Thursday, August 29, 2013

Scott Watson RPOM Report - Some general impressions.

First of all in this report in response to an Exercise of the Royal Prerogative of Mercy made by Scott Watson to the Crown is the number of 'blanked' out names. The report is a now made public and it is difficult not to notice how many of the details of witnesses, or potential witnesses, are kept secret, fairly unprecedented in a society that takes pride in 'open Justice.'

Of course the most 'secrecy' appears to surround the evidence and recantations of prison inmates, in particular the troubled prisoner 'Secret Witness A.' It is clear that the author of the report Kristy McDonald QC had an extreme difficulty in 'stepping back' to consider this and other evidence in an overall context of the case against Watson. I must note that SWA has made contradictory statements to the point that he must be considered totally unreliable. It can't be forgotten that SWA was an important Crown Witness who put a 'confession' into the mouth of Scott Watson, a confession that must have had an impact on Watson's Jury. Now however SWA will no longer co-operate with The Crown, who despite that fact still 'stand by their man.' McDonald QC interestingly enough, saw her mandate as only able to consider new and fresh evidence, accordingly it would be appear to the uninitiated that it is new evidence that SWA no longer stands by his earlier evidence or indeed by The Crown. By the record produced of the contact attempts by Ms Mc Donald it is revealed that the troubled SWA still maintains a lifestyle as a criminal and perhaps unfortunately for him, the same mental health problems. Reading some of the claims by SWA, my opinion is that they are bizarre and untruthful and that he no longer is willing to support them is in itself 'fresh' evidence favouring Watson. If the 'confession' to SWA is a cornerstone of upholding the conviction of Watson The Crown case is obviously in serious trouble, was from the outset when police needed to rely on evidence from prison inmates, this one in particular having mental health issues.

Moving onto another 'cornerstone' of the evidence against Watson is the 'identification' of him the morning of the disappearance of Ben Smart and Olivia Hope. Reading the report the identification is frankly a mess, yet Ms McDonald dutifully holds it together. She in fact says that neither Guy Wallace or Roz McNeilly properly identified Watson and that was put to the Jury at the Trial by the Defence. She observes, on one issue forwarded by Watson, that both McNeilly and Wallace would not have identified, by their own admission now, Watson as the person the Jury were asked by the Crown to believe was Watson drinking in the bar that night, and later 'seen' leaving the wharf with the deceased couple. She says that the defence case was put to the Jury of non identification and that 'dock identification' of Watson that the witnesses now say they couldn't have made is unreliable. Hold on folks, the Jury obviously accepted the identification of Watson, clouded as it was, and having heard either witness tell them that Watson wasn't the person about whom they were giving evidence would have resulted in a dramatic and telling point in their deliberations, one that can't be escaped. It needs to also be noted that Ms McNeilly is now able to say that the person she served in the bar that night had no missing fingers, whereas Watson does. Effectively she would now be able to say Watson wasn't the 'mystery' man and that the 'mystery' man had no fingers missing, in fact able to give a good description of his hands.

In all fairness to The Crown they had identification problems, they had/have credibility problems with their witnesses. On that point there are witnesses whose evidence was 'allowed' as to the propensity of Watson to 'talk about' killing people, women in particular. 'Propensity evidence', also that of 'prisoners' and unreliable identification are all hallmarks of a weak prosecution, one which is striving to fill the gaps. In this case despite the 'propensity evidence' at least one witness was a former girlfriend of Watson whom apparently had nothing to offer in support of his propensity to murder, let alone to be violent.

A few weeks ago I wrote on the interactive blog Kiwi Blog that both the Minster of Justice and Ms McDonald had effectively hung their hats on the dna evidence of 2 hairs 'found' on a blanket taken from Watson's boat The Blade. The report reveals that the 2 hairs were no actually found on 2 earlier ESR searches rather than a single previous search that I mistakenly observed. So 2 searches and no 2 hairs. What I've now read is that our own Court of Appeal has commented on those 2 hairs and the controversy surrounding them in that they were part of a 'contaminated' mix pointed out by a commentator here a couple of days ago on the previous Watson thread. The COA refers to the 'matched' DNA profile as ' not explained by the dna mixed hairs.' On the surface a 'commanding' observation until viewed with a more neutral and open mind that allows the equal 'commanding'' observation that the importance of the 2 hairs (more about them shortly) is not explained by the 'contaminated' hair. If the first does not explain the second, then the second can not explain the first and that falls in favour of reasonable doubt about the importance of the evidence, the sanctity of it, and also the passage by which it travelled to that blanket only to be overlooked twice.

So as to those 2 crucial hairs one cannot help but note the language, which, on this point, Kristy McDonald is guarded - she uses the term 'strongly supported.' Not conclusive, without doubt, beyond doubt or absolutely proven. She relies on 'strongly supported.' On each and every turn Kristy McDonald avoids the 'overall' and highly visible picture between the lines of her report - as late Lord Diplock of the Privy Council has observed... “mercy is not the subject of legal rights [but] begins where legal rights end.'

If Watson legal rights have indeed ended, and if the Royal Prerogative of Mercy is so lifeless and blind then it can be said that a man unidentified by critical Crown witnesses as being in the company of Hope and Smart, whose ability to be a 'boy friend' of at least one woman who was unable to confirm is propensity to violence, let alone murder, whose confession was 'sung loud' by a crippled minded prisoner who is reported to have since said the police didn't look after him, and whom now abandons his master, is held in prison on the evidence of 2 mysteriously appearing hairs, uncontaminated by their contaminated environment.


  1. Until yesterday, I didn't even know that mitochondria contained DNA, and I didn't know the meanings of 'variable number tandem repeat', nor 'short tandem repeat'. But didn't the water taxi driver(Wallace?) testify that Scott Watson was so unconsciously drunk early am on that 01 January, that Watson's body had to be lifted onto his boat?
    If that's true, the 'totality' for me involved considering the improbability of Watson sobering up enough to overpower two fit young adults anytime that morning.

  2. Hi Lee. I didn't recall that detail about how drunk Watson was said to be. Yet the Crown claim that he made 2 trips when apparently falling down drunk, doesn't make sense.

    As to the DNA, if three hairs are said to be from the same originating source (not necessarily proven as being Olivia), one having cross contamination must surely impact on the other 2 don't you think? If 2 were transferred to the blanket in the way the Crown suggests, then how did the third get there. Maybe the answer is straight forward, but with 2 searches 'missing' this evidence then a 3rd finally discovery them, all at the same time apparently - only for 1 to have cross contamination seems odd. Particularly when the COA claim that the 'matching' evidence is not explained by the dna mixed hair - surely it is on the Crown to explain that not Watson or the Court.

  3. It does seem unusual for only 1 of the 3 hairs to have shown 'cross contamination'. Did Watson's defense counsel question witnesses about that 'cross contamination' during cross examination?

    1. I don't know Lee but it could have launched a new song 'see what contamination your examination is in.'

    2. I'm sorry for that Nostalgia-NZ, and any similarity to lyrics by Marshall Mathers was completely coincidental...but I did like the way it sounded...