Paul Henry’s Scott Watson Journalism is excellent – but it gets way worse


Paul Henry on the Ben Smart-Olivia Hope murder case: Scott Watson and my fears for justice – our collective shame

The conviction of Scott Watson is infested in doubt – I care about justice and fairness and this case is an affront to me. He should not be in jail one moment longer, writes broadcaster Paul Henry, who describes the case as ‘our collective shame’.

Isn’t it weird that a Right winger like Paul Henry is championing this miscarriage of justice? Once upon a time, the Left was focused on the State’s abuse of power over the individual, but we are too busy cancelling people for misusing pronouns these days.

Paul Henry has done the country a great service in laying out the case as to why he believes the Scott Watson case was a terrible miscarriage of justice, and he’s 100% right.

This case against Watson never made sense to me and the Jury ended up claiming 2 + 2 = 6 when the evidence doesn’t conclude that in any way shape or form.

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Put aside the enormous questions about the circumstantial evidence, there is a deeper problem with the Scott Watson case that TDB pointed out last year, and that is the concerning involvement of Detective Superintendent Tom Fitzgerald.

As The Daily Blog has been banging on for some time, Fitzgerald’s involvement in creating a controversial police interrogation tactic that generates false confessions is deeply problematic especially after he was caught  attempting to cover up his direct involvement in the failed Lois Tolley murder case.

He has suddenly resigned as that entire case has collapsed.

The concerning part about all of this, is that Detective Superintendent Tom Fitzgerald was also involved in the Scott Watson case at a crucial point of that case and makes a claim Watson utterly refutes…

Scott Watson allegedly uttered just two words when police arrived to arrest him: “About time.”

Detective Tom Fitzgerald told the double-murder trial yesterday that Watson made the comment when he came across him in the hallway of his brother’s house in Rangiora on June 15 last year.

Watson said “…. off” when asked to come to the Rangiora police station to talk about New Year’s Eve, 1997.

“We then arrested Mr Watson for the murders of Ben Smart and Olivia Hope and read him his rights,” said Detective Fitzgerald.

After talking to his lawyer by phone, Watson was taken to the police station to be questioned on video about several issues, including the cleaning of his boat, the missing squab covers, the scratches on the forward hatch and the hairs on a blanket.

Detective Fitzgerald said it became obvious that Watson had nothing to say. “He declined to answer.”

He was driven to Christchurch and formally charged with the murders.

Earlier in his evidence, Detective Fitzgerald said Watson had been reluctant to sign a statement on January 12 “because it made him look bad.”

He signed it after Detective Fitzgerald said he should if it was an accurate account.

Watson had said he was wearing a T-shirt and a grey jersey on New Year’s Eve. He returned to Blade about 2 am and was the only occupant of a water taxi driven by an older man in a cap.

He denied knowing Guy Wallace, the water taxi driver the Crown says dropped Watson at his boat with Olivia and Ben.

Watson had said he left Endeavour Inlet about 6.30 or 7 am on January 1 and arrived at Eerie Bay in Tory Channel about 10.30 am, Detective Fitzgerald said.

The Crown says Watson lied in his statements and several hours of his time are unaccounted for.

Detective Fitzgerald asked Watson whether he had ever met Olivia or Ben.

“He replied that he had never seen or spoken to either of them that night, but he would remember talking to Olivia.”

When asked by crown prosecutor Kieran Raftery why Watson would make that comment, Detective Fitzgerald said: “It was obviously a reference to her being an attractive woman.”

When Detective Fitzgerald asked Watson about his obnoxious behaviour towards women at Furneaux Lodge, he replied: “I was just trying to score. What’s wrong with that. It was New Year’s Eve.”

He also said, “You can take my … boat. There’s no blood on it.”

On April 7, 1998, Detective Fitzgerald visited Watson at the home of a family friend. He talked to him later at the Huntly police station.

He told Watson that he understood he was having sleeping problems.

“You are only going to get worse until you get things off your chest, mate,” the policeman said.

Watson replied: “No, I’m fine, mate.”

The friend he stayed with, whose name was suppressed, said Watson moved out of the house and into a sleepout after being told he was screaming in his sleep.

In explanation, Watson told him he often did that when he was tired.

