The truth will out – with help from Sodium Pentothal

Andrew L. Urban

I suspect* that Hobart grandmother Sue Neill-Fraser, convicted** in 2010 of murdering her partner of 18 years Bob Chappell, whose body has never been found, can’t wait to be injected with the truth drug Sodium Pentothal that has been proposed by two senior barristers as a way to force convicted killers to reveal the bodies of their victims and give closure to the families of victims. Trial judge Alan Blow (now Tasmania’s Chief Justice) handed Sue Neill-Fraser an extra long sentence for not revealing that information. (The appeal court chided him, ever so respectfully, and took three years off the 26 year sentence he imposed.)

As she claims to be innocent of the murder, Neill-Fraser could not disclose the body’s location even with the drug in her veins. She would thus confirm her ignorance of the body’s whereabouts – thus effectively proving her innocence.

The proposal is not primarily aimed at those who are wrongfully convicted but at those killers who defy the court and refuse to reveal the location of their dead victims.

“Two of Australia’s leading criminal defence barristers have backed the use of a chemical truth serum to force convicted murderers to provide details on where they stashed their victims’ bodies,” The Australian reported (24/8/23). “Former NSW crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen and Victorian barrister Sharon Kermath say governments should at least trial the serum on criminals who have refused to give families peace.”

The drug, which is used by law enforcement in some Indian states but in no other democracies, is a chemical that slows neural connections, lowers inhibitions and reduces one’s capacity to lie.

Margaret Cunneen SC, who now acts as a defence barrister, told The Australian use of the chemical to learn key details about convicted criminals’ offences was “a great idea”.

“I think it might find some favour now … for the good of the victims,” she said. Ms Cunneen emphasised the importance of the chemicals to not be used for “self-incrimination” and said protections should be put in place to ensure it was only used following a conviction. “There could be this protection which covers (the offender) which means it can’t be used to punish them, but it can be used to find information about others or about locations of bodies and so forth,” she said. “If it was my daughter’s body missing forever I’d want it, too. I suppose the fundamental resistance to it comes from people being forced to give evidence against themselves. In a sense, that’s what it is. It goes against the right not to incriminate oneself.”

The flip side of the truth drug idea is the potential for the innocent to show their innocence. In fact, that is an even better use of the serum; it avoids the risk of self incrimination and potentially relieves the justice system of costly and stressful trials that result in wrongful convictions. And any actual killers still at large.

Sue Neill-Fraser (with family dog Archie)

Hypothetically, with no body found during the pretrial phase, with Sue Neill-Fraser claiming her innocence and the case against her purely circumstantial, she would be offered an injection of sodium pentothal prior to questioning about the missing body. Given these very specific circumstances, we’d agree with the use of the drug on the relevant accused.

Discuss …

*I would ask her but she is prohibited from speaking about her case to media as part of her parole conditions.

**Andrew L. Urban’s new book, The Exoneration Papers – Sue Neill-Fraser (Wilkinson) details why the conviction is wrongful.

Urban co-authored with Cunneen The Boxing Butterfly, about Cunneen’s career.

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17 Responses to The truth will out – with help from Sodium Pentothal

  1. Father Ted Whalensky says:

    Andrew -Sodium Pentathol injected in a innocents bum by the heroic Policeymens – restrained on a rack and a bit of an encouraging stretch for good measure .
    A 20000 volt voltage cattle prod for the DPPs Scrotum – upon the eventual finding of innocents – his screenplay was just spanners and screwdrivers for his Moronic Appeals Court friends .

  2. Father Ted Whalensky says:

    My consumption of Budweiser Ethanol most often causes me to forget where I parked the panzercampfwagen – Yet have little trouble lying my guts out to the adorable maidenfuhren – if my drink was spiked with Sodium Pentothal – kaputt for me ?

  3. John S says:

    It would be nice to have such a magic fool-proof method of obtaining the full truth, but as yet we don’t have it. Nor do we have next week’s winning lottery numbers!

