SHADOW OF DOUBT
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.