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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Monday June 15, 2020 

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The 80 minute documentary Shadow of Doubt by Melbourne filmmaker, Eve Ash, has galvanised lawyers and barristers to protest at the 2010 murder conviction of Sue Neill-Fraser, citing disturbing parallels with the infamous Lindy Chamberlain case.

Speaking at a public forum (moderated by Andrew L. Urban) after a special screening in Sydney last week, Chester Porter QC (Counsel Assisting the Morling Royal Commission into the Chamberlain case) said: “ .. as far as I'm concerned, and I do claim to be somewhat of an expert on miscarriages of justice in the criminal area, there is no doubt in my mind that this case calls for an Inquiry. There are very substantial doubts about this case. I can put it this way: it would not have been at all surprising if the jury had acquitted this lady because the evidence was so weak against her.

“But with the additional evidence that is now available, it is hard to see how any conviction could stand.”

Neill-Fraser was convicted and jailed for 23 years for the 2009 murder of her partner of 18 years, Bob Chappell, on board their yacht. However, since Chappell’s disappearance, no body has been found, no murder weapon was produced in evidence and there were no witnesses; Neill-Fraser has strenuously denied her guilt.

Lindy Chamberlain’s lawyer Stuart Tipple also spoke at the forum and drew troubling parallels between the two cases, suggesting a high likelihood of a similar gross miscarriage of justice.

“I see many parallels with this case to the Chamberlain case,” said Tipple. “I also had the problem of asking the Attorney General in the NT to review the case. I was able to show him that the foetal blood spray was sound deadener, amongst a number of other things, and all I got was a letter saying that he had reviewed it after nearly 6 months of sitting on it and there was nothing cogent that required any review. So I see many parallels. It deeply disturbs me.”

Dr Robert N. Moles, former professor of law, has investigated alleged miscarriages of justice for 14 years, and is the author of Forensic Investigations and Miscarriages of Justice, (Irwin Law, Toronto, 2010): “In the book, I set out the law on miscarriages of justice in Australia. I can say with confidence that the conviction of Sue Neil-Fraser does not comply with the Australian law on this topic.”

After seeing Shadow of Doubt, eminent barrister Robert Richter QC said: “If half of what is alleged [in the film] is well founded, this case requires a full judicial inquiry into the investigation and prosecution of the case. There's no dingo, but there's significant DNA and other evidentiary material to require answers which are not circumscribed by the adversarial and limited appellate processes.”

(Richter’s reference to the appellate processes refers to the appeal to Tasmania’s Court of Criminal Appeal which was rejected and the leave to appeal to the High Court which was not granted.)

Also disturbed is Bill Rowlings OAM, CEO, Civil Liberties Australia, who said after viewing Shadow of Doubt: “Police filter the truth. Forensic science is abused. The prosecutor invents a murder weapon, and the judge agrees. A miscarriage of justice so blatant you won't believe it possible in 21st century Australia.”

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