importance of the evidence of Mr Conde, who saw a “battleship grey”  dinghy with a lee cloth across the front at 3.55pm. He described it as, shabbier – older, worn, faded and more of a ‘commercial look’ about it than the usual dinghy belonging to a ‘leisure yacht’.   The defence counsel asked:

Who was there at 3?
Who was there at 5 o’clock?
Whose grey dinghy was it?
What were they doing on board?

He summed it up:

Now a reasonable hypothesis …is that whoever was on that boat at that time is responsible by whatever means for the disappearance of Mr Chappell. That is the only reasonable conclusion that is open.

6     The evidence of Phillip Triffett, in my opinion, was a fantasy. Although the defence counsel submitted at the outset of the trial that Triffett’s evidence was “So prejudicial that it ought to be excluded”, quoting from the  Evidence Act:

The court may refuse to admit evidence if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger the evidence might be unfairly prejudicial to a party”  but the judge allowed it in despite admitting he saw “a significant risk of unfair prejudice”.

The prosecutor went so far as to acknowledge Triffett as “someone who can take a little bit out of the story here and splice it together in a way that doesn’t involve perjury.”

Phillip Triffett

How is a  person like that believed over Sue Neill-Fraser of whom the judge at trial commented, “She has no prior conviction. She apparently led a blameless life …”?

Triffett admitted to the defence counsel that, upon giving his statement to Constable Mikulski, who was aware of charges pending against him, he asked, “… will this help me with these charges?”

7       Although Sue Neill-Fraser was accused of lies and ‘red herrings’, the most legitimate evidence at this trial was her own admission that she told a lie, one lie to the police when, with Tim Chappell standing beside her, she was asked if she were home that night. Following a strange phone call informing her that Bob Chappell’s younger daughter was frightened something bad would happen to her father while on the boat, Sue went down to the marina to check on Claire. She lied because the family down-played the daughter’s mental illness. When giving evidence about his sister, in relation to her premonition of her father, Tim Chappell did not like the references to ‘fantasies, paranoia and delusions’ saying, “We like to call them anxieties”.

8       Then we had the appeal where we hoped Meaghan Vass would give evidence that would release Sue. What Vass said on Sixty Minutes had me thinking, “At last I have heard the truth”.  She should have been given a closed court if she was going to name names. Anyone who has worked with criminals knows “You do not grass on your mates”. Meaghan Vass is lucky to be alive having friends in bikie gangs.  When I saw the newspaper headlines, Sam Did It, I knew Sue had lost her appeal. Lindy Chamberlain’s release was the result of the death of an English tourist on Uluru, enabling police to discover the matinee jacket that Chamberlain had always said her baby was wearing and would have had the dingo’s DNA on it.

Sue Neill-Fraser’s supporters had hoped the Vass evidence would be Sue’s ‘matinee jacket’. Without a closed court, Day 2 was a fiasco and positively heartbreaking for the support group. All Vass could say, amid her tears, was, “I made a mistake yesterday, I made a mistake yesterday”.

At the trial we were told there were 3 unidentified DNA – a female and 2 males. Meaghan Vass was identified as the female when she was charged with shoplifting. We have never heard about the 2 males. Surely now, after fourteen years, the police could find matches for the two males. A Commission of Inquiry could sort out the DNA and other matters.

9       I could go on and on with asides such as I believe the witness, Mr Hughes, who saw a female “rowing out” that night was looking at Grant Maddock. Sue told me, when I visited her in prison before the trial, that a detective informed her that a witness had come forward who had seen a female rowing out in the marina at Sandy Bay that night. Sue said she replied, “Well it can’t be me; I have no rowlocks in my dinghy”.

Grant Maddock in 2009

Grant Maddock gave evidence at Sue’s first appeal that he had gone to help Mr Brettingham-Moore in rough weather that night. Mr Brettingham-Moore confirmed this although he did not accept the help.

In court,  the DPP asked the witness “had he heard anything” and he said he had heard an outboard on the back that was reasonably quiet and only going at a slow speed.  My impression was that this evidence was manipulated.

