Until Meaghan Vass is tested in court as to the events of that night, all the appeals are a waste of time and resources.Posted by Harry on 25/03/18 at 11:20 AM
Don’t you know about the “Weatherbeaten Man”? Meaghan did not fit the description.Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 25/03/18 at 01:39 PM
With no body, no murder weapon, and no serious attempt to seriously examine the Meaghan Vass evidence, the case against Neill-Fraser is as far from “beyond reasonable doubt” as one of Vlad Putin’s claims to perfect innocence.
John HaywardPosted by john hayward on 25/03/18 at 03:13 PM
There was no body or murder weapon to convict Bradley John Murdoch for the 2001 murder of Peter Falconio in Northern Territory. He was convicted by a hair tie in his procession that belonged to Ms Lees.
I assume the SNF supporters are putting as much energy into freeing that “innocent” man?Posted by John Wiseman on 25/03/18 at 05:00 PM
For the Tasmanians who aren’t aware of critical bit of information because it wasn’t included in the Shadow of Doubt doco
A middle aged person was spotted on a motorised light coloured dinghy in the vicinity of Four Winds at around 7:45 pm - 8:30 pm on the Australia Day 2009. That person has not yet come forward to identify himself/herself. The description of that person did not at all fit Meaghan.
Why are Neill-Fraser supporters (and her legal team) picking on an innocent person (Meaghan) who did not fit the description of the sighted person and in my opinion was never on-board Four Winds because someone else who fits the description of the sighted person was on Four Winds.
Here is the critical information that most of Neill-Fraser’s supporters aren’t aware off unless they read my earlier comments on this matter:
#4, #6, #14 and #18
Whilst you are puzzled about it all you might as well check out
#573, #577 and #578Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 25/03/18 at 06:43 PM
#4, Wiseman ... Yes, but there was a good deal of evidence connecting the documented nasty Murdoch to an assault on Falconio’s partner, as well as previous victims, in circumstances particularly without alternative explanations or suspects.
The prosecution in the Murdoch case seemed to have expended considerably more time and diligence in that case.
John HaywardPosted by john hayward on 25/03/18 at 08:22 PM
#6, Hayward ... Yes your points make sense for Murdoch but you might be ignoring similar points for SNF. For example “particularly without alternative explanations or suspects. “
Could you explain where ‘nasty’ SNF was on the evening of the night she murdered her husband. No one knows .. there is your lack of an alternative explanation.
Previous victims .. well 2 people witness her asking to kill her brother and her husband.Posted by John Wiseman on 26/03/18 at 07:43 AM
Still no explanation for the DNA found on the vessel.
I would think if Meaghan Vass was not involved in any way with these events, some sort of proof should be presented at the appeal.
A bit of evidence would give this whole story a little credibility.Posted by Harry on 26/03/18 at 09:36 AM
The attempted perversion of justice to free the murderer should be enough for SNF supporters to lie low and await the further revelations from the police that will emerge. But then who wants to admit that their friend has murdered her partner?Posted by Richard Kopf on 26/03/18 at 11:30 AM
“Still no explanation for the DNA found on the vessel.”
I beg you pardon!
The state did give an explanation at the trial (Vass DNA was most probably brought onto the walkway of the deck of Four Winds right next to the starboard entrance gate via a substance on the bottom of someone’s shoe) but wasn’t able to prove it. You don’t believe it. Too bad.
“I would think if Meaghan Vass was not involved in any way with these events, some sort of proof should be presented at the appeal.
Are you serious?
Meaghan does not have to prove anything!
If some of you don’t believe that her DNA on Four Winds was as a result of secondary transfer then it is up to you to prove it.
It is up to Sue’s legal team (via whatever scientific expertise they can get) to provide scientific evidence that the transfer was not secondary. The forensic scientist from Victoria has not provided scientific evidence that it could not have been secondary transfer.
“A bit of evidence would give this whole story a little credibility.”
Sure. Why don’t you ask:
1. Who was the person that was spotted leaving the area of Four Winds on Australia Day 2009 at around 7:45 pm - 8:30 pm on a light coloured motorised dinghy, and why hasn’t that person yet come forward to identify himself/herself?
2. Where was Sue and what was she doing during the unexplained 5 hours (4 pm to 9pm) on Australia Day 2009.
3. Why did Sue change her story several times about what she did late that night after 11 pm?Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 26/03/18 at 12:07 PM
Meaghan’s statement to police in 2012
For those who might not be aware:
In 2012, Neill-Fraser’s then solicitor (Barbara Etter) requested that police seek a further statement from Meaghan (beyond what she had stated at Sue’s trial). The police did obtain a statement from Meaghan. This is what Meaghan stated in 2012:
. She had never been to Sandy Bay;
. She had never been on any yacht in her life;
. She never went onto the Four Winds;
. She had no idea how her DNA came to be on the boat;
. She did not recall having any property stolen or removed that may have had contact with the boat;
. She had not been at the waterfront at any time that she could remember.
This is the link to the relevant blog of Barbara Etter’s website
Note: you will see my comment at the bottom of Mrs Etter’s blog where I challenged her 2014 statement “there should now be substantial doubt about the safety of the Sue Neill-Fraser murder conviction.”Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 26/03/18 at 02:42 PM
In reputable courts, a fair number of seemingly disreputable murder suspects are acquitted because a far less reasonable doubt exists. A Tasmanian wish to believe in the establishment, or dislike of skepticism, is not sufficient elsewhere.
John HaywardPosted by john hayward on 26/03/18 at 03:14 PM
#11, Hayward ... All I politely and respectively ask is this - do you know where SNF was on the evening of her husband’s disappearance?Posted by John Wiseman on 26/03/18 at 04:19 PM
#12, Wiseman ... No, I have no conclusive evidence as to where she was. Neither do you. I do have some first-hand client’s experience of Alan Blow however, which does nothing to inspire faith in his judgment in this case.
John HaywardPosted by john hayward on 26/03/18 at 07:34 PM
#13 Hayward ... The fact you don’t know where SNF was on the night she murdered Bob Chappell is the same as everybody. No one knows. She lied and lied about where she was that night. She wasn’t under duress to remember for some 4 to 5 months.
As per your criticism of Justice Blow, well he resides over the court, but he didn’t convict SNF. The jurors from the public convicted her.
Please consider the hurt your cause is doing to the victim’s family.Posted by John Wiseman on 26/03/18 at 08:51 PM
I find it peculiar that no-one seems to know the whereabouts (for many hours of the afternoon and evening of the Australia Day) of the last known person who was on Four Winds with Bob. But it shocks me that SNF’s supporters are bypassing this very troubling issue about SNF and are, in my opinion, barking up the wrong tree.
If you can’t get the answer from SNF as to her whereabouts from 4 pm to 9 pm then there is sufficient information to conclude beyond reasonable doubt that she was on Four Winds from about 2 pm to about 8 pm (i.e. it was her who was spotted on a light coloured motorised dinghy leaving the area of Four Winds at around 7:45 pm - 8:30 pm) but she wanted the police to think that she was in Bunnings during most of those hours.
No real mystery if you are aware of the “Weatherbeaten Man” who chose to keep his/her identity secret.Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 26/03/18 at 10:36 PM
#10 Dr Lozo, you say -
‘Meaghan does not have to prove anything! If some of you don’t believe that her DNA on Four Winds was as a result of secondary transfer then it is up to you to prove it’.
It’s true that Ms Vass does not have to prove anything, but in this case, as in all criminal cases, the onus is on the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’.
If the Crown seeks to rely on certain evidentiary propositions, where some or all of the evidence is circumstantial, the extant authorities generally indicate that significant elements of the prosecution case should be established beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Vass DNA is a critical element of the Neill-Fraser case. If it is primary DNA, it clearly raises the possibility that Ms Vass was on the yacht, and hence allows for an alternative explanation for the disappearance of Mr Chappell other than his murder by Ms Neill-Fraser. I understand the DNA of another unknown person was also found on the yacht, raising further alternative explanations for the crime alleged.
The DPP did not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the Vass DNA was secondary in origin - again, I remind you that the onus was on the prosecution to do this, if they sought to use it as evidence supporting their case. Neither did they establish the whereabouts of Ms Vass on the evening and night in question.
And that’s just one of many flaws in this case.
If you’re interested in an analysis of cases based on circumstantial evidence and the various authorities in this area, you might care to read a paper written by Ian Barker QC - you can find it on the Austlii website, or just Google ‘circumstantial evidence Ian Barker’.
As lead prosecutor in the Lindy and Michael Chamberlain case, Mr Barker knows a thing or two about circumstantial evidence.Posted by Invicta on 26/03/18 at 10:39 PM
#15, Wiseman. Blow CJ presided rather than resided over the trial, but he also decided to excuse Meaghan Vass from further testimony, thus prolonging the resulting uncertainty far more than a TT poster ever could.
The jurors were instructed by the judge as to what they could lawfully decide and should have been instructed as to the legal meaning of “beyond reasonable doubt”.
John HaywardPosted by john hayward on 27/03/18 at 09:16 AM
Invictis (#17) is incorrect when he relies on Chamberlain’s case concerning circumstantial evidence. It was clarified by the High Court a couple of years after that ,in Shepherd’s case, that it was only those pieces of evidence which the jury considered essential to proof of the guilt of the accused which need to be proven beyond reasonable doubt.
