The prosecution team in the long-running Sue Neill-Fraser murder case has dismissed new so-called fresh and compelling evidence, used as justification for a last-ditch appeal to overturn a 2010 conviction.
Crime scene investigator Mark Reynolds took the stand in the Hobart Supreme Court on Thursday with three reports that were critical of Forensic Science Service Tasmania’s crime scene and laboratory analyses.
Neill-Fraser is serving 23 years in jail after a jury decided in the original trial that she had killed her partner Bob Chappell on Australia Day in 2009 while aboard their yacht outside Hobart.
The prosecution argued that she had winched his body onto a dinghy and disposed of it in the River Derwent.
A murder weapon and body were never found.
Dr Reynolds prepared three reports on blood stain pattern and trace blood analysis as well as the the state of the winch and ropes on the yacht.
Although he had attended thousands of crime scenes over 18 years of forensic investigation, this was the first time he investigated a crime scene on a yacht and examined ropes and winches through photos, Dr Reynolds said.
Director of Public Prosecutions Daryl Coates, on Thursday morning, moved to discredit the reports and questioned the author’s experience and arguments contained in his analysis.
Dr Reynolds agreed there was nothing fresh in the reports and their details could have been used in the 2010 murder trial.
New legislation in 2015 had allowed Neill-Fraser one last avenue of appeal, provided her defence team could could provide fresh and compelling evidence.
Under questioning from Mr Coates, Dr Reynolds agreed the yacht’s winch was geared in a way that meant it would take three kilograms of effort to lift 81 kilograms of weight.
“If [Neill-Fraser] could move three kilograms, then she could have done it,” he said.
Dr Reynolds said there was no consistency in the tests used to detect blood on the dinghy, with one testing method returning a negative result and one returning a positive result in the same spot.
“There is no reliability in any of these screening tests.”
Mr Coates said luminol was a sensitive chemical that could detect blood diluted to 1:100,000 particles.
“Yet you can exclude that blood was present at the detectable levels?” he said.
Another witness will be called upon on Friday to give evidence before the matter is adjourned to a final four-day hearing from June 26.
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