A postman who was wrongfully convicted of bludgeoning an elderly grandmother to death walked out of a television interview when asked about a previous assault conviction.
Steven Fennell, 60, was sentenced to life in jail for the 2012 murder of Liselotte Watson, 85, inside her Macleay Island house, off the coast of Brisbane.
Fennell spent almost seven years behind bars before the High Court acquitted him of murder in September.
During a tell-all interview with Seven’s Sunday Night, Fennell stormed off when asked about a previous conviction for assaulting his ex-girlfriend.
In 1995, Fennell was sentenced to one year and four months behind bars for an attack on his then girlfriend Bernadette Woodward.
Fennell tied her up with ropes during sex before beating her up, leaving the then 22-year-old with two haemorrhaged eyes and a bruised chest.
When the incident was brought up during Sunday night’s interview, tensions reached boiling point.
‘No I don’t wish to speak about that at all. I don’t wish to answer one question [about the Bernadette Woodward case], not one question,’ he said before walking out on the interview with Matt Doran.
‘You didn’t tell me we were going down this road,’ Fennell said to a producer.
‘If you find the interview so boring you’ve got to bring that up.
‘[I won’t say anything] about that particular case. It has no relevance to anything, it’s a grubby piece of media and I won’t participate in it.’
During Mr Fennell’s 2013 court case into the death of Mrs Watson, the jury was told he had gone to the Macleay Island police station and requested someone check on his elderly friend on November 13, 2012.
He told officers he was worried about an ’86-year-old lady who he had a lot to do with’, and a note he had left in her letter box about 6am that day – explaining he would miss their normal coffee meeting as he was going to the mainland – was still there in the afternoon, and her door was locked.
Officers found her dead on the floor of her bedroom with a doona partially wrapped around her.
A pathologist found she had been struck in the back of the head between four and six times with a hammer-like object.
Liselotte Watson, an 85-year-old widower, was bludgeoned to death in her home in 2012
Just days earlier, a toiletries bag filled with banking documents and weighed down by a rock was found floating in the water at nearby Thompson Point.
The discovery was made on November 10 and reported on November 15.
Police were convinced the murder was a premeditated attack carried out by someone the retired nurse knew.
Despite no forensic evidence being left at the crime scene, police quickly zeroed in on Fennell.
Fennell, a junk mail delivery driver, had struck up a close friendship with Mrs Watson about a year before her death.
The father-of-one would often drop in and have a cup of tea with the elderly grandmother, and also help with grocery shopping and picking up her prescriptions.
Before long, Mrs Watson started to trust Fennell with her money.
‘I just felt [doing her banking for her] was the right thing to do, simply helping out an elderly lady who couldn’t get to the bank,’ he told Sunday Night before he stormed out of the interview.
While looking for a motive for the murder, investigators discovered there had been abnormally large withdrawals from Mrs Watson’s bank account.
In some cases the withdrawal slips had been altered, even changing $3,000 to $8,000.
Steven Fennell, 60, who was aquitted of the 2012 murder of Liselotte Watson, stormed off mid-interview when asked about a previous assault conviction from 1995
When asked if he made the changes between the amounts, Fennell responded with: ‘I can’t say, I can’t say because I’ve already given evidence at the Crime and Misconduct Commission.’
Fennell said he never stole a single dollar from Mrs Watson.
But investigators focused on Fennell as a prime suspect, as he’d already been convicted of fraud in four states dating back nearly four decades.
In one case from when Fennell was 27, he bragged to a newspaper about ripping someone off nearly $250,000.
But he denied this ever happened, and said he made up how much he stole from people.
‘I guess it does [make me an expert liar],’ he said.
But the interview soon turned sour when reporter Matt Doran asked Fennell about an internet search he looked at on the morning of Mrs Watson’s murder.
‘In the morning there is a record of you being logged in on your computer and at some stage approaching 8am you access a website which says “weird places people hide money in their homes”,’ Doran said. ‘A pop-up materialised and you accessed it.’
But Fennell denied this, and claimed he was on the Yahoo homepage at the time and a bait advertising link called ‘do you want a cheaper home loan?’ popped up.
‘I pressed the button and was redirected to ”weird places people hide their money”. How long was I on the website for? If you’ve read the trial and you’ve read the expert’s opinion [I was on there for] less than one second; on and off,’ he said.
‘I’m saying that’s where it linked to. It was the evidence that was presented by the police expert and again a waste of the jury’s time and misrepresented as you’ve done here which is starting to p*** me off.’
Fennell said he went to Mrs Roberts’ house on the morning of her death to return a biscuit tin, but he doesn’t remember exactly when or even if he returned later in the day.
Fennell blames this on a brain condition that affects his short term memory.
But Mrs Watson’s neighbour Loretta McKie claims she saw Fennell arriving at her home at 2pm on the afternoon police believe she was killed.
Fennell was arrested in March 2013 and found guilty by a jury of murder about three years later
Ms McKie said after hearing a bike coming down the street, she looked out her bathroom window and saw Fennell enter Mrs Watson’s house.
‘About 20 minutes later I heard him start the bike up and go again,’ she said.
But Fennell said he doesn’t remember going to Mrs Watson’s house at around 2pm that day.
‘I would have been looking for Mrs Watson because I wouldn’t have been able to raise her because by that time I’ve already taken the biscuit tin back earlier in the morning,’ he said.
‘I’m not arguing I was never there, I’m not debating I was never there. But for that period of time; no.’
In September, a High Court quashed Fennell’s conviction after finding the prosecution’s case on his motive was ‘extremely weak’ and that his window of opportunity to commit the murder was ‘very small’.
Fennell is now planning to sue the state of Queensland for around $7million.
Steven Fennell (pictured centre with his wife Helen and son Adam) was acquitted of murder in September after spending nearly seven years behind bars
WHAT HAPPENED TO LISOLETTE WATSON:
November 10, 2012: A toiletries bag with banking material belonging to Mrs Watson is found floating in water at Thompson Point
November 12, 2012 – 9am: Liselotte Watson was last seen alive
November 13, 2012 – 6am: Steven Fennell leaves a note in Mrs Watson’s mailbox to let her know he won’t be around for coffee that morning
November 13, 2012 – 3.30pm: Mr Fennell calls police and asks them to conduct a welfare check after noticing his note was still in Mrs Watson’s mailbox
November 13, 2012 – 4:30pm: Mrs Watson is found dead in her home at Macleay Island
November 15, 2012: A local resident reports finding the toiletries bag to police, who find a hammer in the same location later that day
March 14, 2013: Mr Fennell is charged with murder and taken into custody
March 21, 2016: Mr Fennell is found guilty by a jury and given a life sentence for the murder of Liselotte Watson
March 29, 2016: Mr Fennell launches an appeal
July 21, 2017: The appeal is dismissed
April 3, 2019: Mr Fennell appeals to the High Court of Australia
September 11, 2019: Mr Fennell’s appeal is granted and he is acquitted of murder and immediately released from prison