Megan Vass’ DNA which might have been deposited on many dates and in several ways , being accompanied by no other evidence whatsoever to suggest she was a murderer, was in no way essential to proving Neil- Fraser’s guilt. Nor was it essential to prove it was secondary transfer.
Neill-Fraser was represented by very senior and experienced lawyers. Her appeal lawyer , now a Judge, himself appeared successfully in one of the modern leading circumstantial evidence cases.
No direction was sought at trial that the jury be told they had to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the Vass DNA was secondary transfer.
It was not suggested in the Court of Criminal Appeal or in the High Court that such a direction should have been sought or given. Invictus seems to be the first and only one suggesting otherwise.Posted by Burt on 27/03/18 at 09:57 AM
#18 & #19
If you read my #11 you will see Meaghan’s statement to the police taken in 2012.
As was shown the last few months during the current appeal, the effort that two former Victorian detectives (including Mr Colin McLaren, who was brought into the case by Eve Ash in late 2016) has not provided any real witnesses who could have discredited at least one of Meaghan’s three main statements:
. She had never been to Sandy Bay;
. She had never been on any yacht in her life;
. She never went onto the Four Winds;
What did the Tasmanian’s get from McLaren’s effort? A bunch of false statutory declarations and perjured witnesses who are in the process of being sentenced or taken to trial.
It is my opinion that Eve was convinced (and probably still believes it) that Meaghan was on-board Four Winds and has directed McLaren towards a dead-end.
As for the DNA: science CANNOT tell you whether the transfer was primary or secondary.Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 27/03/18 at 12:22 PM
Further to my last post #20 in relation to Mr McLaren’s effort:
1. Not only didn’t McLaren find a single witness to discredit Meaghan’s 2012 statements he did not even find a witness who could link Meaghan and Mr Wroe (the itinerant man who was several months ago during the appeal hearing accused by another witness to be a “serial murderer”)
2. Here is a 2014 Police statement about Mr Wroe:
The itinerant man who has been recorded under various spellings of the surname Roe (Wroe, Roe and Rowe.) became known to police but was never a suspect. After the conviction, he was identified as someone who may have been in the area on that night. He was interviewed and volunteered his DNA. His DNA and fingerprints were checked against any outstanding forensic exhibits from the ‘Four Winds’ – with no match. This man informed police that he was leaving the state.
SeePosted by Dr Peter Lozo on 27/03/18 at 01:07 PM
Man pleads guilty to perverting course of justice over his evidence
“Mr Shapiro told the court Gleeson had a number of visitors to Risdon Prison during 2017.
They included Neill-Fraser’s then lawyer Barbara Etter, private detective Colin McLaren and lawyer Jeffrey Thompson.
Mr Shapiro told the court the private detective was working for documentary filmmaker Eve Ash. Ash did not personally visit Gleeson in prison.”
“Mr Shapiro told the court that a group of investigators involved with the Neill-Fraser case, “believed if Gleeson identified Devine that would be compelling evidence to lodge a second appeal”.
For more info regarding yesterday’s news please seePosted by Dr Peter Lozo on 27/03/18 at 02:44 PM
#19 Burt ... You say - ‘Invictis (#17) is incorrect when he relies on Chamberlain’s case concerning circumstantial evidence. It was clarified by the High Court a couple of years after that ,in Shepherd’s case, that it was only those pieces of evidence which the jury considered essential to proof of the guilt of the accused which need to be proven beyond reasonable doubt’.
First, at no point did I rely on the Chamberlain case to support my comment. I merely referred Dr Lozo to a comprehensive analysis of the authorities on circumstantial evidence written by the lead prosecutor in that case, Ian Barker QC. Given Mr Barker’s involvement in the original conviction of the Chamberlains, and subsequent events, he has a clear motivation to consider the issue of circumstantial evidence in some detail.
Second, as you note, Shepherd v The Queen (1990) - a so-called ‘links in the chain’ case - determined that in a circumstantial case any facts or facts fundamental to the process of reasoning to a conclusion of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt must themselves be proved beyond a reasonable doubt by the Crown.
Given the complete lack of direct evidence in the Neill-Fraser case - as we all know, there was no forensic evidence establishing the accused’s guilt, as well as no body, and no motive beyond mere speculation - the burden fell to the prosecution to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt based on a series of disjointed ‘facts’ and incomplete information.
The presence of Ms Vass’ DNA on the yacht is a significant piece of information. It clearly raises the possibility of a hypothesis of the circumstances of Mr Chappell’s disappearance and assumed murder other than Ms Neill-Fraser’s guilt. If the prosecution wished to dismiss this evidence as irrelevant, following Shepherd they should have established, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the DNA was not primary in origin, and that Ms Vass’ exact whereabouts at the time of commission of the crime were known.
That Ms Neill-Fraser’s legal team did not raise this issue, either at trial or on appeal, and insist Ms Vass and her DNA be thoroughly investigated, and did not seek to have the jury directed to satisfy themselves the DNA was transferred via secondary means, does not mean this course was correct.
Arguably, it would have greatly assisted the Crown case if they had definitively eliminated the possibility of Ms Vass’ involvement in this crime. But, we still don’t know where she was on the night in question, allowing any reasonable person to continue to speculate about her role in Mr Chappell’s disappearance.
Why did the prosecution not eliminate this ongoing uncertainty?Posted by Invicta on 27/03/18 at 11:11 PM
As you are probably aware I do not have a legal background. Hence why I don’t get involved in discussing legal technicalities of any of the cases I researched over the past 6 years (Keogh, Wood, Neill-Fraser, Avery and Dassey).
You say “Arguably, it would have greatly assisted the Crown case if they had definitively eliminated the possibility of Ms Vass’ involvement in this crime.” I agree with that.
But the real question is: was the State required by law to prove beyond reasonable doubt in this wholly circumstantial case that Ms Vass was not on-board the yacht on the night in question in order to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the accused was guilty?
Burt says “it was only those pieces of evidence which the jury considered essential to proof of the guilt of the accused which need to be proven beyond reasonable doubt.”
So, if you don’t think that Burt has the correct interpretation of the law concerning circumstantial cases (and I don’t know that he does given my non-legal background) the onus is on you to explain to us whether you disagree with his statement and why.Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 28/03/18 at 08:59 AM
#24 ... Dr Lozo, did you read this part of comment #23 ...
‘The presence of Ms Vass’ DNA on the yacht is a significant piece of information. It clearly raises the possibility of a hypothesis of the circumstances of Mr Chappell’s disappearance and assumed murder other than Ms Neill-Fraser’s guilt. If the prosecution wished to dismiss this evidence as irrelevant, following Shepherd they should have established, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the DNA was not primary in origin, and that Ms Vass’ exact whereabouts at the time of commission of the crime were known’.
Burt refers to Shepherd v The Queen (1990) where the relevant standard for ‘links in a chain’ circumstantial cases is basically as he describes it .. ‘it was only those pieces of evidence which the jury considered essential to proof of the guilt of the accused which need to be proven beyond reasonable doubt’.
I would suggest a properly directed jury would need to be satisfied Ms Vass was NOT involved in the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. This would require a thorough investigation of the DNA evidence and an irrefutable determination of Ms Vass’ whereabouts at the time the crime was committed.
Have you read Mr Barker’s paper yet? I highly recommend it.Posted by Invicta on 28/03/18 at 03:02 PM
PART I of two parts
This is a bit lengthy as I have copied a a summary of my analysis of the Vass issue from another TT post.
I had a quick read through that paper you referred me to. It was difficult for me to interpret the paper even though I read a lot about circumstantial cases since Feb 2012 when I met Dr Bob Moles and got really interested in the Henry Keogh case. I also read your comment in detail. All I wanted to know from that paper and from this current communication is one simple thing:
Was there a legal requirement for the State to prove BRD that Ms Vass was not on-board Four Winds on the night in question in order for the State to prosecute Ms Neill-Fraser and to prove her guilt BRD?
When you first commented on this blog I was thinking along the same lines as what Burt wrote in the last two paragraphs in his #19:
“No direction was sought at trial that the jury be told they had to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the Vass DNA was secondary transfer.
It was not suggested in the Court of Criminal Appeal or in the High Court that such a direction should have been sought or given.”
The above tells me that because several well qualified defence attorneys did not question the issue that you are raising that perhaps the law did not require the State to prove BRD that Ms Vass was not on Four Winds on the night in question in order to prosecute Ms Neill-Fraser and to prove her guilt BRD.
But I do understand and fully agree with you that the presence of Ms Vass’ DNA on the yacht is a significant piece of information and that it “clearly raises the possibility of a hypothesis of the circumstances of Mr Chappell’s disappearance and assumed murder other than .. “. So, in my mind, the issue is: is this just a possibility or is it a reasonable possibility because if it is a reasonable possibility then I think that the State would have had to prove BRD that Ms Vass wasn’t on board the yacht on the relevant evening. I actually went through the analysis of this very issue quite some time ago and have summarised it on another TT post.
