Convicted husband killer's appeal likely to be delayed
CONVICTED murderer Susan Neill-Fraser's drawn-out fight for freedom is likely to be delayed for two months.
Neill-Fraser, 65, appeared in the Tasmanian Court of Criminal Appeal via video link from the Mary Hutchinson's Women's Prison this morning ahead of her second - and possibly last - appeal bid against her 2010 murder conviction.
Her Melbourne-based lawyer Paul Gallbally, also appearing via video link, asked the court if an anticipated March 2020 appeal hearing could be delayed until May 25, when Perth barrister Tom Percy QC became available.
Justice Helen Wood said the court would try to accommodate the request and would notify both legal teams by letter next week.
Neill-Fraser is behind bars for 23 years for killing her partner Bob Chappell, 65, on board their yacht Four Winds on Australia Day 2009.
His body has never been found.
Also this morning, Director of Public Prosecutions Daryl Coates SC said a "significant amount" of evidence in the appeal books was contentious.
He described some of the material was inadmissable opinion, not "fresh and compelling", or "completely irrelevant".
The parties also discussed the footage and transcript of a 60 Minutes interview with witness Meaghan Vass, which was aired outside Tasmania and recently provided to the court by the Nine Network.
Mr Gallbally said both appellant and respondent teams planned to meet in January to decide on what evidence would go before the court by way of agreement.
Justice Wood said an appeal hearing was expected to take two weeks, but could "overrun" that period.
Neill-Fraser's first appeal against conviction failed, but laws introduced in 2015 gave her another chance to appeal on the ground there was "fresh and compelling evidence".
Another directions hearing will be held in February ahead of the appeal hearing, at a date to be fixed.
*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.