Scott Watson – Miscarriage of justice or righteous sentence?


Scott Watson appeal: Prosecution says Watson only person with motive to kill Ben Smart, Olivia Hope

Hundreds of pieces of evidence point to Scott Watson as the murderer of Ben Smart and Olivia Hope, the Court of Appeal has been told.

The Scott Watson case never sat well with me.

The number of eye witnesses that saw a two masted Ketch.

How the hairs magically appeared in a bag with a hole in it and how that could have been innocently transferred rather than point to murder.

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The manner in which the NZ Police manipulated evidence, manipulated witnesses and ignored any evidence that didn’t connect Scott Watson to the disappearance of Ben Smart and Olivia Hope was never explained by the subservient mainstream media at the time so much of this will be new to most NZers.

The use of prison narks used to nail Scott Watson should disgust most NZers, but it probably won’t.

The only reason the NZ police get away with what they do is because the sleepy hobbits of muddle Nu Zilind let them.

Kiwis don’t hate crime as much as they love punishing criminals so the idea that an innocent person has been locked up won’t annoy NZers as much as having to let a person out of jail in the first place.

This is the tiny people we are.

Put aside the enormous questions about the circumstantial evidence, there is a deeper problem with the Scott Watson case that TDB pointed out 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.

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 had to resign after his controversial new interrogation programme has produced false confessions???


The disappearance and probable murder of Ben Smart and Olivia Hope is a unique Kiwi crime. Two fresh faced teens with the World at their feet disappearing suddenly and the firestorm case afterwards is bad enough, that we may have locked up the wrong person would be insult to obscenity.



  1. ” The death of Guy Wallace, the water taxi driver who was one of the last people to see Ben Smart and Olivia Hope alive and a key witness in the murder trial of Scott Watson, was self-inflicted, says a coroner. ‘

    Guy Wallace maintained Ben and Olivia disembarked onto a two masted ketch. Scot Watson’s had a single masted sloop. Also the owner was much more scruffy than Scott. There is no doubt in my mind Scott was fitted up. He should be released and compensated if that is possible.

  2. The more attractive the victims plus with good photos, the more the media demands an arrest, and the more Police will make up evidence to get a conviction.

    Also, Christmas and NYE is a very slow news time for the journalists, so they latch on like they wouldn’t otherwise. Bad luck Scott Watson!

    I have never been more ashamed of our Court system than this week following the appeal. The CPS needs a huge clean-out as well.

  3. “The only reason the NZ police get away with what they do is because the sleepy hobbits of muddle Nu Zilind let them.”

    The courts allow it. The public has zero influence over the courts.

  4. I n the main I believe our police do a great job but going back to Arthur Thomas has any police been jailed for giving blatant false evidence lead to a wrongful conviction

  5. I always thought he was stitched up.
    Wallace would have had to have had a commercial skippers ticket to operate the water taxi. Therefore he’s been around boats a fair while. To a boatee a ketch (two masts) versus a sloop (one mast) is as different as a two or one story house is to a land lubber. And, scratches on the inside of a hatch, never came across a hatch that you couldn’t open from the inside.

  6. Read the Wikipedia account.It clearly shows the prosecution relied heavily on the testimony of two jail house snitches .One was desperate to get parole as he was being threatened by a gang member.He later recanted …to lawyers and a journalist, , the other was found to have not been in a position to have developed any kind of relationship with Watson, and on getting out of prison was given a cell phone and the use of a car by police.Wallace and the bar manager at Furneaux both said they were misled by the police over the photo id.
    I have been convinced all along that Watson was targeted as someone they could fit up, very early in the piece.The hairs were the least convincing evidence and even the fact that there is zero evidence of murder, no bodies, we are just assuming that murder has taken place.
    A wrongful conviction , but the police and judiciary system will defend their own and have all the power

  7. I too have followed this case.

    Ben Smart was a big strong fit 21 year old.

    Scott Watson ..5′ 9 “…strong, but not big.

    When Olivia Hope’s father visited Watson’s boat ‘Blade,’ he realised how small it was, and commented something to the effect that his daughter would not have got onto such a small boat to sleep.

    What has never been explained is how Watson supposedly overpowered both Ben Smart and Olivia Hope.That would have a very difficult thing to do especially as he was rafted up along side 2 other
    There would have been a hell off a fight.
    Police reports say that Watson was drunk throughout the evening which would make it even more difficult to carry out a double murder.
    How did a drunk Watson subdue 2 fit young people and yet make no noise that would wake up occupants on surrounding boats?

