Scott Watson denied parole again as the case against him falls apart



I feel for Scott Watson. He’s served 18 years in jail for two murders he says he didn’t commit. Now he can’t get parole unless he does prison courses that require him to admit guilt, which in good conscience he can’t do. Oddly, if Watson had actually done the crime, and confessed to it, he would be better off today. He’d be out of jail after serving the minimum non-parole period.

The evidence now shows that Watson did not kill Olivia Hope and Ben Smart in the Marlborough Sounds on or after New Year’s Day, 1998. Since the trial, the Crown case against Watson has collapsed on all essential points, as demonstrated in books by Mike Kalaugher (The Marlborough Mystery) and Keith Hunter (Trial by Trickery),  articles by Mike White, and two major TV documentaries, Murder on the Blade? and another, Doubt: the Scott Watson Case, on TVNZ two months ago.

Putting together the evidence from all the key witnesses, it’s clear that Hope and Smart hopped on to a ketch quite different from Watson’s small sloop, and that the two were accompanied by a man with unkempt long hair, not Watson, who had tidy, very short hair. Even Olivia’s father, Gerald Hope, has been critical of two key pieces of evidence. The two Olivia-type hairs on Watson’s blanket could easily be a result of accidental contamination during the scientific examination. The police “stuffed it up” admitted Hope in a conversation with Scott Watson last month which was recorded by Mike White for North and South. During the trial Hope had given evidence about Olivia’s fingernails, by doing so assisting the Crown case that Olivia had been trapped in Watson’s boat, and had scratched the underside of a forward hatch in a desperate effort to escape. It is now clear from the placement of the scratches and other evidence that no-one was locked inside. Hope now says, on that point, that “we were played [by the police] like a violin. I accept that.” [I should note that Hope still questions some elements of Watson’s version of events, but these are not on what I would consider critical points.]

Last week (on 6 December) the Parole Board refused Watson parole, endorsing a psychologist who “assessed Mr Watson’s risk of violent recidivism as very high”. Yet when you look through the Board’s report (not yet on the internet), and an earlier one dated 3 July 2015, there is no evidence that he is a high risk, unless you accept that he killed Olivia Hope and Ben Smart nearly 19 years ago. Apart from the alleged murders, Watson had only one previous conviction for violence, for a punch-up outside a pub when he was 16. He also had an altercation in prison in February 2007, nearly 10 years ago. That’s his total record of violence.

The prison guards say good and bad things about Watson. In the 2015 Parole Board report he is described as “compliant and working well inside the wire”. In the latest Parole Board report they say he can be “happy go lucky”, “very helpful” and “is not a threat to us in the unit [or] to other prisoners”.

The same guard said that on other occasions Watson can be manipulative, withdrawn or untrusting. However, if such characteristics were reason enough for refusing parole, many prisoners would never get out of jail. And Watson has a very good reason for being “untrusting” – of the police, the justice system and the Parole Board.

At one point the Parole Board admits that it is “not necessary that the offender admit guilt in order to [be a candidate for parole]”. But if you read the report closely you’ll reach the conclusion that he is still being punished for not owning up to a crime he didn’t commit. And that is very sad.

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[There is an active “Free Scott Watson” campaign, which held rallies across New Zealand last Saturday. It also has a petition.]


  1. The government would’ve decided that the Teina Pora palaver was too much bother so they just wouldn’t have been interested in going through all that again in a hurry. They would thought “well, we stuffed the Teina Pora case up. What are the chances we’ve done it here as well? Nah, Lundy did it, so Watson probably did, too.”

    That’s about the level of intelligence these idiots bring to matters like this.

  2. Total rubbish Keith Locke. You should have a look at Ian Wishart’s research on the case and also the fact that the parole board aren’t just looking at some vague questioning of facts based on some very dodgy effoerts in the case of your quoted ‘researchers’. In a “post truth” era I guess everyone is innocent and with the ability to publish or find supporting evidence to suit you position this is what we will get. The police are wrong, the juries are wrong, the evidence is wrong, the parole board is wrong and he is really just a bloody nice guy despite killing a couple of people.

