A new witness has given evidence that may give convicted murderer Susan Neill-Fraser a final appeal.
Justice Michael Brett will decide if testimony provided to the Hobart Supreme Court by former detective and true crime author Colin McLaren is compelling enough to allow Ms Neill-Fraser a final appeal.
Ms Neill-Fraser is currently serving a 23-year sentence for killing her partner Bob Chappell on their yacht Four Winds, which was moored in the Hobart suburb of Sandy Bay, in 2009.
Director of Public Prosecutions Daryl Coates cross-examined the witness via video conference to Melbourne regarding a contentious piece of evidence, a signed affidavit by Meaghan Vass.
In the affidavit Ms Vass, whose DNA was found on Four Winds, said she was on the yacht and saw Mr Chappell on the night of his disappearance and a male companion fought Mr Chappell, however Ms Neill-Fraser was absent.
Since signing the affidavit Ms Vass said she was made to sign the statement out of fear.
The court heard Mr McLaren drafted a document that later was added to by Ms Vass and submitted as her affidavit.
Mr McLaren confirmed he drafted the document without Ms Vass present.
The court heard accounts of Ms Vass telling Mr McLaren she did not recall being on the yacht.
“She said many, many times she was trying to recall,” Mr McLaren said.
Mr McLaren said Ms Vass only once verbally told him she had been present on the yacht, via a phone call on January 16, 2017.
Mr McLaren said he did not threaten Ms Vass to provide the affidavit or provide “cash for comment”.
“I prefer not to offer witnesses money,” Mr McLaren said.
Mr McLaren told the court he did lie to Ms Vass prior to the affidavit, saying a hair found on the yacht was tested and found to be hers.
“I was waiting for her reaction,” Mr McLaren said.
Mr McLaren began investigating the Susan Neill-Fraser case as part of his research for a true novel about Bob Chappell’s death which was published on January 29 this year.
“I was always fascinated with this case,” Mr McLaren said.
Justice Brett adjourned the court to continue at 9.30am on Wednesday.
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