10    In my opinion, this was a trial of speculation, innuendo and mockery. Here is an example of speculation:

(i)  She’s walking backwards and forwards and delivers … a blow or blows, or maybe stabs him with a screwdriver, I don’t know, he doesn’t look round and so the body doesn’t  have any marks of what you’d expect if someone had come down there, a stranger, intent on doing him harm, the body I suggest would have marks consistent only with being delivered by someone who he knew to be there, who he knew and expected to be behind him.

But there was no body.

(ii)  Here is an example of innuendo:
Much grander plans, I suggest did Ms Neill-Fraser have than Mr Chappell had, much grander plans indeed, and perhaps it became clear to her that those plans would not include Mr Chappell, he would not be the one to be sailing on that boat in particular to the Galapagos Islands with her, or the Ecuador with her.

To be going to Ecuador suggests to me that Sue and Bob were planning to visit Bob’s sister, Ann Sanchez. The Galapagos Islands belong to Ecuador where Bob’s sister lives.

(iii) Here is one of mockery:
And you really wanted this yacht? A tremendous yacht? … A beautiful yacht?… When you finally got it back here people no doubt complimented you on it, people from the yacht  club … But anyone who saw it and commented to you would have said what a lovely yacht it was: …of course, you were imagining then, you’ve told us, sort of grand sailing, grand sailing to the Galapagos Island.

What could all this humbug be about, other than to alienate Susan Neill-Fraser in the eyes of the jury. This was not a search for the truth, nor was it evidence.

At the end of the trial, my husband said to me, “I think there is more justice in Papua New Guinea than Tasmania.”

I don’t believe respected senior counsel such as Tom Percy (WA), Robert Richter and Paul Galbally (Vic) would represent Sue Neill-Fraser pro bono if they didn’t think she was innocent. In addition, lawyers such as Barbara Etter and Jeffrey Thompson have paid dearly for their help.

[- redacted -]

Elise Archer MP, Tasmanian Attorney-General

Please, Attorney-General, intervene for Susan Neill-Fraser as you have done for Jari Wise. Call a Commission of Inquiry with an interstate judge such as Lindy Chamberlain’s Morling Inquiry. Please help us out of this chaos that is dividing the community. Sue Neill-Fraser needs exoneration.

Yours respectfully,
Lynn Giddings

[Ed: A month later (in mid-July), Giddings received a reply from the Attorney-General; it was a repeat of the standard response, citing the by now familiar and spurious grounds: see our post of 21 July, 2023.]

Lynn Giddings is far from a lone voice. Many of our readers have called for a review of this case, not to mention now over 37,600 signatories to the petition. Have a look.

The latex glove in the wrong hands?

Sitting in the front row of public seats behind the prosecutor and defence counsel at Sue Neill-Fraser’s 10 August, 2011 appeal, Lynn Giddings overheard a brief exchange about the latex glove found at the crime scene that has haunted her ever since. In February 2020, she could stay silent no longer and made a statutory declaration detailing what she heard. On reading our 21 July 2023 post listing appealable errors in the case, Giddings has provided her damning stat dec to add to the list.

 I do solemnly and sincerely declare that: I attended the first appeal of Susan Neill-Fraser at the Supreme Court in Hobart on 10 August 2011. I was seated in court in the front row of the public seating, behind Mr Michael Croucher who was the counsel appearing for Ms Neill-Fraser.

Tim Ellis SC, former Tasmanian DPP – prosecutor at trial

Before the court commenced, the DPP, Mr Timothy Ellis, walked from his designated area to stand in front of me. He beckoned, with a hand gesture to Mr Croucher to join him. With the two men standing in front of me, I heard Mr Ellis clearly say to Mr Croucher, “You can drop the ground of appeal of the latex gloves as I can answer that simply, the police told Tim to put on rubber gloves”.

 I wanted to call out to Mr Croucher “But that is what the jury heard when the DPP claimed that the ‘appellant had sought to cover up what she had done and had got out latex gloves and left them on the stove top and,  in his closing address referred to the appellant as ‘someone who sought with a pair of latex gloves … to clear up as best she could’ and that is the information the jury would have considered when they found her guilty of murder.” But I held back from speaking, fearing being in contempt of court.

 The reason, I am making this statement now is that I have spent nearly a decade troubled that Mr Croucher had dropped that ground of appeal so easily as it could have made the difference had it been tested in court. It did not seem reasonable to me that a person would be directed by police to touch the gloves that were an exhibit in the trial.

