No pardon for Scott Watson

Scott Watson, the man convicted of murdering Olivia Hope and Ben Smart won’t be getting a pardon. He will be continuing to stop in jail.

A Ministry of Justice review of the Scott Watson murder case has found none of the new evidence he put forward was fresh or credible enough for a pardon.

Following the ministry’s advice, Governor-General Lieutenant General Sir Jerry Mateparae declined Watson’s application for exercise of the royal prerogative of mercy.

Watson was convicted of murdering Ben Smart and Olivia Hope who were last seen boarding a yacht in Endeavour Inlet, in the Marlborough Sounds, in the early hours January 1, 1998.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years. 

Following unsuccessful appeals to the Court of Appeal and the Privy Council claiming his innocence, Watson applied to the Governor-General for the pardon.

His application for a pardon led to the Ministry of Justice appointing Kristy McDonald, QC, to review the evidence.

In her report, Ms McDonald said nearly all of the grounds of Mr Watson’s application were not “fresh”, they had either already been considered by the courts or were available to be relied on, had Watson’s trial counsel chosen to do so.


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  • Rubyred

    I’m of the view this guy is more innocent than Bain.

    • Sponge

      Then he is still in the right place.

    • Time For Accountability

      The Link Between Bain and Watson is via a the police DS Milton Weir who secured the scene at the Bain House and was found wanting as to his lens evidence.

      He also investigated Watson and is known for putting his feet up on a coffee table when he was present at an interview with Scott Watson’s father.

      Wir is known around Dunedin with disdain for brushing a kitten off him onto a BBQ at a party.

      He was in charge of licensing girls of a certain profession, including where Laniet Bain worked which was the establishment media unsuccessfully tried to link the Di in charge of the Bain case Robinson to as a silent partner.

      PS. Did anyone check the wells Watson is alleged to have dug at a property where he cleaned the boat? The wells were allegedly dug before the incident.

      • niggly
      • Fuck off with your conspiracies…Watson did it, so did Bain, get over it

        • LesleyNZ

          Agree but without the F word………

        • Time For Accountability

          I agree – my point was bad cops leave a trail that does not help at all keep bad buggers inside.

        • redeye

          If it is so cut and dry why not use a real independent to review the case?

        • Mr_Blobby

          Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. But absolute guilt is beyond reasonable doubt. How do you get to beyond reasonable doubt, when you have conflicting evidence.

        • Ned Kelly

          Nice choice of words whalesoil. The vehemance of your comment must mean you KNOW this to be factual in both cases surely. Even the decision makers and others involved in this case cant agree. For a jumped up social commentator, your comments are rather lame and lack any investigative ability that I can see.

    • pukakidon

      Horseshit clown

      • Rubyred

        Your opinion just like I have mine, without the insult.

        • pukakidon

          Difference is, is that yours is not based on fact. It is based on your weak pitiful opinion and conspiracy theories.

  • redeye

    The appointment of Kristy McDonald as some sort of independent is the biggest joke in this story.

  • tarkwin

    I don’t believe he did this crime. (was a crime ever committed?) Even Olivia’s parents don’t believe he did it. A lot of people – myself included believe he had plenty to do with the disappearance of Nancy Frey on Great Barrier a few years earlier. Maybe karma?

    • redeye

      “Inspector Dennis Woods says Watson was in Whangarei when Nancy Frey
      went missing, but the yachtie is likely to have stopped at the nearby
      island in the following days. Inspector Woods says there will be no
      further attempts to link Watson to Nancy Frey’s disappearance.”

      • tarkwin

        There is no real evidence he did anything. Scot Watson was in the area, he was stealing things and generally bludging his way around the North. There is plenty of doubt about when he was at Great Barrier.

    • pukakidon

      Liar that is not what Olivia’s parents said at all.

      • tarkwin

        Gerald Hope has always doubted the evidence. Possibly not quite the same thing.

      • Random66

        Olivia’s father has said a number of times that he has yet to be convinced of Watson’s guilt – even yesterday.

        • pukakidon

          Hope has said that he wants to meet with Watson in order that Watson can try to convince him he is not guilty.

  • johnbronkhorst

    I knew someone on the jury (an ex customer). He still can’t explain, how Watson can be seen from the ferry and in the sounds working on his boat at almost the same time?

  • steve and monique

    Did anyone watch 3 News? Regretfully, I decided to and not only did the announcer – Hillary Barry, call the victims “Ben Hope and Olivia Smart”, so too did the so called reporter – Tover (?) O’Brien, shameful! If you can’t get the basics right and respect the families, don’t bother reporting!

