Saturday, December 21, 2013

Where Scott Watson finds himself at Christmas.

Think a little of a man or woman with a grievance, some dispute over land or property that has left them feeling wronged because they know, that some part of that wrong is obviously unjust. Transpose that land or property to freedom and particularise that grievance to evidence of guilt and you may come some where near how Scott Watson may feel this Christmas.

When a person considers the considerable merits of a Jury trial it is because of the vast range of character, perception, prejudice, bias, sympathy that individuals bring to their task of judging the innocence or guilt of one of their peers. All of those human characteristics based on life's experiences brought together to bring a balanced and blended view of the guilt or innocence of another human being. But what if some of that evidence is wrong, or no longer supported in it's certainty? Well in New Zealand we have a system where a representative of the Crown, the prosecuting body, will 'investigate' that evidence. Such is the situation with the Queen's Counsel Kristy McDonald. She was tasked to 'look into' various matters as to the safety of Scott Watson's conviction that has seen him imprisoned for over a decade.

Two specifics of that 'looking into' were a 'confession' attested to by a prison inmate who was virtually a stranger to Watson but to whom he apparently confessed in gross details sure to disturb or convince any peer. The other was 'forensic' proof, 2 hairs found on a blanket which were not 'found' during a previous search, and which, at very best may have at best been from 1000s of others of which none may have been one of the victims Olivia Hope. Imagine now the 'war' as the prosecution advanced its case against Watson in his trial. They were able to contend that Watson was a murderer who had confessed to, yes, a prison inmate he didn't know. After keeping 'mum' for months and many years since, he coughed to a prison inmate who just happened to gain some benefit from the police for his coughing.

Thinking about that might be a little disconcerting. Most people realise the some sing 'for their supper' and therefore what they sing must be closely scrutinised, particularly where a man or woman may become falsely imprisoned. Any troubling concerns about that could be overcome for example of a positive test for dna of one of the victims in this case being found on a blanket taken from Watson's boat. 2 hairs found there, that might fill the gap. It could fill the gap, resonant over doubts that  a man might mysteriously confess to another he did not know.

So this is what we have with Watson - a confession supported by doubt. When I say doubt, I mean the two hairs that are not proven to have come from Olivia Hope and which by some disturbing reason were not 'found' in the beginning but only in a later search. That's broadly 2 things until the prison inmate, rewarded for his 'evidence' says, hold on what I said wasn't the truth. The prison inmate recants. The man whose evidence the prosecution held aloft as they marched to 'war' has said he wasn't telling the truth. So Watson goes 'inside' the system to find a remedy, Mercy in fact.

However, 'inside' the merciful system is a waste land. The promised 'hope' for the vanquished is an empty place as empty as a fleeing debtor's past promises. More so, apart from being largely abandoned all the counters to which Watson might go are 'manned' by the same person - Ms McDonald. She is investigator, Judge, Jury and Court of Appeal. Of course she is awfully busy, too busy in fact to appreciate that a potentially innocent man, one whom has had telling evidence withdrawn against him should have his plea addressed in a timely manner. In fact Ms McDonald takes several years to complete the file, perhaps because she needed time to shift from counter to counter and role to role. No doubt a particular mind set is required to assume each role that can't be rushed. Watson waits, of course he has no choice. Then a few months ago after several years Ms McDonald's report is finally released.

She hasn't been able to 'find' the witness. In her acute wisdom, she feels that is not a problem, just because the evidence of the witness can no longer stand the conviction can be 'upheld' by the hairs the origin of which are in doubt. I've written before that McDonald's report and her undertaking the role of the Appeal Court in particular is Constitutionally wrong but it is wrong in another way - it is neither fair nor merciful.

Scott Watson finds himself in prison at Christmas for the 11th or 12 time at least, held by evidence that no longer exists,  that which is no longer at the forefront of the prosecution parade 'a confession' but which now however, is replaced by doubtful and speculative evidence upon which the 'confession' once rested in a mutual embrace of doubt.

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