Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Susan Neill-Fraser: Australia; Crime author Robin Bowles says the key weakness in the case was the way a hypothetical scenario was presented as fact - and that, given the absence of motive, weapon and cause of death "probably not have been convicted and jailed for the murder of her partner Bob Chappell if she’d exercised her right to silence when questioned by police."..." “I was very surprised that Susan was so open and so willing to download and tell me her story so quickly,” she said of their jailhouse chat. “That’s part of her personality. She has difficulty not sharing with people. “We were about an hour into the meeting and I thought ‘I don’t believe this’. “I said ‘you know why you’re sitting here Susan?’ And her eyes lit up like I’d solved the case. “And I said, ‘It’s because you didn’t shut up. The police had nothing, they had no motive, no weapon, no cause of death, nothing’. “The more she spoke the more I realised the police had no case unless she assisted them with their inquiries.”

GIST: "Susan Neill-Fraser would probably not have been convicted and jailed for the murder of her partner Bob Chappell if she’d exercised her right to silence when questioned by police, a leading crime author says. Robin Bowles interviewed Neill-Fraser in prison for her new book Jail Birds, which focuses on infamous cases involving female offenders. Neill-Fraser is serving 23 years for Mr Chappell’s murder after he disappeared from the couple’s yacht moored near Sandy Bay on Australia Day, 2009. His body has never been found and a determined group of supporters is campaigning for Ms Neill-Fraser’s conviction to be overturned. A bid to have her freed on the basis of new evidence is before the Supreme Court. Ms Bowles said it quickly became evident to her that without the evidence Neill-Fraser herself provided, there never would have been a murder prosecution. Ms Bowles says the key weakness in the case was the way a hypothetical scenario was presented as fact."

The entire story can be found at:


See  earlier News.com story: "No body murder convictions prompt calls for shake up of Australia's legal system: "In 2010, Susan Blyth Neill-Fraser was jailed for life in Hobart for the murder of her de facto partner of 18 years, Bob Chappell. Chappell, 65, was about to retire as the Royal Hobart Hospital’s chief radiation physicist when he went missing from the couple’s yacht Four Winds while sailing off Hobart on Australia Day 2009. The judge said Neill-Fraser killed him for money. She was jailed for 26 years with an 18-year non-parole period. Chappell’s body has never been found and Neill-Fraser maintains her innocence. Criminal lawyer Barbara Etter — who represents Neill-Fraser — told news.com.au Australia’s legal system was in need of a shake up. She said “right to appeal” provisions were inconsistent in Australia and that an independent Criminal Cases Review Commission, similar to one in the UK, needed to be introduced. “New Innocence Projects are emerging here in Australia, but appealing a murder conviction, particularly after normal appeal avenues have failed, continues to be a David v Goliath battle,” Ms Etter said. In circumstances where appeals have been exhausted and “fresh and compelling evidence emerges”, the only way to get the matter back in court, in most cases, is to appeal to the executive under a petition for mercy. “That can be problematic and not as transparent,” Ms Etter said. NSW, “unlike South Australia and Tasmania”, does not have legislation that allows for a second or subsequent appeal where there is fresh and compelling evidence, according to Ms Etter. “It would seem that there would be benefit in having some consistency in the current appeal provisions throughout Australia,” she said. Ms Etter said there was a growing concern about miscarriage of justice cases because of an increase of exonerations in the US and public debate surrounding the US case of Steven Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey, who featured on the Netflix docu-series Making a Murderer. She said Australia needed “to look at other mechanisms to enable those who may have been wrongfully convicted to get their matters back before the court in a reasonable time frame”."


See Robin Bowles bio: "In 1996 Robin read a newspaper report about the alleged suicide of Victorian country housewife Jennifer Tanner. Guessing there might be a book in the ‘story behind the news’, she closed her PR business for a year and wrote a best seller, Blind Justice, now in its eighth reprint. She has written a bestseller almost every year since. During her career as an investigative writer she also obtained a private investigator’s licence. Some of the cases she was involved in inspired her novels, The Curse of the Golden Yo-Yo and Mystery of the Missing Masterpiece. Widely recognised as Australia’s foremost true crime writer, Robin is also a national convenor of Sisters in Crime Australia. ‘Robin Bowles relentless investigation, including over 50 hours spent interviewing Bradley Murdoch, reveals not only the complexities of a case investigated over thousands of kilometres, but realities of people and places which are almost alien to those of us who hug the green shores around the dead centre and populate that landscape with our deepest fears and worst imaginings,’ Katrina Beard presenting the Davitt Award for true crime to Dead Centre, 2006."



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The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:


Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:


Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.