Folbigg’s lawyer (also) questions the system

It has taken two lawyers working pro bono, lifelong friends who won’t give up, experts who worked for free, strong supporters behind the scenes and much more. What does this say about our system if we need all of this support to get one person the justice they deserve, asks Rhanee Rego, Kathleen Folbigg’s lawyer. It’s not so much a question as an accusation; the system and especially the appellate mechanisms, are not fit for purpose. 

In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph’s Cydonee Mardon (11/2/24), Rego says “It’s been all so consuming, but that’s what it takes. It takes a group of good, committed people dedicated to help. What that reflects on is not kudos for me, it’s a reflection of how bad our review system is structured.

Rhanee Rego

Over the 20 years of her incarceration, Folbigg had 17 different judges “sit in judgment of her”. “Most people hated her. It was a very unpopular cause, so unpopular that I feared we would never obtain justice for Kathleen,” Rego said. She is uncomfortable accepting glory for what she has achieved, despite being instrumental in securing Folbigg’s unconditional pardon after 20 years in jail and setting her client up for potentially the biggest payout in Australian criminal history.


 Rego is far from a lone voice on the failures of our justice system. Former High Court judge Michael Kirby and Flinders University legal academic Dr Bob Moles, to take two examples, have repeatedly criticised the appellate structures around the country in particular.

Rego’s observation also echoes former Tasmanian Premier and Attorney-General, Lara Giddings. Writing in the foreword to Andrew L. Urban’s latest book on the infamous Sue Neill-Fraser (wrongful) murder conviction, The Exoneration Papers – Sue Neill-Fraser she says:Miscarriages of Justice are fought and won not just by the person who has been wronged, but by the dedicated team of people around them who refuse to give up until justice is served. Sue Neill-Fraser has such a team around her; from pro bono defence lawyers to a former prosecutor, from legal academics to a former Premier and Attorney-General, from social workers to a psychologist film maker, from family and friends to the 36,000 Australians who have signed a petition wanting the case reviewed. One of these people is Andrew Urban, a Sydney-based journalist, who is not interested in merely feeding the hungry beast of daily news, but follows through a story: unpicking, analysing and retelling the story in an easy to read, logical and enlightening way.”

“This is a story, however, not just about Sue Neill-Fraser, but about the collateral damage to those around her; people trying to help, challenging the status quo, and instead finding themselves the subject of the law. After years of long-drawn-out legal action, charges and cases have been dropped, but not before almost breaking the people involved, both financially and emotionally. People have had to sell their homes, move their families, and engage legal representation to fight for their own innocence and reputation, all because in some way they tried to help Sue.

“The Sue Neill-Fraser case has been more about a system determined to maintain the conviction than a system looking for the truth. The sad part of this case is that it has led to an undermining of confidence and trust in our justice system.”


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10 Responses to Folbigg’s lawyer (also) questions the system

  1. Robert Greenshields says:

    Another interesting news item from NSW today in relation to another policing officer facing two charges after a Coroners interception of legal and investigative proceedings and sent a case back to the DPP for further investigation. Australia is in a perilous state while the status quo of manipulating legal and judicial systems is maintained by supposed credible authorities and institutions.

    • Robert Greenshields says:

      ………and that’s on top of the news a bit over a week ago of an ex NSW police officer being gaoled for in excess of a decade after taking advantage of an under-age girl, and fundamentally misusing his position in the community for his own gratification. Though, I believe, it is extremely responsible for sections of the media and credible investigative journalists to readily report on such appalling cases, along with others that involve policing criminality, the very fact that the reports are so frequent more than illustrates massive problems within our nations police forces, and the justice system in general.

  2. Brian Johnston says:

    Change will not occur by simply discussing matters.
    Kirby is a man on the inside with considerable access to others and with the connections to exercise persuasion and bring about change. Nothing.
    Putting Kirby on a pedestal has achieved nothing.
    Moles to busy trying to be an academic. Has a university and considerable resources at his disposal. Nothing. Got a guilty person out of gaol a year earlier who the received $2.5 million. We can argue about Keogh all day and it will not help.
    A great way to fix the mess is a civil case. Go after the psychopath Tedeschi.
    Remember the spear throw in the Gordon Woods case?
    the framing of Ivan Milat.

    Sadly the supporters of Sue Neill-Fraser did not protest outside the Courthouse when her trials were on. By being ‘polite’ nothing was achieved.
    We hear nothing from Sue’s family which causes nagging doubts to move in.