I concluded that whilst it was a possibility that Ms Vass was on Four-Winds on the night in question it wasn’t what I would consider to be a reasonable possibility. For your convenience (and for the convenience of the other readers of this blog) below I copy from
#446Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 29/03/18 at 11:31 AM
PART II of two parts
1. The police haven’t found any (personal) link between MV and Bob Chappell.
2. No motive was found to implicate MV.
3. MV’s fingerprints weren’t found on the Four Winds yacht nor on its dinghy.
4. MV’s belongings weren’t found on the Four Winds yacht nor its dinghy.
5. MV’s DNA wasn’t found on the Four Winds dinghy.
6. MV’s hair based DNA wasn’t found on the Four Winds yacht nor on its dinghy.
7. MV stated that she was never on the Four Winds yacht.
8. MV’s DNA wasn’t found on Neill-Fraser’s red jacket.
9. MV’s DNA wasn’t wasn’t found on the personal radio beacon that belonged to Four Winds yacht (same for her fingerprints).
10. The records at the Mara House showed that MV left that day (26th Jan) at 3:50 pm. At about this time (at 3:55 pm) Paul Conde and his cousins went past the Four Winds yacht and saw a grey/battleship grey/dark grey dinghy tethered to the yacht on its portside. It was very choppy.
Note: I am assuming that once the police were informed about MV’s DNA on the deck of Four Winds that they took an active interest in seeking more information from the forensic experts whether her fingerprints, hair, etc were found on the yacht, the dinghy, etc., in order to determine if there was any other evidence to corroborate with the single DNA sample from the deck.
On the basis of the above, we can conclude that besides the DNA from location 11 on the Four Winds yacht there is no other known evidence that links MV to the Four Winds yacht (or any other property that belonged to Neill-Fraser and Bob Chappell).
It is also worthwhile here to include an email from Mr Grosser (the DNA analyst) to a detective concerning MV’s DNA on the deck (pages 769-770):
“There was an area, the black outline in the photos, of positive luminol which suggests the presence of blood. However, our testing of the swab taken from the area was negative for the blood screening test, suggesting that we cannot confirm the presence of blood. Given the strong DNA profile that we obtained from this swab, I’d suggest that this is indicative of the presence of a relatively large amount of DNA which is more likely to come from bodily fluids, blood, saliva, than a simple contact touching event. So basically we cannot say of any certainty where the DNA may have come from. The positive luminol result suggests that the source have been blood, and the fact that this was an external surface means there may have been washing or weathering events that have prevented us from being able to definitively identify the presence of blood. More complex scenarios such the luminol result, coming from an older event, e.g. an old stain which has been overlaid by more recent events, which is where the DNA came from, e.g. spitting on the deck cannot also be ruled out. I hope this makes sense.”
It is clear from the above that Mr Gosser believed, on the basis of a strong DNA profile, that the DNA was most likely from a liquid source. The VPFSD report also stated that the DNA was likely to be from a liquid source.
It remains for me to analyse the potential time periods that MV could have had to board the yacht on the afternoon 26th - early morning 27th without being spotted. I will do this for the sake of completeness of my analysis and will provide the summary of the analysis in the near future.
Ps: I have read a lot of what Dr Moles wrote on this case and on the Henry Keogh case (he has a very extensive database on his Networked Knowledge website; also an excellent collection of references to some psychological and scientific papers that are of relevance to legal matters, particularly on the unreliability of eyewitnesses, etc). So, I guess that l ought to understand more about circumstantial cases than an average person. In fact, I noticed in your last two posts that the way you are expressing your legal opinion is so very similar to his. But it still doesn’t answer my fundamental question in terms that I can understand.Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 29/03/18 at 11:36 AM
#18, John ... You write “The jurors were instructed by the judge as to what they could lawfully decide and should have been instructed as to the legal meaning of ‘beyond reasonable doubt.’”
My research, together with personal experience, says that presiding judges will not go anywhere near clarification of “beyond reasonable doubt” to jury members.Posted by Geraldine Allan on 29/03/18 at 12:19 PM
#18, John ... further to my previous comment, maybe this is the reason why judges don’t go close to explaining “beyond reasonable doubt”?
Green v R  HCA 55; (1971) 126 CLR 28 (16 November 1971)
“... So, the question is, what is that particular standard?
The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research conducted a study in 2008 on what people understood by the phrase “beyond reasonable doubt”. They surveyed 1200 people who had been jurors in criminal trials across the state. The results are important:
55.4% of the jurors believed that the phrase meant that they needed to be “sure” that the person was guilty;
22.9% believed it meant “almost sure”;
11.6% believed it meant “very likely”; and
10.1% believed it meant “pretty likely”.
As BOCSAR’s report wryly noted:
That is quite a wide spread of opinion.
The report also suggested that some clarification ought to be given to juries on what the phrase meant. A jury direction would be the obvious way of providing this clarification.
Judges are not supposed to give juries any clarification. The phrase ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ is not to be explained beyond its words. As the Court said in Green v R  HCA 55; (1971) 126 CLR 28 (16 November 1971) judges adhere to, and not attempt needless explanations of the classical statement of the nature of the onus of proof resting on the Crown.
The only guidance provided by the Court as to the meaning of the phrase was: A reasonable doubt is a doubt which the particular jury entertain in the circumstances. Jurymen themselves set the standard of what is reasonable in the circumstances ...”
Hmmmn.Posted by Geraldine Allan on 29/03/18 at 12:57 PM
As I am posting this at 6:10 pm Adelaide time I note that my two lengthy posts from midday (6 hours ago!! my reply to Invicta) aren’t yet uploaded and yet I see that two of Geraldine’s post have beaten my two posts! Is this a computer glitch that prefers Tasmanian contributors?? The numbering system goes out of kilter from time to time.
Anyway, I went through a much more complete analysis of the Vass issue than is indicated on my above post (which you will see soon I hope). I analysed the location of where the DNA was found. I analysed the publicly posted excerpts (on TT and on Barbara Etter’s website) about the Victoria Police Forensic Science Department report. I also analysed various people’s opinions on Vass DNA, etc. I also analysed the possible time frames that Vass (with any companions) could have had to go onto Four Winds, given that that I had previously concluded that Neill-Fraser was on Four Winds from about 2 pm to about 8 pm.
On the basis of my overall analysis I concluded that it was not a reasonable possibility that Vass was on Four Winds that night.Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 29/03/18 at 05:40 PM
A boat tethered on the starboard side of the Four Winds yacht on the morning of 27th Jan
On the basis of my analysis, I concluded that Vass DNA was most probably as a result of secondary transfer that occurred on the morning of 27th Jan when several police officers and possibly at least one civilian boarded the yacht via the starboard entrance gate (the DNA was found in the walkway right next to the starboard gate) from the boat that was tethered to the starboard side of the yacht
For further info see
#450 - #452Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 30/03/18 at 06:25 AM
Relevant extract from the website of The Judicial Commission of NSW
Here is the key sentence:
“Where the Crown case rests substantially on circumstantial evidence a jury cannot return a guilty verdict unless the Crown has excluded all reasonable hypotheses consistent with innocence:
Based on the above, I would say that in the context of the Neill-Fraser case as it relates to Vass DNA, the jury cannot return a guilty verdict if it is a reasonable hypothesis that Vass was on-board Four Winds on the night Bob Chappell disappeared.
So, those who are of the opinion that there is a reasonable possibility that Vass was onboard on the evening of Bob Chappell’s disappearance and that this wasn’t adequately addressed by the Crown will be of the opinion that Neill-Fraser’s case is a case of MOJ.
It is my opinion that Invicta has provided a somewhat loose and thus an incorrect interpretation of the law as it applies to circumstantial cases because the law is that the Crown has to exclude all reasonable hypotheses that are consistent with innocence.
It is also my opinion that Burt wasn’t quite correct in his interpretation of the law as it applies to circumstantial cases because it isn’t sufficient to prove beyond reasonable doubt “only those pieces of evidence which the jury considered essential to proof of the guilt of the accused”.
I wonder how will the two legal minds (Invicta and Burt) respond to my opinion (opinion of a non-legal mind). Looks like I am inviting to be lectured on by legally educated people! Ouch, what am I getting into after I promised myself not to get involved in discussing legal technicalities.Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 30/03/18 at 09:04 PM
No witnesses + no body should equal no provable crime and no conviction.Posted by Russell on 01/04/18 at 07:48 AM
Cyber Bullying in Tasmania is a crime. And there has been plenty concerning MV on TasTimes for too long. These have been noted and documented.Posted by Mark Hawkes on 01/04/18 at 10:58 AM
From the Office of eSafety Commissioner ...
Cyberbullying is the use of technology to bully a person or group with the intent to hurt them socially, psychologically or even physically: https://www.esafety.gov.au/esafety-information/esafety-issues/cyberbullyingPosted by Geraldine Allan on 01/04/18 at 12:15 PM
Thank you for providing us with the definition of Cyberbulling.
Just how much do you know about what went on Facebook (particularly on Ch 7 Sunday Night facebook) in July last year (and on some other Facebook pages since July 2017) after the airing of last year’s Ch 7 Sunday Night program on the Neill-Fraser case?
Just what effect to you think the followng statement (by a psychologist who appears to be obsessed by her belief that Meaghan was on Four Winds) had on people’s perception of Meaghan?
