Final preparations begin to hear ‘fresh and compelling’ evidence at Susan Neill-Fraser appeal

Susan Neill-Fraser has been released on parole after 13 years in jail for killing Bob Chappell.

Susan Neill-Fraser has been released on parole after 13 years in jail for killing Bob Chappell. Photo: AAP

A key witness in the murder appeal of Hobart grandmother Susan Neill-Fraser will give evidence via video link at the landmark hearing.

Neill-Fraser, 67, is serving 23 years in jail for killing partner Bob Chappell on the couple’s yacht moored off Hobart on Australia Day 2009.

Her second appeal bid will begin in the Supreme Court on Monday after her legal team convinced a judge there was “fresh and compelling” evidence in the case.

High-profile barrister Robert Richter QC, who has previously represented George Pell, appeared as part of Neill-Fraser’s legal team during a directions hearing on Wednesday.

In 2017, he met then-Premier Will Hodgman to push for an independent inquiry into Neill-Fraser’s case.

The court was told key witness Meaghan Vass, whose DNA was found on the yacht, will give evidence at the hearing via video link from another room in the court.

Director of Public Prosecutions Daryl Coates said it is vital Ms Vass is in the court building so she can be given documents.

Neill-Fraser claims there is new evidence that Ms Vass, who was homeless at the time, was aboard the yacht the night of the murder and Mr Chappell was attacked while Ms Vass was there.

Neill-Fraser’s first appeal against her 2010 conviction was dismissed by the Court of Criminal Appeal in 2012.

A jury found she attacked Mr Chappell, used ropes and winches to lift his body onto the yacht’s tender and dumped his body in deep water.

Mr Chappell’s body has never been found.

Neill-Fraser, who is eligible for parole in August 2022, won the right to a second appeal bid in 2019 under new Tasmanian laws that required “fresh and compelling” evidence to be brought forward.

If the appeal is successful Neill-Fraser could face a re-trial or her conviction could be quashed.


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