  3. Wishart has published the most credible book one subject to date. I suggest anyone with a genuine in the case borrow a copy from the library and have a read.

    • Wishart’s two books on the Hope/Smart case are both jokes, as are his books denying human caused climate change, his book(s) denying evolution and promoting creationism, and most of the other topics he turns his attention to, including his smear job on Helen Clark’s personal life.

      Wishart has made a career of cherry picking information to suit a priori conclusions. This is not credible methodology. When not blatantly cherry picking he spins interpretation so much it approaches deliberate lying.

      Best not to be one of the terminally bewildered who lend him credibility.

    • Like many of us Ian, I never found that photo particularly compelling evidence.

      What I would like to know is how one man is supposed to have murdered two people, on a small boat berthed just 4 feet away from other boats with people on board, so several potential witnesses – yet nobody heard anything. No struggle, no screaming or arguing. Not one, but two apparently silent murders. It isn’t plausible. Oh, and there’s no apparent motive – so there’s that.

      • Your question reflects the spin you have been subjected to. Where on earth, outside the Watson spin machine, has anyone seriously suggested the couple were killed while Blade was moored?

        • you grasping at straws Ian , think everyone following this story from the begining realizes the young couple left aboard the ketch

        • The crown seriously suggested it, Ian, in their case against Mr. Watson – eyeroll-. If not, much of their theory and witnesses evidence put to the jury of the events that night, would be irrelevant.

          The point is the crown case, that resulted in a conviction, is demonstrably floored. Therefore the conviction is unsafe and there needs to be at the very least new trial. It’s ironic you seem opposed to that, yet according to your book you agree that the crown have it wrong. It’s not O.K to deny Mr. Watson his rights because some opinions are that the outcome of a new trial might be the same. That isn’t how the justice system is supposed to work, by that logic, why bother with trials at all?

          You seem to be suggesting Ben and Olivia were attacked onshore, maybe they were, we don’t know. To my mind then realistically anyone in or around the sounds could have been the culprit. I suggest awareness of that truth is why the prosecutor chose not to entertain that theory in court.

          Pretty much the worse thing you can do to a person, other than kill someone, is deprive them of their freedom. People are outraged that with so many discrepancies in the crown case the only conclusion is there has been a miscarriage of justice and that must be rectified.

            • Why would the two-trip theory, and the time Scott returned to his boat be relevant to the crown’s case if that wasn’t the suggestion Ian? You may have the file, an arguably biased one, but you were not at the Marlborough Sounds or were you on the Jury.

              • If you are suggesting Ben and Olivia were still on Scott’s boat, alive, New Year’s Day morning, they would have to have been seen or heard.

                • Would have been seen and heard by whom? Watson left in darkness. Untied and kicked his boat off without starting his engine. Ben and Olivia drunk and fast asleep. Boat sails out into inlet, well out of earshot where he has “privacy” to do what he likes. That’s the gist of the court evidence and judge’s closing address. I’ve read the file. Unlike you, Christie or Locke.

                  • Yes we know you have “The file” Ian. If all you can produce is “Elementary”, (high on opinion and supposition, light on actual fact), based on that file, I wouldn’t go waving it around as the holy grail of smoking guns, if you enjoy having any credibility. You also are choosing to ignore the multitude of witnesses who saw a couple matching Ben and Olivia’s description on the back of a ketch, the very same ketch that the water taxi driver said he dropped the couple off to on New Year’s day morning. Hmmm.

              • Arguably biased file? Yeah, it was the one used by Watson’s lawyers for the trial and appeal. It includes everything the jury heard and magnitudes more that they didn’t.

                • No need to repeat yourself Ian. It’s a police file is it not? Course Scott’s lawyers used it, it’s called disclosure so they know what they’re defending. I think now you’re just being facetious.

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