“The girl on the boat holds the key to this.”
Read Facebook Mrs Allan to find out something about very nasty comments about Meaghan since July last year.
What effect do you think the 2014 60 Mins program (where Dr Bob Moles incorrectly stated that the VPFSD report said that Meaghan was “definitely” on the yacht) had on the public, particularly the Tasmanian public and their perception of Meaghan. Just read what the mother of your former premier posted on Barbara Etter’s website shortly after the airing of that program.
In my opinion, a number of people ought to apologise to Meaghan.
How that young woman keeps her sanity whilst trying to survive in that nasty social environment in Hobart is beyond me.Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 01/04/18 at 04:26 PM
#34 ... Thanks for the link.
Cyber Bullying: ‘Nasty online gossip and chat’
Not very nice is it? Who wants to be repeatedly, for years, accused of murder or knowledge of one? The police have cleared her. They know much more than the SNF supporters.Posted by Mark Hawkes on 01/04/18 at 04:48 PM
The Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) is a national policing initiative of the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments.
Examples of cyber-bullying include:
- posting hurtful messages, images or videos online
- repeatedly sending unwanted messages online
- sending abusive texts and emails
- excluding or intimidating others online
- creating fake social networking profiles or websites that are hurtfulnasty
- online gossip and chat,
- and any other form of digital communication which is discriminatory, intimidating, intended to cause hurt or make someone fear for their safety.
The last listed category above is very relevant to the context discussed here.Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 01/04/18 at 05:00 PM
On misrepresentation of the Trial evidence by a retired journalist
Is there any wonder why there is so much misconception and ignorance about the Crown’s case against Neill-Fraser? Licensed solicitors can loose their licenses for misrepresentation of evidence.Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 01/04/18 at 09:05 PM
#32 ... Dr Lozo, the evidentiary requirements in circumstantial cases are constantly evolving, which is why I referred you to something more detailed than the statement offered by the NSW Judicial Commission. I suggest you read Mr Barker’s article carefully, as a starting point, if you wish to comment with any authority on the Neill-Fraser case. Unfortunately, a solid understanding of evidentiary standards involves acceptance of the role of ‘legal technicalities’ in any potential decision.
You say, ‘It is my opinion that Invicta has provided a somewhat loose and thus an incorrect interpretation of the law as it applies to circumstantial cases because the law is that the Crown has to exclude all reasonable hypotheses that are consistent with innocence’. That may be your opinion, Dr Lozo, but it is, by your own admission, a lay person’s opinion.
It was open to the Crown to definitively exclude Ms Vass’ involvement in this matter by establishing her whereabouts elsewhere at the relevant time. If the DNA evidence was, in fact, deposited via secondary transfer, investigators could have established this by checking those who boarded the yacht, immediately after Mr Chappell’s disappearance was discovered, for evidence of Ms Vass’ DNA.
Since neither of these elements were established by the Crown, it remained open to a properly directed jury to consider Ms Vass’ involvement in the crime as a reasonable possibility, alternative to the guilt of Ms Neill-Fraser. This is not a ‘loose and incorrect interpretation’ of the law regarding circumstantial evidence, as it currently stands, according to the relevant extant authorities.Posted by Invicta on 02/04/18 at 12:25 PM
Are you ignoring the eyewitness evidence that a middle aged person was spotted on a motorised light coloured dinghy in the vicinity of Four Winds at around 7:45 pm - 8:30 pm on the Australia Day 2009. That person has not yet come forward to identify himself/herself. The description of that person did not at all fit Meaghan!!
See Barbara Etter’s blog from 2014 on the “Weatherbeaten Man”:
Find the “Weatherbeaten Man” and you will find Bob’s killer!
The “Weatherbeaten Man” has not yet come forward ever since that person was sighted on a dinghy in the vicinity of Four Winds at around 7:45 pm - 8:30 pm on Australia Day 2009.
Why did not the “Weatherbeaten Man” contact the media and/or Neill-Fraser (or her family/friends) and/or the police and/or Neill-Fraser’s defence team?
Why didn’t Colin McLaren, Robert Richter and Eve Ash pursue the lead about the “Weatherbeaten Man”?
Why does the public not know about the “Weatherbeaten Man”?
What information is available about the “Weatherbeaten Man”?
Who is the “Weatherbeaten Man” most likely to be?
It was a very choppy Australia Day afternoon on the Derwent River in 2009. There were hardly any dinghies buzzing around on what was described by one eyewitness to be 3 foot waves. There were only three reported sightings of a travelling dinghy between midday and midnight of the day on which Bob Chappell was last seen. Each time, there was only one person on the dinghy and the dinghy was motorised (note that the sightings at 3:55 pm and 5 pm were of a ‘grey’ dinghy tethered to the portside of Four Winds but not a single person was spotted on the dinghy or the Four Winds yacht).
The sighting at around 2 pm was of Sue motoring towards Four Winds.
The sighting at around 7:45 pm - 8:30 pm was of one person in a light coloured dinghy (very similar to the Four Winds dinghy) motoring away from the location of Four Winds in the general direction of the sailing club (where Sue, according to her statement, left her dinghy after returning from the yacht sometime that afternoon). Given the media frenzy immediately after it was discovered that Bob was missing and that the yacht was sabotaged, one would have normally expected (I certainly would have) for the person on that dinghy to have contacted the police even if the person did not see anything unusual about the yacht (for it would have greatly assisted the police in establishing the timeline of events if nothing else). The fact that the person has not yet come forward is very odd given the extensive media coverage of the case ever since that day and up to the present time.
The third sighting was between 11:30 pm and midnight of one person on a motorised inflatable dinghy travelling past the Sandy Bay Rowing Shed in the general direction of where Four Winds for moored (the defence witness during the current appeal had had a wooden dinghy and did not have a motor on it).
Sue has not yet provided an explanation of her whereabouts for a 5 hour time block (4 pm - 9 pm). She tried by stating that she spent the whole afternoon and early evening in Bunnings and returned home about the time it was starting to get dark (between 8:30 pm and 9pm). But her alibi fell apart when the police discovered that on that day Bunnings had closed at 6pm and that she did not appear on any security videos for that day!!
Where was Sue between 4pm and 9pm?
Was Sue actually on Four Winds from about 2 pm to about 8 pm but did not want the police to know that she spent 6 hours or so on the yacht that afternoon.
Sue also gave varying accounts of her whereabouts for the rest of that evening, i e. after her last phone conversation (there are 4 different versions).
Why are Neill-Fraser supporters (and her legal team) picking on an innocent person (Meaghan) who did not fit the description of the sighted person and in my opinion was never on-board Four Winds because someone else who fits the description of the sighted person was on Four Winds.
Chase the “Weaterbeaten Man” Invicta!Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 02/04/18 at 01:23 PM
You say “If the DNA evidence was, in fact, deposited via secondary transfer, investigators could have established this by checking those who boarded the yacht, immediately after Mr Chappell’s was discovered, for evidence of Ms Vass’ DNA.”
Is that so? Vass was not in the database until a year later!!!!
Just how little do you know about the details of this case?Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 02/04/18 at 01:38 PM
I depended on a summary by lawyers who gave a very simple one sentence statement that I understood.
Mr Barker QC wrote that paper in 2011. Here is another lawyer’s short blog on “Circumstantial Evidence in the Courtroom” from 2015 (which I read over a year ago and which I found easy to understand):
In circumstantial cases, if there is evidence of a “reasonable hypothesis consistent with innocence” then the defendant must be found “not guilty”. However, if there is no such reasonable explanation, the jury can infer guilt and find the defendant guilty.
My conclusion is that you are of the opinion that there is evidence of a “reasonable hypothesis consistent with innocence”. I am of the opinion (which is based on my rather extensive analysis of the information that is available online about this case) is that there is NO evidence of a “reasonable hypothesis consistent with innocence”. Had there not been a sighting of a middle aged person on a motorised light coloured dinghy in the vicinity of Four Winds at around 7:45 pm - 8:30 pm or had anyone seen Sue on land between 4 pm and 9 pm then I would definitely think that there is evidence of a “reasonable hypothesis consistent with innocence”.Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 02/04/18 at 02:31 PM
#41, #42, #43 - Dr Lozo -
First, if the ‘weatherbeaten man’ was somehow involved in Bob Chappell’s disappearance why would he come forward, now that Ms Neill-Fraser is convicted and safely locked up in prison, quite possibly for the rest of her life.
Second, the Vass DNA sample was a ‘significant’ one. DNA is quite remarkable in its persistence. If it was a significant sample on the yacht, it must have been an equally significant sample on the shoe that supposedly walked it onto the deck. Why not at least check the shoes and other items on persons who attended the scene after Mr Chappell’s disappearance was discovered?
Third, you seem obsessed with the minutiae of this case, and clearly believe the details support Ms Neill-Fraser’s guilt. The judicial system, however, is primarily concerned with rules of evidence, precedent, and what you refer to as ‘legal technicalities’. Regardless of your extensive knowledge of the complex and disparate jumble of ‘facts’ in this case, and the opinion you have formed, it remains that the Vass DNA raises a reasonable alternative explanation for the disappearance of Mr Chappell. And the jury was not so directed.