…Scott Watson has always denied saying this.
We have a case where no clear evidence convicts a man of murder interviewed and arrested by a Detective who has suddenly resigned after his controversial new interrogation programme has produced false confessions!
Come on.
I appreciate Kiwis are authority gimps who love the Police, but even you most deluded of cop cheerleaders must privately be concerned that we are simply bullying and tricking people into false confessions.
This stinks to high heaven, and you all know it!

The Court of Appeal ruled that there were no substantial issues with the trial itself, so there is no grounds for an Appeal, but surely an investigation into Fitzgerald’s process now it’s been so exposed is required?

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  1. The issue boils down to community control over the police. Ordinary working people need to be electing and recalling the police chiefs at the local level.

    However, the permanent state bureaucracy, which has become a law unto itself (particularly the Five Eyes intelligence services), is built upon the underlying economy. Ultimately their orders originate from the large political donors: the oligarchs who own and control nearly all property.

  2. NZ Police, and particularly Detective culture, is if they “like” you for a certain offence or situation you become the prime suspect. Snitches, and others they may choose to talk to can become more important than actual untampered with evidence by the time confessions are obtained or Court sessions held.

    Anyone that did not grow up in Sunday school or is still in cop loving denial, knows how the cops operate. Honest, accountable, play by procedure cops are rare in my experience with them. Macho, violent, bullyboy behaviour is used on their own Police Members as well as us citizens to keep all cops in line for the IPCA and any public scrutiny.

    Some competent journalists have looked into the Scott Watson case and found many anomalies, including planted/clumsily transferred evidence–the two blond hairs–and his first Lawyer was a real dunderhead. Watson is not everyone’s idea of an ideal dinner guest, but, that is the exact point of getting justice for him. The judicial system and needs to work fairly for all without bent coppers having undue influence.

  3. The water taxi driver who dropped off Ben and Olivia at the yacht maintained that the boat was a two master, a ketch in fact. Whereas Watson’s boat was a single masted sloop. However the taxi driver was convinced by the police somehow he’d been wrong. That alone convinced me the conviction was unsafe.

    • Who was the cop who interviewed Guy Wallace in the week following their disappearance? I just read part of that interview transcript again today (in Mike Kalaugher’s book The Marlborough Mystery) and it is just disgusting. Hours of being told to tell the truth after having told them everything, threatened, suspected of covering for someone else, of being involved, told that nightmares would keep him from ever sleeping again and this is just a witness, not a suspect. Made me shudder. The cops involved all need to answer for their shoddy / completely corrupt methods.

    • I did some building work for a couple who had been around the Furneaux Lodge area at the time (it was 10-15 years ago I did the job so my memory is not perfect about the location) & they had seen the ketch but the police refused to take any evidence from them. The major problem is that the police get brownie points for convictions with no penalty for the times they convict the wrong person. The officer(s) in charge should lose a big chunk of their super if the government has to payout for a faulty conviction which might be one way to keep honest.

  4. The police largely constructed this case upon character assassination for which they enlisted a couple of notable and compliant media writers well prior Watson’s arrest and certainly ratcheted that aspect up pre-trial.
    The papers were full of innuendo as to his allegedly predatory behaviour toward others, notably women. It was so obviously set up at the time that I knew before trial the case was likely to be very dodgy.
    Kudos to Henry but Keith Hunter is the one who has really done the most to drive a stake into the case, he has also written an excellent analysis of the Crew murders. See Hunter Productions on the net.

  5. Fitzgerald is a liar. I was standing between him and Scott when he entered my house. Scott was pulling on his sweatshirt in the hallway when Fitzgerald barged past and pushed him into the bedroom, he said nothing.

    • As unlikely as it seems, I hope that Scott and your family get justice against Fitzgerald. I believe Scotts conviction will be overturned at some stage, but the perpetrators of the wasted years spent behind bars will probably never face consequences for their actions and lies. Kia Kaha.

  6. obvious fit up but where was paul henry at the time?..with the pack that’s where…he’s put his head up now as he perceives it as a way to snipe at the govt…where was he over peter ellis?
    it’s just sad that in the NZ mediascape an obviously railroaded man has to rely on paul henry.

    • Very good question, gagarin.
      He was, around that decade, a member of the ‘tough on crime’ National Party and stood as its candidate in Wairarapa, unsuccessfully.

