Supporters of convicted murderer Sue Neill-Fraser are confident she could be acquitted as a new witness prepares to reveal what happened on the day her long-time partner disappeared.
The Tasmanian grandmother was sentenced to 23 years in prison for killing radiation physicist Bob Chappell on the couple’s yacht on Australia Day in 2009.
No body or murder weapon was ever found. Neill-Fraser was convicted on circumstantial evidence of bashing Bob to death and disposing of his body in Hobart’s Derwent River.
“There is no doubt in my mind that mum is innocent. She did not commit this crime,” Neill-Fraser’s daughter, Sarah Bowles, told Matt Doran in a major Sunday Night investigation.
Mrs Bowles said that one of the few pieces of forensic evidence obtained from the yacht will be crucial to her mother’s upcoming appeal hearing.
A small, dark stain found on the deck was matched to the DNA of a 15-year-old homeless girl named Meaghan Vass, who, at Neill-Fraser’s first trial, denied ever stepping foot on the vessel.
In the Sunday Night investigation, reporter Matt Doran revealed that an unidentified witness, whose statement will be presented at Sue’s appeal hearing, will detail private conversations she had with Meaghan about what happened on the yacht.
Two attempts to overturn the 62-year-old’s murder conviction have failed, but Sarah is optimistic about the new evidence they’re planning to present in court.
“I’m very confident that we are going to win this and mum should be acquitted at the end of it,” Sarah said.
“We have very strong and compelling evidence that is going to be presented and I think as this plays out, we’re going to witness once of Australia’s biggest miscarriages of justice cases since the Lindy Chamberlain saga.”
Sue has spent much of her time behind bars thinking not only about the day she will be free, but also about Bob Chappell, the man she lost.
“I think the memories that we collected together over the years are what sustains me now, because whatever they do to me they can’t take those away,” Sue said in a phone call to her daughter.
“My life as I knew it has come to an end and I just have to try and put the pieces back together.”