In this regard I refer you to the final paragraph of Mr Barker’s paper where he notes -
‘I am afraid that judges are becoming increasingly reluctant to direct juries to treat significant circumstantial facts as requiring proof beyond reasonable doubt before taking them into account, in support of a Crown case. But as with other aspects of the administration of justice the tide continues to run against the person on trial’.
Further, you say Ms Vass is ‘innocent’. Whilst her guilt or innocence is entirely irrelevant, since she was not charged with any offence in conjunction with Mr Chappell’s disappearance, the question remains - why has she not provided solid evidence of her whereabouts at the relevant time? Why did the police and the trial judge simply accept her statement that she had never been on the yacht and decline to investigate or question her further?Posted by Invicta on 03/04/18 at 12:10 AM
“why has she not provided solid evidence of her whereabouts at the relevant time?
Why should she. She was 1st interviewed about a year after Bob disappeared. She could not remember where she was. She stated that she was never on Four Winds. She did not have to prove anything!
What if the jury was more concerned with:
‘why did the last known person to have been on Four Winds with Bob alive lie about her whereabouts from 4 pm to 9 pm and then again from 11 pm to 3 am. Why did she have an unexplained injury on her hand that occurred on the day Bob disappeared. Why did she lie about being separated from Bob? Why did she leave Bob without the dinghy? Is it really true that she walked for over an hour very late at night rather than drive and if she really did leave her mobile phone with Bob why didn’t she just call him after Mr King called, etc, etc.
Perhaps, after hearing all the evidence, the jury did not think it a reasonable possibility of Vass having anything to do with Four Winds or Bob.Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 03/04/18 at 06:52 AM
Vass DNA was matched about a year after Bob disappeared.
You seem to be of the opinion that it was necessary to prove BRD that Vass was not onboard Four Winds in order for the Crown to prove BRD that Neill-Fraser was guilty. If you can find in Mr Barker’s paper anything that agrees with this opinion then please point it out to us.Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 03/04/18 at 07:25 AM
Regarding the “Weatherbeaten Man”
All the evidence points to Neill-Fraser being the mysterious “Weatherbeaten Man”!
Had not the evidence pointed to Neill-Fraser as being the mysterious “Weatherbeaten Man” then you can bet your boots that Tasmanian’s would have been made aware of this mysterious person. You can bet your boots that Neill-Fraser’s supporters would have been vocal about it. You can bet your boots that Eve Ash would have directed Colin McLaren to investigate this lead. And there is no doubt that it would have been used by Neil-Fraser’s defence attorney at her trial in order to raise doubt. The Crown had provided Mr Gunson (Neill-Fraser’s defence attorney at trial) the statement of the eyewitness who saw a middle aged person on a motorised light coloured dinghy in the vicinity of Four Winds at around 7:45 pm - 8:30 pm on the Australia Day 2009.
I refer the readers to Barbara Etter’s blog about the “Weatherbeaten Man”:
It is evident that the police believed that the description matched Neill-Fraser.
(i) Neill-Fraser lied about her whereabouts for the time period during which the “Weatherbeaten Man” was spotted
(ii) that the description of the description of both the person and the dinghy matched Neill-Fraser and her dinghy
(iii) absence of any alibi from Sue about her whereabouts from 4 pm to 9 pm
Is there a reasonable doubt that Sue was not the “Weatherbeaten Man”?
Is there a reasonable doubt that Sue was not on Four Winds from about 2 pm to about 8 pm?Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 03/04/18 at 08:30 AM
#47 ... Dr Peter Lozo, you appear to be writing further speculative commentary re the SNF case on nominally separate different articles that centre on this mysterious case. I believe only you can understand your methodology in your so doing.
Given the volume of the variant conjectures you have submitted to some of the articles, I am still unable to ascertain whether or not your obsession may be a means to profit (secondarily) from the proceeds of crime, albeit not necessarily monetary but of some concocted academic elevation, perhaps into some government journal, while these are being published on a public forum gifted as a facility to serve the citizens of Tasmania thereby expressing your personal opinion on any number of public news articles.
Perhaps a letter to the Law Reform Commission in this State, or even by your scrolling through the numerous articles in the link hereunder, can provide you some consensus about the legally acceptable literary freedom to speculate.
Do please spare me your proffered links to a variety of comments on similar articles.Posted by William Boeder on 03/04/18 at 05:54 PM
Here is another post for William’s education:
The post is titled
Reasoning about the critical aspects of the Australian criminal law concerning this (circumstantial) case
Part I of two
#574Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 03/04/18 at 07:30 PM
Reasoning about Neill-Fraser’s late night trip to the riverbank
“I too find it quite remarkable that Sue avoided for over 2 months to tell the police she went back to the river later that night.”..........”
#573, #577 & #578Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 03/04/18 at 08:19 PM
Dr Lozo, a number of highly regarded legal professionals have expressed an opinion that the decision in the Neill-Fraser case was a miscarriage of justice comparable to the Chamberlain case.
There is good reason for this. The majority of criminal cases tried in our courts have the benefit of direct evidence supporting the guilt of the accused. The Neill-Fraser case is one of the more unusual, and problematic, cases based entirely on circumstantial evidence.
The onus of proof is on the Crown to demonstrate the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt. In circumstantial cases the authorities generally require the Crown to persuade the jury there is no reasonable alternative hypothesis of the crime other than the guilt of the accused.
We rely on the courts to adhere to this common law principle. When a person is charged with murder in the absence of a body, or a murder weapon, and with no credible motive or direct incriminatory evidence, the need to eliminate reasonable alternative hypotheses is especially critical.
The Vass DNA – a significant sample found at the crime scene – was sufficient to raise a reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the accused. It was entirely reasonable to infer from the DNA that Ms Vass was present on the yacht at some time, regardless of what she says.
While your detailed analysis of the case is somewhat interesting, it only has relevance insofar as it informs your personal opinion. Juries, however, are specifically NOT required to express an opinion. They must consider whether the Crown has satisfied its evidentiary onus, with appropriate assistance and direction from the trial judge.
In the Neill-Fraser case, many believe the Crown failed to meet its obligation and the jury was not properly directed.
You can pore through every scrap of material related to this case but the bottom line is this – regardless of whether Ms Neill-Fraser was involved in the disappearance of Mr Chappell, certain legal principles and evidentiary imperatives should have prevailed at her trial. There is a credible body of opinion that this was not the case.Posted by Invicta on 03/04/18 at 11:24 PM
I won’t add to the verbosity and repetition on this thread, but as summary #26 I offer ‘YES” the crown does need to prove BRD as well explained in #25.
The major flaw in the original trial of SNF is that the crown case was based on speculation rather than actually proven via direct evidence (whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?). The onus was wrongly, I and many others believe, on the accused proving innocence.
I suggest, Dr Lozo, if your interest is mainly on science, that you get yourself up to date via the expert witness Dr Mark Reynolds’ testimony in the current leave to appeal application.Posted by rosemary on 04/04/18 at 09:12 AM
- Posted by spikey on 04/04/18 at 09:22 AM
May I recommend to Rosemary that she reads post #572?
The posts starts as follows:
“Is there anything fresh in the reports of Dr Reynolds?
“Dr Reynolds agreed there was nothing fresh in the reports and their details could have been used in the 2010 murder trial.
Dr Lozo is on top of what is going on, Rosemary! He follows Dr Moles’ posts on the Networked Knowledge website. He reads the news articles on the case. In fact, last night he read why the DPP lodged a complaint about Barbara Etter.
Dr Lozo also has a very good understanding of the new legislation concerning the ‘fresh and compelling’ evidence, given that he studied the Henry Keogh case well before the same legislation was introduced in Tasmania. So far, there is nothing compelling.
Ps: Now that we know what both sides said about the winching problem, I’d like to remind Rosemary of #14 and #19
Perhaps it was Rosemary who stated this to me:
“You too are very good at theory and experiments, but the missing link is lack of actual real world experience.
The winch speculation was not properly tested, eg, that very unscientific demo with the police reenactment.”Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 04/04/18 at 09:57 AM
DPP lodged a complaint against Neill-Fraser’s former pro-bono solicitor of 5 years
See the 4th paragraph here: https://www.cla.asn.au/News/a-law-unto-themselves-absent-model-principles/
“The first LPB complaint against Etter concerns her comments on the TV program 60 Minutes in 2014 about the evidence introduced at the Sue Neill-Fraser trial (SNF) by the Crown concerning the presence (or otherwise) of blood in the dinghy of the yacht from which SNF’s husband disappeared.”
I will soon write a post about an incorrect and a very misleading statement that Dr Bob Moles made on the same 60 Mins program for which he, in my opinion, needs to apologise to Meaghan Vass, as well as to the forensic scientist who authored the VPFSD report. Had Bob been a practicing lawyer there would probably have been complaints against him as well.Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 04/04/18 at 11:13 AM
Welcome to Networked Knowledge
Networked Knowledge What’s New: http://netk.net.au/whatsnew.aspPosted by Dr Peter Lozo on 04/04/18 at 11:59 AM
Dr Lozo #40, if you are finding the two statements hard to reconcile it is because they relate to different stages for the jury. The passage “Where the Crown case rests substantially on circumstantial evidence a jury cannot return a guilty verdict unless the Crown has excluded all reasonable hypotheses consistent with innocence” relates to the bringing of the verdict – it is a restatement in a different way of the requirement that they be satisfied of guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The passage you cite from my post concerning proving beyond reasonable doubt “only those pieces of evidence which the jury considered essential to proof of the guilt of the accused” relates to the time of deliberation, necessarily an earlier time than that of delivery of the verdict.