 The key issue is that the jury was led to believe the prosecution’s speculation that Sue Neill-Fraser had worn the latex gloves to clean up after she murdered Chappell. The jury was misled.

How can this conviction stand?



Cover photo courtesy Eve Ash

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

28 Responses to Listen to Lynn, Attorney-General; the public is speaking

  1. I am a pure amateur as far as court proceedings go. But, for some time, this and other cases in Tasmania have raised my interest and curiosity? The thought of imprisonment while innocent so offends my senses I cannot stay quiet. Not that I have any legal education but for what it is worth, I have had ninety- seven years of life behind me!
    So, this uneducated(Bachelor of Arts), has never had an answer to my question, ‘How is it possible to charge anyone with murder if no body is produced? How do we KNOW that Mr Evans is not holidaying in Monte Carlo? Marion Hosking OAM ,Centenary Medal

    • Winny says:

      This educated 54 year old criminologist with a doctorate is quite familiar with court proceedings. The prosecution in the trial of Sue Neill-Fraser explained that their intention was to prove that Bob was dead and that he was murdered by the defendant. The jury was provided with evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Bob was dead. Seems to me that since the jury found the defendant guilty that they were convinced that Bob was dead.

      By the way: It’s not Mr Evans. It’s Mr Chappell.

      • andrew says:

        I’ll just butt in here as I am really anxious to hear details of your claim that “The jury was provided with evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Bob was dead.”

        • Garry Stannus says:

          There is no evidence of Bob’s death, Andrew … at least none that made it to trial. The evidence that suggests his death is ‘circumstantial’: … i.e. it is that Bob disappeared from the Four Winds, his library books on-hold were never collected, his ‘this and that’ never completed, never renewed.

          You will not hear of any direct evidence from your ‘Winny’ correspondent. That ’54 year old criminologist’, in my opinion, is something of a ‘Bozo’.

          I mean, if you want to offer an ‘educated opinion’, you give your name, you reference/quote examples to support your claims and you don’t make spurious claims as to what the jury actually thought.

          One person came out publicly, insisting that as an actual juror, they were convinced that they had heard all the evidence, had thought it all through and so forth. Trouble was (in my view) that juror was not aware of all the argy-bargy that took place … while they, the jury, were sent out of the court. For example, the controversy between Judge and Counsel as to the evidence of Dtv. Sinnitt … who revealed that the ‘homeless girl’s’ whereabouts on the night in question … were different to what she in court, had seemed to suggest.

          I suggest, Andrew, that you pay little attention to so-called 54 year old Bozos … they always claim much, yet provide little. It’s easy, it seems, for the Bozos of this world, to take pot-shots from the safety of anonymity.

          We need a Commission of Review and we need an Inquiry in Tas.

          • Owen allen says:

            Thanks Gary, I like that, you made me laugh.
            A bozo, hahaha, Winny Bozo, you crack me up.
            Later I suggested she/he/or it be from Tavistock, Bozo Winny, great work, and support your local OMG, they aint all bad guys.

      • Father Ted Whalensky says:

        Hitler’s Judges had PhDs – can’t remember where we buried them – after a nice hanging – no- not piano wire – they used on the innocent . If a jury is fed dog shit – their verdict is dog shit – and it ain’t their fault – A PhD in Ethical Thinking ? There has to be a way to STOP the stinking screenplays used to fool untrained but likely well meaning juries

    • Father Ted Whalensky says:

      Thank you for your obviously concerned letter Marion – being an old codger myself – I’m sure as one gets older- there is a concern about the sort of society we will be leaving behind – there is peasant wisdom – there is also wisdom that often comes with age and observation . Legal training not required ! Reading the stupid arrogant rubbish that comes from Appeals Court utterances – that would appear to be a hindrance to Just outcomes – proof of that thought is the fact that eventually an Appeals Court may /can set you free – overwhelming embarrassment ? That’s why your contributions and questions are NOT wasted – embarrass the swine !

