Ben and Olivia remain a scar on our nation’s psyche

The man convicted of murdering Ben Smart and Olivia Hope in the Marlborough Sounds almost 18 years ago claims he never met, or even laid eyes on the pair.

Scott Watson told North & South journalist Mike White … that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and police picked him out.

“I think it was because I had a criminal record, and I was [at Furneaux Lodge] alone and I left alone. I told them that. Basically I was an easy target for them. I was the easiest person that they could pick.”

Mr Smart, 21, and Miss Hope, 17, disappeared on New Year’s Day on 1998 after they were last seen boarding a yacht moored in Endeavour Inlet off Furneaux Lodge. Their bodies have never been found.

Watson is serving a life sentence with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years and at his first hearing in front of the Parole Board in July was declined parole because he was assessed with “a very high risk of future reoffending”.

The 44-year-old says in the interview, granted only after a judge ruled a ban on it by Corrections was unreasonable, that he knew nothing of the missing pair.

“I don’t know where Ben and Olivia are.

“I’ve never met them, never seen them. They definitely never came on my boat and I definitely didn’t murder them.

“And they’ve basically dumped me in jail for half my lifetime, it must be coming up, for something I haven’t done.

“It’s destroyed my family and my life.”

Let’s take our readers’ views in before discussions about the Scott Watson case reignite, and we can do another afterward to see if there has been a shift.


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