However my statement was inaccurate in that it was too broad. The requirement of proof of any piece of evidence (as opposed to the ultimate verdict) beyond reasonable doubt only arises as a direction for the trial Judge to give the jury when it the case is one of “links in a chain” rather than ” strands in a cable”, as appears to be conceded by Invicta at #25 (considerably more accurately than in his initial post).
This was not a “links in the chain” case. It was a “strands in a cable case”, as is clear when one reads the Judgement of the Court of Criminal Appeal,
(Invicta refers without naming them to the “relevant extant authorities “- the adjectives are superfluous- but not to this one. Why not?).At Paragraphs 154-167 you will find what I respectfully venture to say is a more comprehensive explanation of the authorities than Mr Barker’s QC’s paper . At para 164: “Proof of guilt depended entirely on circumstantial evidence, of which there was a great amount. It could not be said that Mr Triffett’s evidence or any other item of circumstantial evidence was an indispensable link in the chain of proof. The directions complied with the requirements of Shepherd v R.” (Underlining added.)
Ms. Vass’s DNA at one and only one place on the yacht was proven, but that was capable of supporting an inference she had been present and left it only if it was proven to have been primary transfer. Even if that were capable of proof (it is not) it would not have been capable of supporting any inference except that she was there at some prior to its detection which was many days and nights after Mr Chappell’s murder.
The hypothesis inconsistent with Neill – Fraser’s guilt is not that Ms Vass was merely present at some time prior to the finding of the sample but that it was she, not Neill-Fraser, who killed Mr Chappell. The jury by its verdict must have rejected that hypothesis as unreasonable. No evidence supported it, even as an inference.
Unlike the experts on this site and elsewhere the jury heard and saw the witnesses including Neil- Fraser, had the numerous photos, maps, and diagrams etc., saw all Neill –Fraser’s interviews as videotaped or otherwise recorded and were the ones charged with the responsibility of decision.
They had the benefit of their shared discussions and views. The arrogance of those who post here and elsewhere that, based on a heavily biased film or television show, or some transcript which at best is less than the jury saw and had, they would have had a doubt and so the jury must be wrong, is astonishing.
Invicta says #44, “the question remains - why has she (Ms. Vass) not provided solid evidence of her whereabouts at the relevant time?”
cont ...Posted by Burt on 04/04/18 at 03:25 PM
She was not asked to recall and account for her whereabouts on a night which had no significance for her until well after a year later. She was a homeless early teenager, of no fixed address. It is patently ridiculous to expect the “solid evidence” Invictus insists on. By contrast, the Neill –Fraser apologists contrive to dismiss as understandable Neill –Fraser’s failure to recount accurately and consistently her movements of that night when asked to do so the very next day and following.
In Velevski v R  HCA 4; (2002) 187 ALR 233 the High Court dealt with a case in which a husband had been convicted of killing his wife and daughters. He claimed it was a reasonable hypothesis not excluded that the wife had killed the daughters and then herself. Several matters were advanced to support the hypothesis. Of those, at 192 Gummow and Callinan JJ said “They were all points that were made to the jury. Some of them were little more than speculation. They were all however answerable by other evidence which was led here, and was well capable of demolishing any hypotheses of innocence to which, standing alone, they might have given rise. The most troubling of all of the matters is the absence of blood elsewhere in the house. To prove murder however, the prosecution was not obliged to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there were traces of blood in places other than the main bedroom. The case might have been more compelling if it had. But it would be a mistake to think that with respect to every crime there will be no loose ends as to detail at the end of the trial. Why there were no external traces of blood, whether, and how or if, they were removed, or whether by some means they were never deposited by the appellant beyond the room will probably never be known. Ignorance of these matters does not deprive the case of the requisite cogency on the ultimate issue, of guilt or otherwise.”
The exact time and manner of the deposit of DNA might be, and might remain, a “loose end” but not one from which it can be properly argued that the verdict was unreasonable. According to the relevant extant authorities.Posted by Burt on 04/04/18 at 03:26 PM
#57 and #58 Burt ... Thank you for the clarification. I will think about this some more.Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 04/04/18 at 05:07 PM
#51 Invicta ... “a number of highly regarded legal professionals have expressed an opinion that the decision in the Neill-Fraser case was a miscarriage of justice comparable to the Chamberlain case.”
Have you looked at how they reached that decision? One thing that my science background has taught me is that it all depends on what information people use and how people interpret that information that needs to be looked at before one can make a sound decision on whether to accept their opinion.
I know what Porter, Richter and Moles expressed. I am not a lawyer but a scientist. I wanted to know on what basis did the above 3 listed individuals express their very first public opinion on this case. In other words I wanted to know whether any of them had actually read the Trial Transcript before offering their very first public opinion on this case, or was their very first public opinion made on the basis of watching Eve Ash’s documentary Shadow of Doubt.
I learned over two years ago that each of the above listed individuals made their very first public opinion on the basis of the latter. If that is the basis on which some “highly regarded legal professionals” expressed an opinion on a criminal case then I am very skeptical about their professional legal opinion on this case.
Here is a link to what Mr Porter said in 2013:
Let me just refer to one of a number of things he talked about. He said .. “There now appears to be evidence, even more than you’ll see on the film, that the dinghy near the yacht was not the dinghy of the yacht, and was not the dinghy associated with the accused. There is after all a considerable difference between a grey dinghy and a white dinghy. And there’s a lot of evidence about a grey dinghy. More than in this film.
The fact is that there is NO evidence that the dinghy near the yacht was not the dinghy of the yacht, and was not the dinghy associated with the accused! There is evidence that people perceived a grey dinghy next to the yacht. One then needs to consider the science of visual perception and the geometry related to the visual scene in order to decide whether the dinghy of the yacht could have been perceived to be grey under those conditions. You read my opinion on this elsewhere.
Let us just consider the unprofessional approach of one of the above listed legal experts. On the basis of his own incorrect interpretation of a forensic science report, a certain former legal academic stated some absolute nonsense on a national current affairs program .. about which I will write a post. His statement would have led to incorrect public perception of the forensic evidence related to Vass DNA.
It is not a fact that having her DNA in a certain location on Four Winds is a proof that she was ever there. The fact is that science cannot tell you on the basis of the volume of that DNA, nor on its location on the yacht how that DNA got there, ie primary or secondary nor exactly when it got there. Scientifically naive people have a misconception about forensic science related to DNA.Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 04/04/18 at 05:17 PM
Thanks to Burt and Dr Lozo for explaining their clear points. It appears the SNF supporters have already caused trouble with perverting justice.
I read the transcript and I can easily see why the jury found Sue guilty of murdering her husband. Not one of these responses by Invicta and others can justify the missing time from afternoon through evening for Sue Neill Fraser.
I respect the supporters who have some law qualified supporters. I ask any of them to swing me to the supporter side if somebody could tell me where Sue Neill Fraser was on the night Bob Chapell went missing? Please don’t cyber bully me, just answer my question ... ” where was Sue? ”Posted by Fred Night on 04/04/18 at 08:34 PM
#61 ... Okay Fred Night, I will answer your question although I feel there has been enough argy-bargy on these TT threads.
DPP Ellis said in the trial that witnesses can be confused, but never is the same proviso granted to Sue. No allowance is made that she had lost her partner, that she was bewildered and traumatised. She told me that, when she boarded the yacht in the afternoon of 27th January and saw Bob’s pipe and cigarette lighter, she knew he had not gone anywhere willingly and feared foul play.
Mrs Zochling was confused: she had the wrong lady arguing with Bob on the beach on the wrong day (it was Bob’s sister on 25th). She clearly said words to the effect that “the lady in the box is not the lady I saw” having wrongly assumed the lady with him was his wife. This should have called for the Pause Button to be pressed and the ID sorted out, but it went through to the keeper and was used as evidence against Sue in the prosecutor’s closing remarks.
When Sue told the police she had gone to Bunnings, she knew the store had security cameras and she said to the police “You will see me on the footage”. Why would she deliberately lie when she knew she would be caught out?
She had left the boat during the afternoon of Australia Day and likely went home, but that is speculation. She could just as easily have gone to Mitre 10. What we do know is that she was home early evening to take 2 phone calls from family, then at 10.00 pm she took a phone call from Richard King that lasted almost half an hour. She was troubled by the phone call that was connected with Bob’s younger daughter who had a mental health problem. Sue went to bed but kept thinking about the weird conversation that had Bob’s daughter bizarrely predicting that harm would come to her father on the yacht. (No one has successfully explained that). At some stage in the early hours of the morning, Sue decided to walk down to the Esplanade to bring the car home in case there was an emergency with Bob’s daughter. When she was down at the foreshore, homeless people were standing around a fire; they were not there when Mr Hughes was there between 11.30 and midnight. It suggests to me, the early hours of the morning became chilly. She drove home and most likely arrived around 3.00 am when she dialled *10# to see if Bob had called while she was out. She had left her mobile phone with him.