    A civil case is required.

    • Peter Gill says:

      Let’s see – is Sue Neill Fraser’s family supportive of her?

      Sue’s daughter Sarah Bowles appears frequently in the media in support of her mum. This video from a rally of support on 26 or 27 January 2024 is one of many examples:

      Sarah’s husband Mark Bowles is a Sue supporter, from his appearance in the movie Shadow of a Doubt years ago through to a rally a few weeks ago.

      Sue Neill Fraser’s first husband Brett Meeker constantly supports Sue’s innocence in public, including in the last few weeks.

      Brett Meeker’s mum Sydne Ketcham is a supporter – read what she had to say on 26 January 2024 at

      Sue’s other daughter Emma Fraser-Meeker supports Sue. Her support features in some of the articles at

      Sue Neill-Fraser’s family members are all supportive of her, and always have been.

      Kathleen Folbigg’s step-parents are supportive of her, and always have been.

      Gordon Wood’s family members are all supportive of him, and always have been.

  3. Dee Harris says:

    The Injustice System thrives and appears to be worsening. Urgent action needs to be taken. Anyone who believes that a judge only trial will be fairer should be advised to do more research before committing to this option. The mateship I observed between policies, DPP, Court staff, Judge, Solicitor for both prosecution and defence was sickening whilst supporting a young defendant. Intimidation by police sitting beside complainants in the waiting areas outside the court and beside supporters of the defendant inside the court was all one-sided.

  4. Pv says:

    The nightmare continues. Exculpatory evidence is ignored by police , then they present a brief to the DPP who see the same issues and ignore. How on earth have we come to this? In NSW at least , the word Tedeschi could explain much. The students of this man picked up his ways and still run with it.
    Then of course there’s the appeal system. Say no more ! When the high court becomes the home of judges who failed in lower courts …. The refusal of an appeal 3 to 2 does not just say a slim majority of one , denied an appeal or even leave to appeal. It should also ask , were the two right and the 3 wrong ? If you need a unanimous verdict from a jury , perhaps the same should apply to a panel of judges. A minority can often be the right ones . Look what 2 of 3 judges in the CCA did to George Pell . In that case the dissenting judge was right. “Better a thousand guilty men go free than one innocent man in prison. “”I will use that quote after every comment I make “ it is the ultimate test . PV

  5. Peter Gill says:

    Rhanee is so right when she says:” it’s a reflection of how bad our review system is structured.”

    I’m currently reading “Wrongful Convictions in Australia” (2023) by Stephen Cordner and Kerry Breen. In the book’s introduction, Michael Kirby wrote: “The Courts of Criminal Appeal are truly the workhorses of Australian superior courts….. Inevitably, some judges are more capable than others in coping with this pressure. Additionally, some judges are more intellectually willing to find error than others. This is especially so where most judges are defensive of the imputed qualities of inerrancy of the jury…. Such judges … simply reflect particular legal values. This is an inescapable feature of all human decision-making.”

    Bravo. Putting aside that I had to look up “inerrancy” in the dictionary, that sums up why we need change – we need a CCRC, we need it now, and we need personnel high up in the CCRC who are not the sort of judges who reflect particular outdated legal values.

    Cordner and Breen’s book is about solutions to the problem. It should be widely read. Sadly, I’m the very first person to borrow the book from Bondi Library though the book has been there for months. I wish there were more people of significant standing who – like Tom Bathurst in the Folbigg case after its litany of judicial failures – listen closely so that they can see the forest from the trees.

  6. Christine Moore says:

    The police investigation system needs an overall. The juridical system needs an overall. Getting rid of corrupt cops should be a priority. There are so many people in this country who have been sentenced to years in jail for crimes they never committed. In every Australian state! Sue-Neil Fraser is released but not still not exonerated. Kathleen Folbigg spent a great deal of her life locked up for a crime she never committed. Andrew Mallard jailed for years for a crime her never committed now deceased. There are many more. This all needs to change now

  7. gail yvonne churchill says:

    disgracful behaviours from those who are supposedly protecting us…… the case of Susan Neill-Fraser it seems to be more like protecting themselves……..our heroic legal and justice system……not forgetting the lack of skills in policing in the state of Tasmania…and the bias shown before and throughout her trial. Should we also address the physical and mental competency of Gunston SC…….as his behaviour from the outset impacted on her getting a fair trial……. should he have even been practicing due to his own health issues.

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