  2. John Biggs says:

    Thank you so much for your letter Lynn. I has brought perspective into the discussion going back to where the original trial was so biassed, by defence as well as the prosecution. The AG’s responses are disgraceful, avoiding her responsibilities to ensure the justice system is working properly. She must know by now that it isn’t but sees her responsibility to defend the system at all costs. Naturally that is counterproductive because the unbiassed bystander sees it for what it is, but in Tasmania, where government is embroiled in deals with they think who matters (mates, that is, in business cronies and in the other powers in that so-called “balance of”), principle is lost.

    • Winny says:

      A former Professor who doesn’t know how to spell the word ‘biased’.

      • andrew says:

        Winny, you missed another typo in that comment…

        • Jerry Fitzsimmons says:

          Is that “Winny” Andrew or “Whinney”?

          • Winny says:

            Winnie or Winny (/ˈwɪniː/ WIN-ee) is a male and female given name of Welsh origin, a short form (hypocorism) of Edwina, Winona, Winifred or Winnifred, Winter, Gwendolyn, Guinevere (Welsh), Gwyneth (Welsh), and Wynne (Welsh). The name’s meaning is: fair one, white and smooth, soft, happiness, or fair and pure.

        • Winny says:

          I saw it but didn’t write about it because it is based on the same misspelled word. It is that second word that convinced me that the first error wasn’t just an accidental typo but a genuine misspelling error by the aging mind.

      • Father Ted Whalensky says:

        We didnt do much learning in The Queensland Chillens Prison (Westbrook ) – certainly not spellin – but we sure lurnt how to smell a rat ! Got my divinity degree without good much spellin – bit of Latin Verse – the rest was just mumbo jumbo from North Africa – and then there was light ! OMG !

  3. Jerry Fitzsimmons says:

    Well said David Smith. These ‘party politicians’ have had their opportunities and their ‘jobs for the boys’ entitlements for as long as I can remember. There have also been many of the ‘party politicians’ who continue to cost the tax paying public extra sums of (usually non-transparent) funding with their legal costs after being subpoenaed to appear before Royal Commissions, ICAC’s, Commissions of Enquiry, Coronial Enquiries etc etc yet how often do we hear of ‘Independents’ being as onerous on the tax budget? We should all be hoping that a current bill before the federal Honourable ‘sponges’ that is being pursued by Independent politicians for a “Citizens Assembly” is soon legislated in both federal and State/Territory governments. This may be a way forward to getting the “Laws to govern Fairly and Justly” that you write about.

  4. David Smith says:

    The problem here is that all those in Power know that she is Innocent but they don’t want to admit they are WRONG because they might be held accountable – Corruption is Rife in Tasmania throughout most Departments – There is only One Way to get change and that is at the next Election is to have a change of Government – Not with the Opposition but with New Blood who will govern to change and Repair a very Broken and Corrupt System that runs Tasmania. Get rid of Party Politics and replace it with Honest People who are prepared to whether the Storm of Change – and Represent the People and legislate new Laws to Govern Fairly and Justly.

  5. Poppa Madison says:

    A thoughtful and thorough request for answers to a host of inequities in bith the actions of persons and The English Adversarial Justice System which continues to to undermine what once was the belief of most citizens that Truth In Justice was being sought as the primary goal so that only those Truly Guilty of a crime would be made to pay penalty for it. Sadly, the focus has bevome that of securing a Conviction at all costs with “Justice being served” solely for the Judiciary to determine as having been achieved, not the Citizenry.

  6. Countess Antonia Maria Violetta Scrivanich says:

    My experience is that Elise Archer (Attorney-General + Minister for Police) ignores legitimate complaints , eg in my case in which, in a response to a plea for information by “The Sunday Tasmanian ,”I made a voluntary statement to police which could perhaps assist in finding Vittoria Cafasso’s killer and solve the mystery of the disappearance of the German girl and her bicycle. My scary experience happened at Falmouth about 2 years after . We were tourists. from SA who had not been in Tasmania when these events took place !
    I regret giving the Police my statement as I was made to give my finger-print. It taught me a lesson! Never assist police again ! Two letters sent to Elise Archer asking for an explanation (on 8 February 2023 by Rebecca White, MP and a reminder by her Office on 24 May 2023 ) have been ignored by her . I guess we will never hear from her ! Justice + Truth in Tasmania ? You got to be kidding ! Poor, poor Susan Neill -Fraser who suffered a terribel injustice !