    Did he just conveniently happen to have gas on hand, or chloroform
    them both across the nose and mouth without them fighting….highly
    If so where did he obtain such products.
    Did he stab them?…no blood was found and the resultant screaming
    would have been loud and piercing.
    Did he strangle them?..What both together once?..not possible.
    Did he shoot them?.. no shots were heard and no blood was found.

    All these scenarios are highly unlikely given there is no evidence to support any of them.

    The hairs on the blanket…
    Completely missed on the 1st sweep and thorough examination of the blanket despite one being 250 mm long( 10”) and another 180mm long. The blanket was not that big.
    How would you miss 2 hairs that long when going over it with a magnifying glass? Even the naked eye would pick that up… but
    magically ,2 months later, they found
    One hair was supposedly Olivia’s but the other had a slightly different dna and could only be determined as being maternal.That is ,it could have been Olivia’s sister’s, who was also at the New Years Eve party that
    If those hairs were on that blanket ,how did Olivia’s sisters hair get there?
    The most liklely answer is through transference by brushing up along side them at a packed party.
    The hairs were found on the blanket after Olivia’s hair brush was provided by the Hope family and taken to the laboratory for inspection.The same room where the blanket was being

    The most likely scenario…
    Guy Wallace was correct when he said he dropped Ben & Olivia off at a double masted ketch. A much bigger yacht that looked more luxurious and looked like it would be big enough to have accommodation
    where a couple could bunk down for the night. That would have been a much more attractive proposition for the young couple.

    Guy Wallace knew his boats.Much more than the Police did.
    His very 1st immediate reaction, when shown a photo of Watson as the person who supposedly left with Ben & Olivia was, “no way was it
    The guy had longer hair and different features..eyes etc.

    The double masted ketch was probably owned by opportunistic drug runners who do frequent thses areas and just happened to be hanging around that party that fateful night.
    Who knows what happened after
    Ben & Olivia boarded and went below deck… It doesn’t bear thinking about..but murdering them while they slept would be a far more likely scenario than all the other options presented to date.

    • Nope sorry, I just don’t see it.
      You are positing the existence of a mysterious drug running ketch that appears out of nowhere, presumably delivers some contraband to someone, kills two people and then just disappears without a trace. I’m not saying that a drug running yacht, maybe sailing from Chile could reach New Zealand, it would be difficult but not impossible. What I don’t believe is possible is that it could do so without being seen and remain unknown and unidentified for 20 years.

      • Click onto Geoffery Lye’s youtube link further down the postings here and watch the documentary.

        Make no mistake..there’s plenty of dodgy , opportunistic, sleazy, evil types out there everywhere.

        They are always around …
        in all walks of life.

  8. Read Ian Wishart’s book elementary which he wrote after examining the police file. I was always convinced he was innocent until i read that book. He matched the description of the mystery man, guy wallace drew a single mastered sloop initially in his police interview, Scott Watson was seen painting his boat enroute to Picton by multiple key witnesses shortly after new years (contradicting his alibi which was a cover up). Obviously you would need to read all 300 odd pages to get full details but it is worth a read

    • Examining the police file is not a reliable way to find the truth in most countries and NZ is no different. I know people who were at the location on the night in question who witnessed the 2 masted ketch and tried to tell the police what they observed but were constantly rejected by the police because their evidence did not suit the police.
      There is an unspoken allegation that Watson is a naugty boy however that is not a valid reason to lock someone up for life and this case demonstrates the foolishness of relying on the “not doing anything wrong you have nothing to fear” logic that the right use to justify increased police powers.
      I don’t want to live in a society where it is considered acceptable to lock people up based on a corrupt justice system so the sooner Scott gets justice and is released and compensated the better. Take it from the police and public prosecutor budget as they are the ones at fault.

    • Typical of Wishart’s writings, his book was full of hyperbole, ill thought through reckons, and nonsensical conclusions.
      You could drive a truck through some of the statements that he claimed to be irrefutable facts.

      Mike Kalaugher’s book published in 2001 made a lot more sense.

      • Worse, Wishart makes an artform of cherry-picking, presenting quotes out of context and in the distortion of both fact and his sources. He’s quite reprehensible.
        Saddest is the number of readers who are challenged in critical-thinking skills who are taken in by him.

  9. It has been repeatedly proven that the NZ judicial appeals system doesn’t know the meaning of beyond reasonable doubt.

  10. The fact that there is so much doubt around this most likely means the verdict is not beyond reasonable doubt, and he should be released.

  11. I too read the Wishart book. If Watson didn’t kill the pair then, who did? Watson had a criminal record, he apparently had killed a porpoise and towed the body with his yacht. Even if he didn’t kill Olivia and Ben he should have been jailed for that!

  12. What we’re not seeing is the raft of circumstantial evidence the jury was not allowed to see because the judge ruled it inadmissible.