When the police asked her the next day, where had she been the previous night, she said “home”. One could be pedantic and say well it wasn’t the previous night, it was the early hours of the next day, so it wasn’t a lie at all. But I won’t pursue that. She knew that the Chappell family were sensitive about the mental illness. She did not believe Bob’s daughter would have murdered her father so she didn’t want to mention her. Ironically, she said to me, “Bob would kill me if I was the cause of his daughter being on the front page of the ‘Mercury’.” I do not have a problem with that explanation, having had a mother with a mental illness.
During the trial, Bob’s son played down his sister’s illness, uncomfortable with terms such as “delusions”, preferring to call them “anxieties”. This was Sue’s one lie; hoping that morning that Bob would turn up soon. This was before she boarded the yacht in the afternoon and saw his pipe and cigarette lighter. The short answer, Fred Night, is she was mostly at home that night and, for a short space of time in the early hours of the morning, she was retrieving her car from Marieville Esplanade. You say you read the Transcript of the Trial so you will be able to check out Mrs.Z and Tim’s words and the Bunnings footage.Posted by Lynn Giddings on 04/04/18 at 10:26 PM
#57, #58 ... Burt, the distinction between ‘links in a chain’ and ‘strands in a cable’ circumstantial cases is tenuous as best. Neither has been definitively explained in the decided cases.
It is not unreasonable that the unexplained presence of Ms Vass’ DNA on the yacht could be considered a critical ‘link’ in the chain of reasoning towards a decision in the Neill-Fraser case.
And, while we’re respectfully disagreeing, I find Mr Barker’s analysis of circumstantial evidence more illuminating than that of Crawford, CJ. Perhaps you could explain your preference for the latter’s effort.
You say - ‘The hypothesis inconsistent with Neill – Fraser’s guilt is not that Ms Vass was merely present at some time prior to the finding of the sample but that it was she, not Neill-Fraser, who killed Mr Chappell’. I disagree. The law as it relates to circumstantial evidence is far more nuanced than that. For example, the presence of her DNA on the yacht could reasonably indicate Ms Vass may have witnessed the alleged crime.
Add to the DNA the fact that Ms Vass cannot account for her whereabouts on the night in question - even the most minimal of investigation and questioning turned up three different, uncorroborated possibilities - and a reasonable person could arguably consider the possibility of an alternative hypothesis of the crime other than the guilt of the accused.
#60 ... Dr Lozo, you say - ‘It is not a fact that having her DNA in a certain location on Four Winds is a proof that she was ever there. The fact is that science cannot tell you on the basis of the volume of that DNA, nor on its location on the yacht, how that DNA got there, ie primary or secondary, nor exactly when it got there. Scientifically naive people have a misconception about forensic science related to DNA’. Fair enough, Dr Lozo, but the Vass DNA got onto the yacht somehow - it didn’t just appear out of nowhere. And, unlike Burt, I consider it far more significant than merely a ‘loose end’ with no relevance not the ultimate decision.Posted by Invicta on 05/04/18 at 12:55 AM
#62, Lynn Giddinngs ... Thanks for your answer. I still see opportunity in time for mischief for Sue on the afternoon and night. I understand she was on the boat in the afternoon. From that admission we cannot pin Sue to any location until the first phone call of the two from family in the evening.The 10.00 O’clock phone call from Mr King lasted 30 minutes. The next time we get definite time at home is 3.00am for *10# call.
In between she has admitted returning to the water front.
Would you agree that my time summary is accurate?Posted by Fred Night on 05/04/18 at 06:29 AM
#63 Invicta ... I will focus on non-legal issues.
Neill-Fraser’s defence team could have asked the forensic scientist from VPFSD to do a series of experiments to see how much DNA could be transferred via a shoe. If the volume is significantly lower than the volume of the sampled Vass DNA then this would raise a serious doubt about the secondary transfer via a substance stuck to someone’s shoe. In fact, I suggested this to Barbara in mid 2015, but the opinion of the VPFSD forensic scientist at this current appeal was purely based on the analysis of the volume of Vass DNA and the digital profile of the DNA. I imagine that it would cost a substantial amount of money for a well controlled series of experiments. Note that I wrote a lot on the Vass DNA in two other lengthy posts, and have proposed a ‘Chewing Gum Hypothesis of Secondary Transfer of DNA’.
My numerous comments on Vass DNA can be found on these two TT links:
PS: Kathleen Zellner (Chicago based defence attorney who is representing Steven Avery) had organised all sorts of experiments in order to try to prove her theory that Mr Avery was framed. Some of those experiments (such as the hood latch tests) were designed to see how much DNA could be transferred.Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 05/04/18 at 10:25 AM
#64, Fred ... Lynn spins an interesting story but cannot analyse its implication so she leaves it up to the reader to find the absurdity of the whole story.
For example: Lynn says “At some stage in the early hours of the morning, Sue decided to walk down to the Esplanade to bring the car home in case there was an emergency with Bob’s daughter. When she was down at the foreshore, homeless people were standing around a fire; they were not there when Mr Hughes was there between 11.30 and midnight.”
A problem: If it is true that Sue walked sometime around midnight to pick up her car from waterfront then surely she would have known on 28th Jan, when she signed her Stat Dec, that she could not have gone to Bunnings after leaving the yacht and then returning home about the time it was starting to get dark!
Either the car was at the wavefront or it was at home, but not at both places when Mr King called her!
Conclusion: Either Sue lied about the Bunnings trip or she lied about walking a total distance of about 7 km very late at night (aren’t there any Taxis in Hobart, and was Sue not afraid to walk by herself at that time of the night?) or she lied about both. Take your pick. Who is trying to fool whom?
Now for a humorous post. This was posted on Ch 7 Sunday Night Facebook in July last year after Ch 7 aired its program on this case:
“Daughters claimed she had bulging discs in her back at the time, how in the hell do you with that, walk from hilly West Hobart to Sandy Bay, and why in the middle of the night, and also spend hours walking up and down the aisles of Bunnings, I want the meds she had, must turn you into Wonder Woman, her stories have more holes than a crumpet. I say stories because she changed it so many times. She done it.”Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 05/04/18 at 11:41 AM
Lynn Giddings, I just reread your #62 post. You agree between 11.30 and midnight Mr Hughes was at the waterfront and there were no homeless people around a fire. So Sue said she saw homeless people around a fire meaning she was there from anytime from midnight to 3.00 am when she dialled *10# .
You say when the police asked her whereabouts the previous night she said ‘at home’ but you then say “One could be pedantic and well it wasn’t the previous night, it was the early hours of the next day, so it wasn’t a lie at all”
Continuing with “I won’t pursue that”.
Lynn with respect that’s the reason why we are opposite in opinion of guilt. If there’s opportunity to spend hours before the phone calls from the afternoon and there’s opportunity from midnight to 3.00am for Sue to murder her husband I, like the police, get suspicious.
My next question to you, or other supporters of Sue, is why did Barbara Etter leave, what appeared back then, a confident work group building an appeal?Posted by Fred Night on 05/04/18 at 01:05 PM
#67 ... Fred this is my last word as I see no point in continuing a conversation with people who are unable to concede some difficulties with the verdict. You don’t make comment about Mrs Z’s evidence; you try to make something of my tongue-in-cheek comment that I did not pursue because that would be pedantic. In DPP Ellis’ lingo, “it was a throw away line”.
In my opinion the only evidence that was proven was Sue’s own admission that she had lied to the police about being at home that night. I accept her explanation as feasible in that she did not want to drag Bob’s daughter into the police investigation of a missing person.
In trying to answer your question I was trying to give a possible explanation. The whole trial was speculative. My explanation has as much credibility as the Crown’s. The Crown has Sue going out in a dinghy between 11.30 pm and midnight, murdering Bob with a wrench or screwdriver or ‘something’. How accurate is that? Then they refer to footage from a CCTV camera at the Commonwealth Bank in Sandy Bay supposedly showing Sue driving home at 12.21 am. The footage was not shown to the court because it was of useless quality; you couldn’t see the driver or the number plate.
In less than an hour it is proposed that Sue goes out, murders Bob, winches his body up to the deck, gets it into a dinghy which has no evidence of blood in it, and takes it out to a deep channel of the river, flips it overboard, then returns and puts on a latex glove to clean up the mess as best she could (inconveniently, it is Bob’s son’s DNA in the glove, not Sue’s), then motors back to the shore and is seen driving past the bank all in less than an hour.
Now you could make all sorts of arguments that she might have murdered Bob earlier and that she went back at night to dispose of the body. But even if you peeled it back to the barest scenario, how could she dispose of a body and clean up the mess in such a short time? As one supporter commented “They must think Sue is Superwoman”.
You and I are of opposite opinions because you want Sue to be guilty but I see enough holes in the trial to want the case looked at again. I do not want to comment more until after Sue’s application is dealt with in June.Posted by Lynn Giddings on 05/04/18 at 03:48 PM
Lynn says “in less than an hour it is proposed that Sue goes out, murders Bob, winches his body up to the deck, gets it into a dinghy which has no evidence of blood in it, and takes it out to a deep channel of the river, flips it overboard, then returns and puts on a latex glove to clean up the mess as best she could (inconveniently, it is Bob’s son’s DNA in the glove, not Sue’s), then motors back to the shore and is seen driving past the bank all in less than an hour.”