    • Yup I thought exactly the same thing . The role the media played in convicting Watson has never been had enough investigation.

  7. My reckons are (in this space, going forward) that we should keep an eye on Tom Fitzgerald. We can expect that when he gets a bit bored, he’ll pop up somewhere in the public service pretending to be a sage with expertise and must have skills.
    It’ll be somewhere with an agency that has both policy and enforcement duties.
    My reckons are that he shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a government paid position, and I’m not even sure somewhere even in the private corporate world would be appropriate, unless there’s a couple of election cycles between his retirement and re-employment.
    There’s already been too many grasshopper, shoulder tap, nudge nudge wink wink perfie wonder boys in the public ‘service” employ.

  8. Most New Zealanders want to believe in the Police and that they don’t frame people – believing that reassures them that we have a functioning justice system that protects ‘ordinary people’.

    • If only that were remotely true Ada.
      There is too much evidence to the contrary and it will keep coming out.

  9. There was enough evidence to convict Watson on the ‘balance of probabilities’ but insufficient to ‘prove’ the case in a court of law…right up until that hair was found on a blanket. A hair that wasn’t found in the first examination but miraculously appeared in the second, subsequent to the detective sergeant visiting the homes of the victims…

    My guess, and it’s only a guess is that:

    a) Watson is as guilty as hell.
    b) He’s pissed off because he knows that hair was planted so in his sociopathic mind, he thinks he’s been cheated.

    • Olivia Hope’s father visited Watson’s yacht and said that it was much much smaller than he had imagined and there is no way his daughter or Ben Smart would have gone below to sleep in such tiny cramped quarters.

      Also, Ben was a big strong lad, and it would have taken a considerable physical effort and struggle , (resulting in some sort of evidence other than 2 hairs), for Scott Watson to overpower both Ben and Olivia and then make them disappear without trace.

      Or are the police saying that this was premeditated ie; Watson already had his systems in place – chlorophyll, stun gun, trip ropes, net gun, fog canon etc. handily placed and ready to go. Ready to pounce on the victim/s once he’d lured them back from the lodge.
      Nothing adds up. It’s farcical. And then there’s the rigged photo supposedly taken of Watson at the lodge produced as evidence.
      Now that’s desperation right there.

    • andrew if the cops can’t prove a case without plants they can’t prove a case end of…’ coppers nouse’ just gets the village weirdo hung.

  10. Watson may have been a rough bugger, a drifter, a racist misogynist with a petty criminal record as long as your arm and a chip on his shoulder just as big. All these things are true but that doesn’t mean he is a double murderer. It certainly was never proved as such. The cops simply chose the baddest bugger in a crowd of rich entitled white kids of the local landed gentry, made the crime fit their preferred suspect and bingo they had their man and nothing even 25 years later has changed their mind.
    They will fight to the last legal challenge to avoid the uncovering of their corruption, evidence tampering, witness manipulation and media spin.

  11. The question is; Why ? Why the determination to fabricate, when the twin masts were and still are so obviously in the picture ? While so much counter evidence remains, begging proper investigation ? Who benefits ? Who ‘got away’ ?
    It’s always risky fitting somebody up.

    • My thought is that both the police and the judiciary work on the belief that it is more important to present an image of competence to maintain a public impression of competence than to provide true justice. better to lock up someone for ever than for the public not to have confidence in the police finding who did a high profile murder , and for the judicial system to find them guilty than for the public to know that the police can’t really solve any crime that is not obvious to anyone else. The public has to have faith in our systems of chaos may reign so one scruffy individual’s life is expendable.
      If you look back through history where cases have a murder mystery about them nearly every one is open to question as to the person convicted. i strongly suspect that most of them have been miscarriages of justice.
      I also suspect that judges know this and often know that what a jury has been persuaded to believe is wrong.
      D J S

  12. Person back a bit bull he not the killer good sake read it all they fitted him up ,police have habit off doing this not first time,they have got away with it you know it.

  13. The belief that all cops are good and the overriding goal of the police and Crown Law is justice (vs convictions) allows innocent citizens to believe that so long as they don’t commit the crime, they will never be accused of the crime.
    If you are ever unfortunate enough to be on the other side of this ( false accusations, police non-disclosure etc) your world view will (sadly) change. As will your entire life.

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