Overview

On Australia Day 2009 Mr Bob Chappell, Royal Hobart Hospital’s chief radiation physicist went missing. His body has never been found. His partner of 18 years Susan Neill-Fraser has since been found guilty of his murder in the Tasmanian criminal courts.

Bob had been doing maintenance on their yacht Four Winds, purchased by the couple from its previous owners at Scarborough Marina in Queensland. The yacht was to be the focal point of Bob and Sue’s retirement together.

The conviction, which relied entirely upon circumstantial evidence, resulted in a prison term for Susan of 26 years. During the trial, there was no proof presented of a murder weapon and no witnesses to the alleged act. Susan has never waivered in her claim of innocence. The accusation that she is responsible for his death, has shocked and hurt her deeply.

From her arrest on August 20 2009 and the subsequent trial in October 2010, Susan spent the entire time at Risdon Women’s Prison, despite being under the presumption of innocence. During this period Susan was only able to see her Daughters Emma and Sarah up to three times a week and had limited access to her lawyers.

Sue and Bob, 2007

Sarah Bowles and Emma Fraser-Meeker, Sue’s daughters, remember Bob Chappell as a father figure and an inspiration. Notably, Sarah was motivated by Bob to also pursue a career in the Health Sciences. Sarah and Emma remain heartbroken since his disappearance and now face life ahead with their mother in jail.

Susan is a self-made businesswoman and independently financially secure. The family remain bewildered by the prosecution’s claim that the murder was an attempt to secure Mr Chappell’s assets.

An appeal was lodged in August 2011 in an effort to achieve an overturning of the conviction of murder. Susan Neill-Fraser, her mother and daughters, their partners and friends are united in overturning the murder conviction. In a statement to the media, Sarah Bowles affirmed “I think that we’re quite ready to fight this one straight on and keep going.”

On Tuesday 6 March 2012 the appeal against conviction was rejected. The family and legal team worked to advance Sue’s plight and lodged an application seeking leave to appeal to the High Court of Australia. This Application was rejected on Friday 7 September 2012.

Currently the only legal avenue open to Sue is the ‘Petition for Mercy’. As Barbara Etter identifies on her blog:

Section 419 of the Tasmanian Criminal Code states:

The Attorney-General, on the consideration of any petition for the exercise of His Majesty’s mercy, having reference to the conviction of any person or to any sentence passed on a convicted person, may -

(a) refer the whole case to the Court, and the case shall be heard and determined by the Court as in the case of an appeal by a person convicted; or

(b) if he desires the assistance of the Court on any point arising in the case with a view to the determination of the petition, refer that point to the Court for its opinion thereon, and the Court shall consider the point so referred and furnish the Attorney-General with its opinion thereon accordingly.

We hope that this mechanism may allow for this miscarriage of justice to be referred back to the court. While we try to remain optimistic, it is disheartening knowing that the legal system that let her down is also the system that we must rely on to free her. As such, a passionate and determined group of individuals, including high-profile criminal lawyers, are united in their shared concern about the processes surrounding this case and call for an Inquiry. Indeed, many see that this is more than the plight of one woman. There is something much larger at stake and that is our justice system and its effectiveness in determining truth and administering justice.

If you are interested in joining the fight for an improved justice system, you can contact the Support group via the following link Supporters of Sue Neill-Fraser

Alternatively, please refer to the Contact tab at the top of this website for access to other contacts, including Sue’s solicitor and key resources.

If you would like updates on Susan’s fight to prove her innocence, join our email mailing list or contact her through info@susanneillfraser.org

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