  • Bunswalla

    I admit to being conflicted about this one. I’ve read all the books on it and can’t make my mind up – there are far too many things that don’t seem right about it. I’m glad I wasn’t on the jury, I probably lean towards about 65% not guilty and 35% guilty, even though I know it’s a binary equation.

    David Bain? 100% guilty in my book.

    • LinkinHawk

      So what were the main pieces of evidence that convicted him, and what was the jist of his defense?

      • redeye
      • Kimbo

        IMHO the crucial piece of evidence (“the smoking gun”) that convicted Watson was Olivia Hope’s hairs (three of them, I think) that was found on a blanket on Watson’s boat.

        His defence was police corruption (planted evidence as per Arthur Allan Thomas) or police incompetence (the bag in which the hairs were stored allegedly had a hole in them.

        I’m not sure if the defence argued the possibilty that accidental transfer of the hair had happened directly or indirectly from Olivia Hope to Scott Watson that New Years Eve at Furneaux Lodge. Even if they did, the jury probably weighed the three possibilities (police corrution, incompetence, and accidental transfer), and decided, beyond reasonable dount, and buttressed on the basis of the “anti-social” demeanour of Watson that evening, and “common sense” that someone had killed Hope and Smart, and decided the matter was proved beyond reasonable doubt.

        I’m more sure that David Bain did it than Scott Watson (although it was a different case, and there is no “one” piece of evidence that convicted Bain, as with Watson). Nevertheless, my “common sense” tells me, despite talk of sloops and ketches, and Guy Wallace changing his testimony and alleging the police leaned on him, that the hair in Watson’s boat is the reason for Collins’ justifiable decision to uphold the jury’s decision.

        Peter Ellis, however, is a very different matter…

        • jac


          “IMHO the crucial piece of evidence (“the smoking gun”) that convicted Watson was Olivia Hope’s hairs (three of them, I think) that was found on a blanket on Watson’s boat.”
          The blonde hairs were never proven in Court to be from Olivier Hope and were “found” on the “Tiger” blanket AFTER the police had taken hairs from a brush in Olivier’s bedroom.
          DNA “evidence” in the hands of bent cops is more dangerous than planted rifle cartridges.

          • Kimbo

            You may not have considered the hairs were “proven” to be from Olivia Hope.

            Nevertheless, as the jury found Watson guilty, and in doing so rejected his lawyer’s argument of bent and/or incompetent coppers, then we can safely conclude it was “proven” in the minds of the one group of people who counted – the jury.

            Everyone else is just giving their opinion.

            Good on Collins for knowing it is her duty to uphold the decision of the jury when there is no new evidence on offer, especially any which overturns the “smoking gun”.

          • Rubyred

            And interestingly the number of hairs taken from the brush were never counted.

      • Anomymouse Coward

        There are two troubling peices of evidence;

        The insistence of the water taxi operator that he dropped off the victims at a ketch, and

        The evidence of the occupant of the boat Watson boat was moored alongside that he heard the footsteps of a single person cross the deck of his boat to Watsons boat in the early hours of the morning.

    • Rex Widerstrom

      Hold on… you’re commenting on a blog and you don’t have an opinion that is absolute to the extent you’ll foam at the mouth and insult those who’ve reached the opposite conclusion, even though you have nothing more on which to base your conclusion than do they?!

      Please read the manual before attempting blog commenting in future :-P

      [FWIW I agree with you… it’s impossible to be certain but there are enough serious questions surrounding police behaviour for Watson to be given the benefit of those doubts. Though I haven’t read the complete trial transcript, so I could be wrong].

  • jac

    Kristy McDonald, there’s someone who should be shot with a ball of her own dung!

  • fozzie2

    “Following the ministry’s advice, Governor-General Lieutenant General Sir
    Jerry Mateparae declined Watson’s application for exercise of the royal
    prerogative of mercy.”

    Judge Judy to the fore again – it was on her recommendation that application was dismissed – what is it with this woman – who in the police/ judiciary is she protecting ???

    • It is the ministers job, if it was another minister like Simon Power, who sat on this for years it might still be unresolved…

  • island time

    His guilt was hardly proven beyond reasonable doubt in my opinion.

  • El Jorge

    Ben and Olivia accidentally walked in on a drug deal that went wrong and both got shot. There was an undercover cop involved in this deal who knew he would be exposed if their deaths were traced back to this deal. In the background he made sure the bodies could be disposed of without raising suspicion (cops looked the other way) and then arranged for the blame to be pinned on a dodgy character whom happened to be in the locality………Scott Watson!

  • blairmulholland

    I think the conviction is unsound, and the evidence seems circumstantial at best. I don’t trust the hair evidence because I don’t trust cops. There are too many things wrong with the case for me to be comfortable that the right man is in prison for this crime.

    Hopefully the truth of the matter will come out one day.