    He did it and he has a string of priors involving weird stuff.

    • Andrew – if the judge ruled some stuff was inadmissible which meant the jury was not allowed to see it, that would suggest no-one has seen it, other than the cops I suppose. So, how is it that you saw it and also, what was that circumstantial evidence? I agree with Greywarbler.

    • If it was circumstantial – err – probably why. I heard you were a reprobate Andrew – better fess up now.

  13. The Crown’s latest pleading is that it must have been Watson because no one else had the motive or means,

    How vacuous is that logic?

    • Very vacuous indeed…. I thought the same thing when i read that!

      Are the Crown saying that it was premeditated, or, opportunistic by Watson.

      They never stated what means Watson used to murder them, or what his motive was.

      Being a bit of a crass- mouthed scrapper 8 years earlier, when he was in his teens, does not equate to becoming a double murder on a whim.

      If that is the criteria, then approx. 20% of the male population of N.Z are potential murderers if the opportunity presents itself.

      No. This was carried out by truly evil people a lot more sinister than Watson. And it would have taken more than one person.

    • What was the motive for Ben? For Olivia? Has it been presented and examined properly?
      Was there targetting of others with the murders as punishment to some other person?

      I remember I picked up the author’s name of crazy crime books from Florida who was Carl Hiaasen from a remark made by some lawyer who I think was there nearby keeping a watching brief. It seems problematical with ketches and sloops and general confusion and few connecting jigsaw pieces.

      • “What was the motive for Ben? For Olivia?”

        Do you mean what was Watson’s motive? As far as I know it was that he was a loner, onetime petty thief, and as with probably many others there that night, he was out to score sexually. A prolonged pre-trial smear campaign of character assassination reinforced this and it was amplified by a couple of naive and compliant journalists in the media.

        The Crown’s argument this week included that they didn’t find (or look hard enough to find, of course not admitted by them) anybody else, and they can therefore also magically know the motives inside the minds of everybody else who attended the scene (including the mystery people they couldn’t find or never looked for).

        Unfortunately, these sorts of logical fallacies can be bought by juries and by judicial appeals processes that have incentive to uphold their fictional reputation to infallibility. They’ll run with any feeble excuse to uphold convictions as has been demonstrated in the Ellis case, Bain case, Haig case etc etc.

  14. The 2-masted ketch story is quite pursuasive and they do exist. Until this year there was one parked up at the Mana boat yard looking very similar to the various descriptions. Of course, no implication that it was the one, but the very existence of one in the Marlborough Sounds at the time can’t easily be discounted.

  15. Yes…that is an excellent well put together documentary..
    Shame on the Police…totally unprofessional.Watson was stitched up
    It’s Peter Ellice all over again..

    • Arthur Allen Tomas, David Dougherty, Taina Paora, David Bain – and these are off the top of my head – NZ Police have a long history of putting away the wrong man based on spurious evidence and hoodwinking a gullible jury

  16. The authorities could nowe approach the conviction and sentence of Watson and possible freeing, on the basis of ‘Will this man rbe likely to repeat the crimes’ and is he known for being criminally inclined? That would depend on the number of infractions in prison and the type.

    Also I question that prisoners who behave themselves should earn a right to a one or two day visit from a chosen person, just to keep them in a balanced and not despairing anf hate-filled frame of mind. Watson if he had this opportunity might be easier to understand and his likely future approach to be predicted. (Think Gaza.)
    Remembering – Voltaire — ‘It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.

    • ” Innocent till proven guilty. I have never seen any evidence that they are dead .Until there is a body all evidence is circumstantial and open to manipulation ”

      They are gone either dumped way out in the ocean or buried in the bush in one of the many islands in the sounds.

      Regardless they will never be found.

      Scott Watson will never be exonerated and be forced to carry what happened in the sounds and the forces against him forever.

      No reprieve.

  17. Tom Fitzgerald and Rob Pope are classic bent NZ cops like John Hughes, Bruce Hutton and various others less famous–all experts at stitch ups.

    Fitzgerald obviously used some of his techniques on Guy Wallace before his “phased engagement”–CIPEM, interrogation system became a recognised thing. Stuff reported it is now known as PEACE Plus for chrissakes.,to%20get%20information%20and%20confessions.

    Watson should be released with no further trial, he must be a tough guy to have not made the false confession the Parole Board seeks. Unless he does he will likely die in jail because NZ Police are vindictive and hold a grudge for life as the Crewe case shows.

  18. Olivia Hope’s father was a well known Blenheim businessman later the mayor. I always had my doubts about him obviously not the crime but maybe interfering in the process the “who do you know who I am “ scenario . Hence Watson who was no angel became the scapegoat very quickly.


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