Home Port Arthur Sue Neill-Fraser and a Petition of Mercy for Martin Bryant

Sue Neill-Fraser and a Petition of Mercy for Martin Bryant

(L) Vanessa Goodwin  (R) Sue Neill-Fraser

by Mary W Maxwell, LLB

Last Australia day (January 26, 2017), I went to Launceston to host a poetry reading in the park. Hardly anyone showed up, so I was able to talk to folks about the Sue Neill-Fraser case. One person said to me in a whisper “The police did it, and it concerns drugs.” I had no ability to follow up on that, and do not know the whisperer’s name.

Today I looked up the Neill-Fraser case and was surprised to see that the name of Tassie’s current attorney-general is Matthew Groom (son of Ray Groom). You may recall that Ray Groom stepped down as premier (inexplicably) just before the Port Arthur massacre, and accepted several portfolios, including attorney general.

But it is not the name of Groom that startled me.

The Beautiful Vanessa Goodwin

I wondered what happened to our friend Vanessa Goodwin. She, as attorney general in 2015, helped me and Cherri Bonney with information about the aborted Coronial investigation of Port Arthur.

You will be shocked to hear that she has terminal brain cancer. If you want to read about her interesting career, please go here for a 2015 article.

It seems she was very “into” Risdon Prison and went there for Kids’ Days and cared about the high rate of intergenerational criminal convictions. She says when she was a student in 1986 she attended the court case of a mass murderer which led to her pursuing a PhD in criminology at Cambridge University.

I am so sad for Tasmania that her days are numbered. If you are reading this, Ms Goodwin: Goodonya, and thank you.

The Neils Fraser Case

GumshoeNews has never tried to report the Neill-Fraser case. We do not have a man-on-the-spot on the Island State, and it’s all we can do to keep an eye on the fate of Martin Bryant. However, Gumshoe did mention that Tasmania had passed a law allowing a convict to get his case re-opened based on Fresh and Compelling Evidence. That legislation was a copy-cat of a South Australian law, for which two persons have successfully got their cases turned around.

Sue Neill-Fraser is in prison, convicted of murdering her husband Bob Chappell on their yacht in Sandy Bay in 2009. She says she did not do it and others have agreed that she is not strong enough to lift a man’s body over the side of a boat.  At the moment, someone is coming in with a confession (I think) of a person who was on the yacht and says Bob Chappell was not there that night.

I do not want to say more and possibly give the impression that I am knowledgeable about the case. I am ignorant of every aspect of it except the part that made me be interested for Martin Bryant’ sake. That is, the ability to reopen a case based on fresh and compelling evidence.

Oddly, I have just read that Sue Neill-Fraser will have a hearing on October 30, 2017. Could one of our readers hop along and attend it? (No point depending on what MSM reports “from the front” — as I learned at the Lindt Café inquest.)

The judge is Michal Brett. He has been asked to postpone it until the perversion-of-the-course of-justice matter settles down.  Apparently a woman was offered $93,000 to give false testimony in the case.

Three Developments?

I reckon there are three new developments in the Port Arthur case. One is the terrible news that Vanessa Goodwin had to leave her post as attorney general due to brain cancer. I consider this a negative development in Bryant’s file as she was one official who was at least willing to talk.

(Goodwin is the only person who replied to me of the 16 to whom I sent a letter asking for “protection for the prisoner.”)

By the way, I once asked publically for people to join up to a “Committee To Protect Martin Bryant.”  I immediately received “eager offers” from persons whom I took to be strictly CIA. That disgusted me and I dropped the idea.

As a substitute, Dee McLachlan, Mal Hughes, and myself sent a jointly-signed letter to Governor Professor Kate Warner seeking a royal pardon for MB. No reply received. Isn’t that disgraceful?

The second “development in the Port Arthur case” is the fact that Sue Neill-Fraser’s “fresh-and-compelling-new- evidence” appeal is going to happen, maybe on October 30. It will be Tasmania’s first go. After that, maybe a Tassie barrister would have the decency to file a similar request in court for Bryant.

And the third? This is so new I only heard about it today when reading Vanessa’s biography. She said the attorney general has the prerogative to write a “Petition of Mercy” to send a case back to the court. I did not know that.  Being in America now, I call on Gumshoers to look into that. S’il vous plait.

Further, I call on all Aussies to show an interest in a massacre of 35 human beings that was likely carried out by covert agencies intertwined with police, and which has been hushed up with due diligence by the legals, the pollies, and the academics for a fifth of a century.

Come on, this is sickening. We CAN do better.

–Mary W Maxwell is co-author with Dee McLachlan of “Port Arthur: Enough Is Enough,” a free download at www.MaxwellForSenate.com.



  1. I may be wrong, but I don’t think appealing to the son of Ray Groom to open a case on behalf of Martin Bryant would bring any result, for an obvious reason. Conflict of interest.

    • I don’t know, Mal. Things happen. There was Saul, riding along minding his own business, on the way to Damascus and then it was like Boom boom.

      (Not to be confused with Boom boom boom boom.)

      Far be it from me to know how Groom Jr wold handle the retrial.
      Anyway I think the Mercury said he was ACTING atty gen.

      The race is not always to the swift, as we five little boys found out in Alabama. Time and chance happeneth to them all.

  2. Wouldn’t “back to the court” mean a convict-initiated re-trial of a not-guilty plea ?

    But attention should certainly be repeatedly drawn to the case, particularly Bryant’s purported voluntary silence/isolation

    • By the way, has anyone else noticed that the Wikipedia articles on the Ruby Ridge & Waco sieges are a lot less biased than what’s been submitted re Port Arthur?

      Has anyone tried to submit anything along the lines of “The Police response to the incident and the ensuing investigation have both been widely criticised. The main issues cited are…………. “ ?