    There is always much danger in relying on such ‘magical methods’, they should never be considered fool-proof, only fools would believe that! There is always a risk of it finding yet another unclear result, which would have a perverse outcome affect (similar to pleading guilty just to get a reduced sentence when one is not guilty, it may not reduce the sentence by much, & then always leaves the stigma of ‘guilt’, or worse that you lied by pleading guilty!).

    Then there are the possible health affects. It could be very harmful for a person with a condition such as MS to take such a substance, and be of no help at all if it simply finds nothing new.

    • Charles says:

      Have you heard of Event Related Potentials (ERP’s) and their application in Brain fingerprinting?

      Brain fingerprinting is an objective, scientific method to detect concealed information stored in the brain by measuring electroencephalographic (EEG) brain responses, or brainwaves, non-invasively by sensors placed on the scalp.

  4. Lookoutsmithers says:

    Ha, I had no idea about this ! This site always nets me a great read.
    Narco-analysis is banned in most democracies around the world……. isn’t it? How would evidence obtained via that method even make it to an Australian court? Unless there are new discoveries about this barbiturate I’m not aware of, and it really isn’t the stuff of science fiction? Margaret Cunneen is obviously a highly experienced, and skilled trial councillor, and she also has no problem making her political views known to all, albeit outside the court room while still working for DPP. Nowadays though, it wouldn’t surprise me if she turned up to front the media wearing a bright red cap with the slogan ‘Make America great again’. The idea that such a practice would have a place in the courts is simply a treasonable one.
    So picture this for a story line. In the future, there are massive stores , multiple football fields in length, where you can buy solutions for any and all of the worlds problems. They all happen to be packaged in small glass jars and all come in the tablet and or capsule form.

    • Father Ted Whalensky says:

      Look out ! Smuthers – SodiumPentothal use is regarded as Torture in “decent” Countries – even water boarding USA ! Go for it Australian DPPs. Shot in ya bum – hang me ya carnes – couldn’t care less !
      Law Degrees rule – OK ! Hang that ethical rubbish – Tasmaniac AG ?

  5. Countess Antonia Maria Violetta Scrivanich says:

    I agree with Owen Allen’s “Tasmania Police culture of evil, hooked in with politicians and judiciary “. Biggest mistake of my life to come to live in Tasmania ! A brutal murder of a young woman occurred inTasmania. Two years later we arrived on a flying visit seeking a place to live. We had absolutely no knowledge of the murder which had not been reported in SA. Not far from where that murder took place 2 years before , I was chased by a man. I ran for my life to find my husband. We decided not to live anywhere near there ! I gave a voluntary written statement to police a few years ago and was finger-printed even though I was never in Tasmania when the murder took place ! The Leader of the Oposition has written twice since February 2023 to Attorney-General , Elise Archer , for an explanation why I was finger-printed ? NO REPLY ! Are they holding my finger-print to try to frame me for some other crime I never committed ?

    • Father Ted Whalensky says:

      The AG needs a needle full of Sodium Pentathol ( do they get it in the bum) She may then explain please – She might even locate the infamous DNA blue cloth – getting a bit excited here- must be the ethanol ?

  6. Williambtm says:

    Thank you, Owen Allen, for your comment tying in all 3 State institutions in the State of Tasmania…They acting as an ‘anti all common citizen’s fighting force.
    This same applies to the State of Western Australia under the stamp of the W.A. Attorney General.
    That State’s Supreme Court is also alleged to deliver their decision in the best interests of their State Public Trustee.
    Please be advised that my statements of truth disclosure must not be considered as a breach of any kind, for my claims & statements are strictly the truth.

