Scott Watson interviewed

Debating convictions in high profile cases is a common pastime. Mark Lundy’s case had another burst recently and David Bain is a favourite (to debate).

One of the few that seems get almost universal support is Peter Ellis in his bizarre conviction in 1992.

Scott Watson’s conviction in 1999 for alleged murder over the Malborough Sounds disappearance of Ben Smart and Olivia Hope has been another controversial case.  The victiom’s bodies (presuming the are dead) have never been found.

Watson is still serving a life sentence with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years. He was granted approval to have an interview about his case with North and South journalist Mike White. This is in the latest edition of North and South, available from today (the old fashioned way, you need to but the magazine).

Watson says “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.”

North and South on Facebook link to Woman’s Weekly coverage (this is the first time I’ve linked to Womans Weekly):

In his first-ever interview, ‘Sounds murderer’ Scott Watson tells his story

After 18 years of maintaining his innocence, infamous Sounds murderer, Scott Watson has broken his silence for the first time in an interview with North & South magazine.

The man convicted for the deaths of Marlborough teenagers Ben Smart and Olivia Hope doesn’t hold back in sharing his side of the story throughout the 17-page feature. A story the authorities tried to prevent from happening.

“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,” says Watson.

Watson maintains it was a case of ‘wrong place, wrong time’, expressing his shock at finding himself the main suspect in the case which remains one of the most controversial in New Zealand’s history.

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

Mike White on his story:

The North & South story, written by Mike White, who has reported on the case since the very beginning, covers what happened that fateful night, Watson’s teenage crimes, his experience of the trial and his years in jail. It also offers a unique new insight into the perplexing case that divided New Zealand.

“You don’t judge a person on how you perceive them,” says White, who has also covered the Mark Lundy case in-depth.

“You judge them on what you know of the case and the evidence you can rely on. Into that, we can now add what Scott Watson has said. The only thing that I can say is that nothing he told me in Rolleston Prison [where Watson is incarcerated] has eased my enormous disquiet about this case and the many, many flaws and holes in it.

I have read a bit about the Watson case and there seems to be odd aspects to it and I can see how there are questions about the verdict.

But I haven’t looked at it in any depth and haven’t seen all the evidence as presented to the court. I have no informed opinion on whether Watson is guilty or innocent.

An appeal by Watson in 2000 was rejected by the New Zealand Court of Appeal, which found there was no new evidence to recommend a second trial.

In 2003 the Privy Council found no grounds for further appeal.