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Susan Neill-Fraser loses murder appeal

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Convicted murderer Susan Neill-Fraser has lost her latest bid for freedom, with a Tasmanian court dismissing the Hobart grandmother’s appeal.

The 67-year-old was found guilty in 2010 of murdering Bob Chappell on the couple’s yacht while it was moored off Hobart on Australia Day the year prior.

She was sentenced to 23 years’ jail but launched an appeal several years ago under new laws based on the argument there was “fresh and compelling” evidence in the case.


Tasmania’s Court of Criminal Appeal dismissed her appeal on Tuesday.

“After careful consideration of this appeal I have reached the conclusion that the evidence relied upon … is not fresh, not compelling,” Justice Helen Wood said.

Neill-Fraser’s lawyers were sensationally forced to abandon the evidence of key witness Meaghan Vass during appeal hearings in March.

The DNA of Ms Vass, who was a homeless teenager at the time of Mr Chappell’s death, was found aboard the Four Winds yacht.

She initially told the hearing she was on the yacht the night of the murder but then recanted her evidence, claiming she was coerced into giving it.

Neill-Fraser’s legal team had argued evidence of a forensic expert, if put to the jury at the trial, may have resulted in a different verdict.

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Her lawyer Chris Carr QC had said the chance of secondary DNA transfer was greatly overstated at the trial by the prosecution.

Neill-Fraser will be eligible for parole in August. She was found guilty of attacking Mr Chappell, dumping his body in the River Derwent and trying to sink the boat.

Her first appeal was dismissed in 2012 by the Court of Criminal Appeal.


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