  7. Jerry Fitzsimmons says:

    Thank you many times over Andrew for this sensational ‘post’. Clearly succinct and in accordance with the readings of the SNF trial transcript proceedings. However as I have often found as did Lynn Giddings that by being present at the proceedings there is always more to any proceedings than is printed in the ‘transcript’. A testimony provided but then again provided in a ‘Stat Dec’ says more about a person, in this case the Attorney-General of Tasmania not offering a requested interview to the writer of that declaration. Even the most biased individual I would imagine let alone a sitting elected representative would be inclined to believe “Have I missed something here”. However when another Tasmanian (Garry) receives an almost word for word reply from the same sitting elected representative one can only but think that a “Robodebt” type system must be operating from the A-G’s likely mal-functioning computer system as well. Great letter otherwise Lynn.

  8. Don Wakeling says:

    If A-G Elise Archer doesn’t raise a Commission of Inquiry she will forever be held in the same infamy as those “murderers” of the Jury trial procedures, Chief “Justice” Blow and former prosecutor Ellis.
    What about the Premier and other members of the Tasmanian “liberal” government.

  9. Fiona Peate says:

    Elise Archer doesn’t seem to worry that it is likely a murderer/murderers are ( and have been for over 13 yrs) at large in Hobart, because I’m sure she realises there were very significant errors with Sue’s case. She just doesn’t want to open that Pandora’s box ….for whatever reason.

  10. Owen allen says:

    Well done Lynn Giddings for the work, the emotional effort required to speak out the truth as you witnessed it. Well done; and you might appreciate how I feel speaking out my witnessed truth, of a Leader of Opposition telling my wife and I Tasmania Police are too corrupt to do anything about.
    It is all mind blowing evil, corruption,; why, why; at least everyone can rest in peace I told you why, they can’t do anything about it. Is this reality, democracy, justice in a modern civilised world?
    Owen, ps my Tasmania history goes back to 1990/91 and well documented.

  11. Brian Johnston says:

    It is not helpful comparing the Wise case to Sue’s case. Nor is it helpful comparing Elise Archer’s involvement in both case as she gives her reasons.
    Sue has to mount a civil case. The years keep rolling on and still no civil case.
    Sue is out we may as well all go home.
    It would be very easy for me to use strong words when talking about Elise Archer.
    What good will it do.

    • Geraldine Allan says:

      Brian, for not the first time you have mentioned your belief that, “Sue has to mount a civil case.”

      Can you please detail the course of civil action you believe is currently available to SN-F?

  12. Geraldine Allan says:

    For completeness, the following is an excerpt from ps.17/18 Hansard,
    Hon. Elise Archer MP, Tuesday 6 June 2023
    Ms WEBB – I have a question in the area of coronial area. Regarding your comments earlier about confidence in our justice system, in the matter of the Jari Wise death and the coronial inquest pursued there, we had the Crown opposing an inquest and then, quite promptly, you intervened after the court handed down its decision, to put an inquest in place. In your intervention in that sort of situation, what sort of triggers are there to prompt your intervention given that the court had just handed down a decision?

    CHAIR – And we do not need any specifics.

    Ms WEBB – No, it is a broader question around principle.

    Ms ARCHER – Don’t worry, I’m quite capable of knowing what I can or can’t say. That power of mine under that act has never been used. I will preface this by saying that I do have every faith in the police investigation and in the carriage of the matter by the DPP, but in relation to coronial matters, sometimes coronial hearings could go into far more depth and breadth of issues, or receive different evidence than might be permitted at trial because of the rules of evidence needing to be applied in the trial.

    So, in light of the power that I had – and I stress that it has rarely, if ever, been used; we cannot find a case – I have utilised my power under section 24(1)(g). That decision was not made lightly. I do that and say that I would hope that it will bring closure to Mr Wise’s family and in the circumstances where his mother has information, or allegedly information, that was not necessarily considered or able to be considered at trial, so I am hopeful that the coronial proceedings will bring about some closure.

    Ms WEBB – Was that the trigger to allow consideration potentially of other matters?

    Ms ARCHER – You could say that, yes. I will say that the purpose of a coronial investigation is to include determining how the death occurred and the cause of the death. That is the general area of a coronial proceeding and something that I am sure will be considered as part of that coronial hearing which will be listed by the court. That is something for the court to determine when that is listed, but I have made the direction.

