Sue Neill-Fraser's hopes of fighting for her freedom next month are now officially crushed, with COVID-19 delaying her murder appeal hearing until 2021.
Sue Neill-Fraser's hopes of fighting for her freedom next month are now officially crushed, with COVID-19 delaying her murder appeal hearing until 2021.

‘Unbelievable’: Killer's 2020 appeal hopes crushed

CONVICTED killer Sue Neill-Fraser will not be getting out of jail this year.

Her second, and possibly final, bid to prove her innocence was officially adjourned on Wednesday until March 2021 by the Court of Criminal Appeal.

Appearing via video link from Melbourne and clad in a face mask, her newly-silked lawyer Chris Carr QC explained that he and the other interstate members of Neill-Fraser's legal team could not attend a November 2 appeal hearing due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.

He also told Justice Helen Wood the matter could not alternatively go ahead with lawyers in Victoria and Western Australia appearing via video link instead.

Mr Carr said his instructing solicitor had outlined the "very unfortunate" situation to Neill-Fraser, "and she understands".

Director of Public Prosecutions Daryl Coates didn't object to the adjournment - the third one this year - saying it would be unfair to require Neill-Fraser to find alternative, local lawyers only one month out from the appeal.

Sue Neill-Fraser supporter Rosie Crumpton-Crook leaves the Supreme Court of Tasmania on Wednesday.
Sue Neill-Fraser supporter Rosie Crumpton-Crook leaves the Supreme Court of Tasmania on Wednesday.

Justice Wood - who has been reluctant to yet again postpone proceedings - agreed, adding it would result in "real injustice" to Neill-Fraser to force on the appeal in November.

She adjourned the hearing until March 1 - when sittings return next year.

However, Mr Carr also said the expected two-week appeal hearing was now only expected to run over five days following discussions with counsel for the State of Tasmania.

He also said the first witness would be Meaghan Vass, who was a 15-year-old homeless girl - and whose DNA was found at the crime scene - at the time of the 2009 murder.

Speaking outside court, supporter Rosie Crumpton-Crook said it was "unbelievable" Neill-Fraser would spend her 12th Christmas in prison.

"She accepts that this delay is inevitable but obviously it's hard," she said.

"Sue did make it clear she did not want the appeal to go ahead by distance or to have to brief new counsel - that would have just been too hard."

In 2010, Neill-Fraser was found guilty of murdering her partner Bob Chappell aboard the couple's yacht, the Four Winds, off Marieville Esplanade at Sandy Bay.

Prosecutors during the trial said Neill-Fraser struck Mr Chappell with a wrench or other tool then dumped his body overboard.

Mr Chappell's body has never been found.

*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.

amber.wilson@news.com.au

 

Originally published as 'Unbelievable': Sue Neill-Fraser's 2020 appeal hopes crushed


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