    Furthermore, the current appointed Attorney’s General holding of office in both the aforementioned State’s of Australia, have demonstrated their dishonest wholly improper decisions handed down by their Supreme Court, are ever in favour of their State’s Public Trustee.
    Each of our nation’s State Attorney General’s office is naturally supported by the political party office, each & every time it arises that their State’s Public Trustee especially when they have sequestered the home of another of their elderly & or disabled person’s (then referred to as State Captured protected persons.)
    State Guardianship Boards & State Tribunals are the main support base underlying the appointment as the Public Trustee administrator of each protected person’s financial estate liquid assets.
    Then the conglomerate of protected persons cash holdings and the property sale
    proceeds, are then invested for the benefit of that State’s Public Trustee… To extract their horrendous percentile commissions and their action/ing fees.

    ‘The larger in monetary value’ estates, the higher are the commissions and account keeping fees.
    Forget that these State government agencies that have afflicted each of their State’s agencies protected persons (elderly & disabled) in being denied their Human Rights, as are accorded to every State or countries citizens by the United Nation’s Charter of Human Rights.

  7. Rodger Warren says:

    It is hard to disclose the location of a body when you don’t know where it is.
    I would prefer a Federal Criminal Cases Review Commission which can look at unsafe convictions throughout Australia.
    I am convinced the truth will eventually come out in the disappearance of Bob Chappell, however I may not be alive to see it.
    Rodger Warren

    • Chrissy says:

      Similar to the case of Kelli Lane accused of murdering her baby in 2010. No body but a jury found her guilty and she is just due for parole now. She claims her innocence.

  8. Williambtm says:

    I have read up on certain Tasmanian Supreme Court cases to find a number had been incorrectly adjudged.
    Simply a matter of withholding essential evidence, or better still, advise the Police Commissioner that on a 2nd reading of the available evidence (one finds certain case evidence has been removed.)
    Particularly criminal case matters, best approach is to lose available evidence hence will not necessarily gain a verdict of guilty beyond all doubt.

    Fair to say this strategy worked when used to cancel proceedings against 100 known Tasmanian persons, to avoid a charge of underage sex or pedophilia if you like, it happened to be a 12 year old prostitute, with her mothers agreement.
    The record of the 100 names had miraculously disappeared.
    However the original police list must yet be available?

  9. Ruth Graham says:

    A murderer may well not know where the body is. Someone else might have disposed of it . Sounds like a risky business seeking the truth through “truth serum”. Why even bother with trials if such an economical alternative is available to get to the heart of the matter.

  10. Fiona Peate says:

    I am a sceptic on the use of supposed ‘truth serum’ drugs. Democracies do not condone their use for this purpose. I also think that information provided under the influence of drugs would have to be inadmissible in a court of law. I am totally opposed to use of what I believe is flawed practice. I used to be an anaesthetic nurse & never observed any so called truth following administration of these anaesthetic agents.
    Much better to have a robust review process to prove miscarriage of justice.

  11. Ross Cameron says:

    “a chemical that slows neural connections, lowers inhibitions and reduces one’s capacity to lie”
    I think that the qualification above (“Reduces one’s capacity to lie) is a lawyers picnic. In other words, the results of such a process would invite the counter argument on how is one’s REDUCED capacity to lie versus one’s ABSOLUTE capacity to lie to be measured. Indeed, how successful are current (speech prompted) lie detectors in establishing guilt or otherwise. I cannot recall a Judicial direction regarding them in such a case argument.
    One way to “test” the efficacy of such a process would be to force it upon never-to-be- released serial killers who are unwilling to reveal where their victims remains are.

  12. Owen Allen says:

    I could have some Sodium Pentothal too, Andrew. Detectives refuting my claim that I was strangled on duty as a taxi driver by a stock broker protected by Tasmania Police. And the uniform police claimed my 2 statements conflicted.
    They are so steadfast in their lies, it is their culture; Tasmania Police culture of evil, hooked in with politicians and judiciary.
    Sodium Pentothal aside; there are people who are silent of the truth in my life and Sue Neill-Fraser, and how many others in Tasmania.

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