    MS WEBB – Interesting, thank you. …”

    • Keith says:

      If Archer’s role is to act in the public interest, how is it that she totally ignores a 37,000 signature petition? Most would be Tasmanians, that’s a fair chunk of her constituents. This government is looking more like the Victorian Andrews government every day, and it stinks like it too:and I’m a Liberal voter.

  13. Garry Stannus says:

    Yes, I sent a letter recently to the A-G, Elise Archer. I too got a reply … which was identical to that reply which Lynn received. [The only differences were in the dates which in both cases were hand-stamped and at the top, where my letter began: ‘Dear Mr Stannus’, Lynn’s began with ‘Dear Ms Giddings’.]

    For the benefit of readers who might not have seen the text of Elise Archer’s duplicated response, I post its text here:

    18 JUL 2023
    Dear Mr Stannus

    Thank you for writing to me in relation to Susan Neill-Fraser.

    As Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, I am writing to you to reaffirm our Government’s position on Ms Neill-Fraser’s conviction.

    The separation of powers between the Executive, Judiciary and Parliament is an important cornerstone of our system of government. This means that Tasmanian courts hear and decide cases, independent of and without influence from, the government of the day. Similarly, the Director of Public Prosecutions, who prosecutes crimes in the Supreme Court and conducts appeals, exercises his or her functions independent of and without influence from the government of the day. This ensures there is no political, sectional or other interference.

    As you may know, our Government amended the Criminal Code Act 1924 to allow for a further application to the Court of Criminal Appeal in cases where there is further evidence that is ‘fresh and compelling.’ This provides for further judicial review of matters, such as Ms Neill-Fraser’s conviction, and a Commission of Inquiry has not been shown to be needed or justified in Ms Neill-Fraser’s case.

    Ms Neill-Fraser and her experienced legal team took the opportunity to make an application under this new law. Ms Neill-Fraser also later made an application for special leave to the High Court. In both instances, the applications were dismissed by the respective courts.

    One of my duties as Attorney-General is to uphold the rule of law. This means ensuring that a case is adjudicated independent from the executive arm of government. Tasmania and Australia’s highest courts have each now considered Ms Neill-Fraser’s case in great detail. It is important that the courts’ decisions be respected. For me not to do so would undermine the rule of law and the judiciary.

    Thank you again for raising this matter with me personally.

    Yours sincerely

    Hon Elise Archer MP
    Minister for Justice
    Minister for Corrections and Rehabilitation

    Lynn Giddings, in her letter to the A-G, mentioned Elise Archer’s intercession in the matter of the death of Jari Wise. In the case of Susan Neill-Fraser, our Attorney-General mentions the separation of powers, her responsibility to uphold the rule of law and to ensure that cases are “adjudicated independent from the executive arm of government.”

    Contrast that with the following intervention:

    4 May 2023

    Elise Archer, Attorney General
    Attorney-General to direct Jari Wise coronial inquest

    Today, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in relation to the application by Ms Faith Tkalac under section 26(2) of the Coroners Act 1995 which sought an order that the Coroner hold an inquest into the death of Mr Jari Wise.

    The Court has determined not to make an order that an inquest be held.

    Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Elise Archer, was necessarily a party to the proceedings.

    “As Attorney-General, part of my role is non-political to act in the public interest, including taking steps to assist the Court to make a decision in circumstances where there is only one party. It was necessary for me to be a party to these proceedings to act in the public interest to assist the Court to make a decision given these circumstances existed,” the Attorney-General said.

    “I am deeply concerned and acknowledge the impact of these proceedings on the family and friends of Mr Wise.

    “As a party to the proceedings and given that the matter was already listed before the Court, it was appropriate for me to wait for the Court to make a determination.

    “I have personally monitored the Court’s proceedings and have given careful consideration to this matter while awaiting the Court’s decision.

    In light of that consideration, and following today’s Supreme Court decision, I have determined to exercise my powers under s 24(1)(g) of the Coroners Act to direct the Coroner to hold an inquest into the death of Mr Wise.

    “I have not made this decision lightly, but it is my sincere belief that this will assist Mr Wise’s loved ones to find the answers that they seek.”


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.