Who proposed that it was done in less than an hour? Is Lynn Giddings inventing another story? Just how did Lynn arrive at such strange interpretation of the Crown case?
For starters, the last known person who was with Bob on the yacht hasn’t yet explained the absence of 5 hours in her timeline from 4 pm to 9 pm.Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 05/04/18 at 05:14 PM
Neill-Fraser’s defence team has had several years to get its act together and organise a few private forensic scientists to conduct some relevant experiments to try to disprove the Crown case.
For example, one forensic scientist could have been tasked with carrying out experiments on Four Winds with the relevant winch to test how much time it would take, and how difficult it would be to rig up the ropes, and then winch a 65 kg body from below the deck, across the deck and then onto the dinghy.
Another forensic scientist could have been tasked with doing experiments to test out the physical plausibility of secondary transfer of DNA via a substance stuck to a shoe.
When I compare this case with the cases of Gordon Wood, Henry Keogh and Steven Avery, I note that unlike in the other 3 cases not a single experiment was done in this case on behalf of the appellant. What is going on here given that Neill-Fraser’s former pro-bono solicitor of 5 years is a self-professed “forensic science addict”? All Neil-Fraser got from forensic scientists are opinions that were based on non-experimental work! Surely Neill-Fraser’s vocal supporters could have raised the necessary funds.Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 05/04/18 at 06:23 PM
#67 ... Your question “My next question to you, or other supporters of Sue, is why did Barbara Etter leave, what appeared back then, a confident work group building an appeal? ”
No supporter of the convicted murderer has answered your question, so this makes you wonder.Posted by John Wiseman on 08/04/18 at 07:43 AM
PARAMOUNT DUTY TO THE COURT AND THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
Having no intention of giving bonus oxygen to the at times long-winded, self-promoting balderdash that dominates this subject discussion, on a more relevant note to ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’ I advise that there exists a “solicitor’s duty to the court and the administration of justice” which “is paramount and prevails to the extent of inconsistency with any other duty.”
That duty applies to all licensed practitioners including prosecutors and barristers.
Furthermore, what I know is that malicious prosecutions do happen, but how many here in Tasmania is unknown. Personally, I have witnessed one such shoddy, awful prosecution and I have direct supporting evidence to that statement of fact. Several aspects of that extraordinarily alarming evidence have not been publicly disclosed .. yet. The numerous similarities to the modus-operandi of gaining a successful conviction are scary, and worse still, unethical at best. The ‘end-justifies-the-means’ mentality is alive and kicking.
Over the years there are recorded instances of malicious prosecutions, and alarmingly, the said offenders seem to escape prosecution/punishment. One such example: https://blogs.unimelb.edu.au/opinionsonhigh/2013/07/03/barnett-beckett/Posted by Geraldine Allan on 09/04/18 at 04:08 PM
#72 says: “Personally, I have witnessed one such shoddy, awful prosecution and I have direct supporting evidence to that statement of fact .. “
Are these the facts-of-legal-matters referred to?Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 09/04/18 at 04:25 PM
For the sake of completeness, and further to #72, (a 2013 link) Roseanne Becket, was awarded damages after far too many years.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-10/nsw-government-ordered-to-pay-$4m-over-beckett/6926520Posted by Geraldine Allan on 09/04/18 at 04:42 PM
R. Beckett case ... “In August 2005, the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal said she could be re-tried on a number of counts, but the DPP later decided not to go ahead.”
I wouldn’t jump to a conclusion on the above case without first reading the Trial Transcript and the Court of Criminal Appeal.
Based on my quick reading recently, I formed a view that the DPP had strong reasons to pursue a retrial. It isn’t clear to me why the retrial wasn’t pursued. My educated guess is that the actions of a certain detective have tainted the prospect of a conviction. The defence would have had a strong ground to raise reasonable doubt.Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 09/04/18 at 07:28 PM
Interesting how all these threads end up following a similar path.
Surely, the demonstrable fact is that any discussion on Sue Neil Fraser ends up as debate as to her guilt, thus proving that there is reasonable doubt. Following from that, the basic philosophy of our justice system is presumption of innocence.
It is not for the suspect to prove how, where, or with whom, they spent their evening. The obligation is on the prosecution to prove they spent it committing the crime they are charged with.
There seems to be a remarkable absence of information proving that SNF murdered her husband. Plenty of speculation, yes. Plenty of proof, no.Posted by Steve on 09/04/18 at 08:22 PM
Steve has succeeded in raising reasonable doubt in less than 20 words, but an experienced defence attorney wasn’t able to do it with several thousand words!Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 09/04/18 at 09:39 PM
#76 ... Steve,.in your words “It’s not for the suspect to prove, how, where, and with whom, they spent their evening.”
Well, If you cannot see how lying about your alibi, failing to prove where you were for 5 hours when your partner goes missing on a boat that’s deliberately sunk, then I hope you’re not a policeman. Surely suspicion develops when someone continually slips up with lies and red herring stories.
Oh, maybe you can tell me why Barbara left the SNF cause?
No, you probably won’t!Posted by Fred Night on 10/04/18 at 10:52 AM
Misconceptions and Misrepresentations in the Neill-Fraser case
Based on my own research and understanding I concluded that there is a lot of misconception in the SNF camp about a lot of things [the limitation of forensic science regarding DNA - primary or secondary transfer; the observation of the nature of luminol reaction by a naked eye; whether a white dinghy can be perceived to be grey under the relevant viewing conditions; about memory and confabulation; about the mechanics of yacht winches and the significant mechanical advantage provided by a winch; whether or not Sue would have benefited substantially from Bob’s will (by my calculation she would have been better off by at least $500,000 by having Bob dead than simply leaving him); what the Crown case was regarding how long it would have taken for Sue to kill Bob and then dispose of the body via the dinghy into the river; whether a person can tip a body off the dinghy without losing balance; etc].
This was Steve’s comment #56 at http://www.oldtt.pixelkey.biz.au/index.php/article/sue-neill-fraser-the-sentencing-blow-by-blow
“Actually, tipping a body over the stern is fraught with hazards, assuming there’s no third person in the bow to provide a counterweight!
But then a clever person at #58 responded to Steve the former professional fisherman as follows:
“Try lying in the bottom of the dingy and pushing with your feet. Stability and reach plus strength. Don’t forget SNF was an experienced sailor and had spent a lifetime working with horses. Don’t mess with horsey women!”
If Steve couldn’t work out how a person can tip a body over the stern (or over the bow or over the side) of a 3.6 metre long inflatable dinghy (which is very stable and can take 6 adults) without requiring a third person for counterweight, or without having to stand up and risk falling into water, then he just ain’t reasoning and problem solving well enough about this case, so how can he then decide whether on or not there is a “remarkable absence of information proving that SNF murdered her husband” ?He is speculating but isn’t reasoning.
How about this silly comment from someone else (Poppy Lopatniuk , comment #14)?
“Years ago when I was young and strong I used to muck about a lot in dinghies in our inland rivers.Had I ever tried to get an inert heavy body over the side, I could not have managed it without the dinghy capsizing. Currents and movement of waters in the bay would make capsizing even more hazardous.”
Now, just what kind of a dinghy was Poppy mucking around in?
I would say that the Shadow of Doubt documentary and the 60 Minutes program on this case has contributed to a lot of misconception about the case. I think that the statements by Etter and Moles on 60 Minutes in 2014, and by Ash on last year’s Ch 7 Sunday Night program, would have had a significant influence on people’s perception of this case and on their perception of the justice in Tasmania.
If one reads various TT comments (and TT articles) by Lynn Giddings one can see a large number of misconceptions about virtually every important aspect of the case. Is this because of her predisposed and obvious bias against the homeless lady? Just have a look at the two online comments that Lynn posted on Barbara Etter’s website within 24 hours of the 60 Minutes ‘Justice Overboard’ program in August 2014. I included her comments in my post #593 at http://www.oldtt.pixelkey.biz.au/index.php/article/sue-neill-fraser-two-views-of-her-guilt
I would have thought that the aim would have been to first (correctly) understand the technicalities of the Crown case, and then decide whether the evidence proves or doesn’t prove BRD whether SNF killed Bob and winched his body from below the deck, across the deck and then onto the dinghy to then dispose the body somewhere in the river.Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 10/04/18 at 06:54 PM
Why waste so much energy on this. You are trying to convince the inconvincible. You are dealing with a group of upper middle class friends that don’t wish to believe that they are associated with a murderess. Of course she did the crime, in my view.
I initially wondered about her guilt until I read the trial transcript. Had I been on the jury I would have come to the correct decision also.Posted by Richard Kopf on 23/04/18 at 04:32 PM
#80, Richard ... I am not trying to convince Neill-Fraser’s supporters that she is guilty.
I am not really concerned about who is guilty, but I am concerned about how the circumstantial evidence is interpreted. I am particularly interested in people’s reasoning processes, and their interpretation of the evidence.Posted by Dr Peter Lozo on 01/06/18 at 06:46 PM