No body. No weapon. No witness. One suspect.
A sinister story unfolds in picturesque Tasmania.
In 2010 Sue Neill-Fraser, Tasmanian grandmother, is jailed for 26 years for killing her partner Bob, who disappeared. No body. No weapon. No witness. No confession. No forensic evidence linking Sue to the crime. Police had ONE suspect. Now Sue’s family fights to prove a miscarriage of justice. Set in Hobart, this documentary follows one of the most intriguing and alarming legal cases in recent Australian history.
Produced and directed by Eve Ash | Cinematographer Cesar Salmeron | Written by Eve Ash and Cindy Clarkson | Edited by Cindy Clarkson.
Set in Hobart, this documentary follows one of the most intriguing and alarming legal cases in recent Australian history.
Bob Chappell, radiation physicist, aged 65, was last seen alive on Australia Day, 26 January 2009. In October 2010, his partner of 18 years, Sue Neill-Fraser, was convicted of murder and jailed for 26 years, later reduced to 23 years. This is the first time someone has been jailed in Tasmania for murder based solely on circumstantial evidence and without a body. Sue has always protested her innocence, vehemently denying any involvement in Bob’s disappearance.
There were no eye witnesses, no weapon, no plausible motive and Bob’s body has never been found. No forensic evidence linked Sue to the crime scene, Four Winds, the couple’s luxury 54’ yacht moored in the Derwent River, Sandy Bay, Tasmania. On the day Bob disappeared he was working on Four Winds. Sue had returned to shore in the couple’s dinghy… Bob decided to keep working and stay on board overnight. Early the next morning the yacht was found sabotaged, sinking and there was no sign of Bob.
The prosecution’s case was simple: On Australia Day Sue went back to the yacht, struck Bob from behind with a wrench, returned late at night, winched his body into a dinghy, sinking Bob with a big fire extinguisher. Detective Inspector Peter Powell who headed the investigation is convinced of Sue’s guilt. He doesn’t believe shock is sufficient reason to tell lies and is satisfied the police investigation was thorough and conclusive.
SHADOW OF DOUBT explores why the police accepted a dubious informant and why they felt no need to investigate other persons of interest or follow other leads. Barbara Etter APM, former Assistant Police Commissioner and lawyer, identified many flaws in the case and new evidence not investigated.
A prime suspect (a teenager) was never fully investigated by the police. Her DNA was found on the yacht, but only matched to a name after Sue was already in prison. A stranger who called Sue late on the night Bob disappeared to warn that something bad would happen to Bob on board the yacht was never fully investigated.
SHADOW OF DOUBT follows Sue’s family and friends as they uncover evidence to try and prove Sue is innocent. It will question the way this crime was investigated, the witness problems, how the media was used to shape perceptions, and the shocking mistakes and omissions.
This powerful, compelling documentary will show ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that Sue Neill-Fraser was NOT the only person who could have killed Bob Chappell.
This program covers:
• analysis of a circumstantial case
• factors leading to a miscarriage of justice
• problematic police investigations
• mistakes in court
• unreliable witnesses
• For personal and community viewing.
• For University LAW courses, Criminology courses, Police training, Legal studies at schools.
• Especially for the study of Miscarriagesof Justice and wrongful convictions.
• Women's Rights.
SCREENINGS & FESTIVALS
• Cinema and group screenings – in Melbourne, Hobart, Sydney, Canberra 2013-2014
• CiTV (Crime & Investigation network) FOXTEL Cable Screened in Australia July-August 2013, Jan 2014 and August 2014
• Australian Film Institute AACTA Awards – 2013 Nomination for Best Feature Documentary
• CINE AWARD Winner – Gold Eagle Award 2013, USA
• Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival Official Selection 2013
• Santa Monica Independent Film Festival 2013 - Awarded an Honorable Mention
• Chain New York Chain Festival 2013 - Official Selection
• Southampton International FilmFestival (6 Oct 2013) - Nominated for Best Documentary | Best Sound in a Documentary
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 C Australia. Bill Rowlings OAM, CEO of Civil Liberties Australia
If this doco doesn’t lead to an urgent, independent investigation of the Susan Neill-Fraser conviction of 2010, it will be yet another miscarriage of justice. Watch it and weep. Superbly crafted in all departments, Shadow of Doubt shows the power of filmmaking as a lever for making a difference. Andrew Urban http://www.urbancinefile.com.au/
The film’s footage has been gathered over a number of years, and expertly brought together by the filmmakers, including producer/director Eve Ash and editor Cindy Clarkson. It hooks the viewer from the opening titles and keeps you on the edge of your seat until the end. ‘Shadow of Doubt’ is a powerful tale that deserves to be viewed by the widest audience. Mark Poole, Contributor to Screen Hub.
I studied a large number of miscarriages of justice cases from Australia, the UK and Canada and can say with confidence that the conviction of Sue Neil-Fraser does not comply with the Australian law on this topic. In this case, there is no compelling evidence to show that Bob Chappell is dead, let alone murdered. How can anyone feel comfortable and safe after seeing this film? Dr Robert Moles – Author, Forensic Investigations and Miscarriages of Justice, Irwin Law, Toronto, 2010.
If half of what is alleged 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. Robert Richter QC