Susan Neill-Fraser wins right to appeal against conviction for murder of partner Bob Chappell
Hobart woman Susan Neill-Fraser has won her application for an appeal against her murder conviction.
Neill-Fraser, 65, who was found guilty of the 2009 murder of her partner Bob Chappell, succeeded in her bid to convince a judge her legal defence had “fresh and compelling” evidence that should be heard.
On Thursday, Justice Michael Brett detailed his reasons to a packed courtroom for almost an hour before revealing that Neill-Fraser would be granted leave to appeal against her murder conviction.
Justice Brett found that DNA evidence of a then homeless teenager Meaghan Vass found on board the yacht, and her recent statements that she had been on board – contrary to what Ms Vass said at the 2010 trial – met the criteria of “fresh and compelling needed for the application to succeed.
Justice Brett said he did not need to make a finding on its “credibility”.
Susan Neill-Fraser was convicted of her partner Bob Chappell’s murder.
Neill-Fraser was convicted by a jury in 2010 of killing Mr Chappell on board the yacht Four Winds, which was moored in the River Derwent on Australia Day 2009.
During the 2010 trial, the Crown argued she had bludgeoned Mr Chappell with a wrench, disposing of his body in the River Derwent and scuttling the yacht, which was later found half submerged.
The trial heard she had decided their relationship was over and was aware that she would be financially better off if it ended in Mr Chappell’s death, rather than by separation.
The Crown said she had repeatedly lied to police about where she was on the night Mr Chappell was killed.
Neill-Fraser’s supporters have been outspoken in their belief of her innocence, regularly pointing out no body or weapon have been recovered.
Her daughter Sarah Bowles spoke outside court, saying the family was “extremely grateful” for the decision.