Sue Neill-Fraser's conviction is WRONG!There needs to be a Royal Commission.
Bob Chappell was last seen on Australia Day 2009, on board the Four Winds yacht, recently bought by Bob and his partner Sue Neill-Fraser. Sue had taken the couple’s dinghy back to shore and left Bob doing maintenance work. It was his first night alone on the yacht. The next morning it was found sinking on its mooring on the Derwent River, a few hundred metres off Sandy Bay, a suburb of Hobart. The boat was saved but the crime scene was contaminated. At least twenty-one police and salvage workers trampled over it for hours.
Within days Sue became the only suspect and on 20 August 2009 she was arrested and charged with murdering Bob. Despite there being no body, no weapon, no eye-witnesses, no confession, no motive, no forensic evidence linking Sue to the crime, no time of death and Sue had no prior history of crime.
In October 2010 Sue was found guilty of murdering Bob, and sentenced to 26 years in jail. Sue’s appeal to the Supreme Court of Tasmania failed in 2012, although her sentence was reduced to 23 years. Sue is now using the new Right to Appeal legislation, and is seeking an Appeal, a process now reaching its third year. Facts about Bob Chappell’s disappearance are still emerging ten years later.
What do we know?
1. A LARGE VOLUME OF DNA AT THE CRIME SCENE – on the deck of the yacht. A whopping size 260mm x 210mm puddle of DNA. It was ignored, at a time when Sue was awaiting trial. Then a year after the murder the DNA was identified to a street kid who ran with thieves who broke into yachts and lied about her whereabouts that night. Why was she never investigated properly, or her associates? Why did the court allow the DNA to be considered as secondary transfer? (walked onto the yacht by a policeman’s boot) Secondary transfer is impossible, given the size of the DNA puddle.
2. Sue thought she visited Bunnings on Australia Day, but couldn’t be seen on the CCTV footage. She later said she may have been confused. Yet, her phone records prove she rang her daughter - saying she intended to go there - and she called Bunnings around 1.00pm. Bunnings closed at 6.00pm. If the murder happened late at night, what turns on Bunnings? What’s the point?
3. Obvious suspects with criminal records, on or off Sandy Bay at the time, were ignored. Some were homeless, others thieves, some drunks. One had a yacht moored close to the Four Winds. Another was later charged with attempted murder, and jailed.
4. Whilst Sue was home on that evening, she received a phone call from a stranger. This stranger told her a bizarre story that Bob could be harmed on his yacht. This prompted Sue to walk down to the foreshore, concerned by what she had been told, but she failed to tell police. Whilst at the foreshore Sue saw homeless people gathered around a fire pot. Later she claimed to be rattled by the prediction of the stranger, who said his information came from Bob’s daughter. Police confirm Sue had nothing to do with this call, other than to receive it and she never knew the caller previously. Despite the fantastic nature of the call police never fully followed it up. And never formally interviewed the daughter.
5. Police told the court that there were no thefts from yachts, or break and enters leading up to the night of Bob’s killing. Yet there were thieves breaking into boats along the Derwent. And thieves that broke into one boat the same evening, nearby, and (additionally) a shed near the water’s edge and stole food. The details of these reports were kept from the defence.
6. A resident overlooking the bay saw a weather-beaten man, in a zodiac dinghy around 7.45pm to 8.30pm the night of the murder, near to the Four Winds. She described him as “male, solid/stocky build, late 40s to early 50s, weather beaten sailor look type, short reddish brown hair, but not close shaven. The hair was possibly a bit wavy and fairly thick. The male was wearing a collared white sleeved shirt with no obvious pattern or emblem.” Remarkably, police turned this rugged male description to match the description of Sue!
7. Within hours of Bob’s disappearance Sue was shown a red jacket found on a fence of a house on the foreshore. She was in shock and on sedatives. At first she didn’t recognise it as hers. It was later tested and had Sue’s DNA on the collar and cuffs. However, the jacket had no blood or DNA or evidence that it was used in a murder.
8. A witness sitting in his car on the Rowing Shed Point, between 11.30pm and midnight on Australia Day, claims to have seen someone in a dinghy, heading out towards the yacht. He thought it may be the outline of a woman. Police decided it was Sue! However, a man came forward stating it was he, in his dinghy, that night, and witnesses corroborated it. The same man has very long hair and an effeminate build.
9. There was a grey inflatable dinghy seen at the crime scene (yacht) by four people. One of these people described a grey lee-cloth attached. This lead was not followed up by police. (Sue had a new bright white dinghy with blue stripes and no lee-cloth.)
10. On Australia day afternoon Sue tied up her white dinghy at the Royal Yacht Club. The next morning it was found floating near rocks in front of the Sandy Bay Rowing Sheds. Immediately in front of a car where a homeless man slept rough, and where Sue saw a gathering the night of the murder. The car belonged to a man with a criminal record who knew Bob and Sue, for a short time, helping them with their dinghy.
11. A key exhibit offered at trial: Sue’s dinghy, was found abandoned at the water’s edge. Yet there were no blood results inside or on the dinghy. And no forensics or any evidence. How could she kill Bob (which would cause massive traces of blood) without ANY transfer of evidence to the key exhibit?
12. A witness said that in the days leading up to Bob’s disappearance he saw an old scruffy grey inflatable dinghy, coming and going a few times. It was usually left next to the sharp rocks of the Sandy Bay Rowing Shed Point, in front of the homeless man’s car, the same position Sue’s dinghy was found abandoned on 27 January 2019.
13. The DPP told the jury Sue cleaned up the crime with latex gloves. Three latex gloves were found – one with a police officer’s DNA, another with Bob’s son’s DNA – Tim Chappell, and the third with mixed unidentified DNA, found on the saloon floor.
14. The Forensic Log presented at trial had key exhibits deleted from the document. Where are the exhibits? Such as a blue towel and two vomit rags that were found by the Forensic Scientist. Exhibits that could show others were on board. Someone may have vomited during the murder. Why were these, and a hair on the bloody steps, never tested?
15. Person D is the temporary ID of a female given to the DNA identified from a long colourless hair found on the deck on the yacht. This person has never been identified. Why hasn’t there been a national data base search done for this and ten other important exhibits?
16. A Coroner investigated the death of a man known as Dennis O'Day, apparently he committed suicide, jumping off the Tasman Bridge, where his car was found. So why did the DPP say at Sue’s trial in his closing address: “Very hard she would have thought with her involvement with the disappearing young Mr O’Day and what happened to him, no one knew, disappeared, no body.” This inflammatory comment had no legal or factual relevance to Sue.
17. The same DPP invented murder weapons – a wrench and screwdriver - then placed them in the hands of Sue, at trial. No such weapons existed. The DPP misled the Jury, despite no body, by saying: "She's walking backwards and forwards and delivers blow - a blow or blows, or maybe stabs him with a screwdriver, I don't know, he doesn't look round, and so the body doesn't have any marks of what you'd expect if someone had come down there, a stranger, intent on doing him harm, the body I suggest would have marks consistent only with being delivered by someone who he knew to be there, who he knew and expected to be behind him." Such an inflammatory comment could only prejudice Sue.
18. Police claimed Sue winched Bob’s body out of the wheelhouse of the yacht, alone. Yet, with Sue’s back injury and physicality, she could not have winched the body as described. Even maritime witnesses claimed she was unable to use the winch.
19. A witness reported seeing the yacht and Bob – alive – at 5pm. It was found that the witness was looking at the wrong yacht. Also the wrong dinghy and wrong man.
20. A witness thought she saw Bob and Sue arguing on the foreshore – turns out to be the day before, and Bob's sister. Not Sue.
21. A supposed cut on Sue’s thumb ‘emerged’ weeks after Bob’s disappearance. This revelation came from a police Sergeant. He never photographed or logged the (supposed) injury in his notebook. Nor did police investigate it thoroughly or interview Sue about it, or do any DNA or medical test to prove the so-called cut. Like the wrench or screwdriver, it was just handy dialogue.
22. The violent background of the star Crown witness who came forward with a story about Sue’s 'plots to kill' Bob and her brother, was never told to the court, nor were they made aware of the threats by him towards Bob and Sue. Or how Sue reported this same aggressive man to police years earlier.
23. Sue and Bob believed, weeks earlier, the yacht had been entered and things moved around.
24. A large old fire extinguisher was missing from its bracket, on the yacht. Some witnesses stated there was no such extinguisher there. One was Bob’s own sister, who worked at an extinguisher supply company and recalled it was missing. Yet, police claim it was used by Sue to weigh Bob’s body down. Two others also stated they didn’t see the fire extinguisher on board before the murder.
25. Justice Blow, the trial judge and now the Chief Justice of Tasmania, said this in his Sentencing Remarks 27 October 2010: “…Ms Neill-Fraser is now 56 years old. She has no prior convictions. She apparently led a blameless life until she murdered Mr Chappell. Otherwise, there is almost nothing that counts in her favour for sentencing purposes. She did not plead guilty. She has shown no remorse. She has not said or done anything that would assist in the finding of the body. There is no suggestion that Mr Chappell said or did anything to provoke this crime, or even to warrant hostility on the part of Ms Neill-Fraser. It was a deliberate killing for the purpose of some sort of personal gain. It warrants a heavier sentence than most murders…”
This content will be updated over coming weeks.