Friday, February 5, 2016

Wishart's book Elementary? Not so much.

I've read Ian Wishart's book with much interest, taken notes in order to blog and assemble my thoughts in response. I had looked forward to something new and conclusive about the deaths of Ben Smart and Olivia Hope along with the conviction of Scott Watson. When it became apparent that the new book Elementary had concluded Watson was more than likely guilty I was keen to read the reasons for that conclusion. I expected an impartial logic particularly because IW has previously co-authored a book which made the claim that Watson was not guilty.

That impartial logic doesn't exist in Elementary. The book has a basic design to convince a reader that IW's conclusion is correct which is not evidenced based. It starts with descriptions of the character of psychopaths which Ian Wishart seeks to link to his apparently impartial and professional position as an investigative journalist. That doesn't work for me. Neither a Jury nor a Court decide guilt on the opinions of an investigative journalist assuming the role of a trained Psychiatrist on a person/patient whom they do not even consult. In fact a journalist is not a Psychiatrist. The only thing IW's opinion does is confirm a bias and give a preliminary warning that his 'diagnosis' of Watson is going to rely on the psychopath label to cover the cracks in the Watson guilty narrative. If this effort to paper over the cracks wasn't intentional then IW showed an alarming naivety if he believed it would not be seen that way. He refers to his diagnosis many times throughout the book as though it is backstop when the logic of his opinions lag.

Foremost, his need to rely on his opinion of Watson, is not the only crutch he takes into his analysis. Another is police tapes never released before. I had heard claims about these tapes and was obviously interested to know the contents. They are revealed toward the opening of the book and one can only consider that was another deliberate attempt to set the tone. In commenting about the tapes IW reveals his wont to allowing a reader the information while putting a spin on it which doesn't match the information. In the tapes Scott Watson's mother makes comments about Olivia and her parents which are unflattering, even perhaps exposing a jealousy. As IW continues his narrative commenting on the contents of the tapes he points out that the comments are callous and disturbing (my words, not his.) My thoughts had already jumped to the question as to whether Bev Watson had been aware that Olivia had been killed such was her language so removed from comments that one would expect. Near the end of the tape Bev Watson comments about the cost of the inquiry and who will have to pay for it when Olivia 'turns up.' Bev Watson had clearly considered that Olivia was not dead and would reappear. She was never gloating about the death of Olivia or Ben despite IW spinning it that way, he never retracted those comments perhaps hoping a reader would reach the same conclusion.

So IW attempted to paint a portrait of the Watson family which wasn't consistent with the secret tapes. The tapes also include talk of Watson shooting the head of the inquiry Rob Pope, in my opinion it was all just talk and didn't warrant inclusion in the book as I'm sure it would likely have been excluded from evidence at any trial as prejudicial and not helping the Crown case because the Watson family at least early on were convinced that the couple were not dead.

The 3rd backdrop to Elementary was IW's inability to hide his contempt or jealousy of Keith Hunter's work on the case. He appeared to write on the basis that for his conclusions to be accepted that he needed to belittle Hunter's work. He made some accusations against Hunter, conclusions which had a number of possibilities and not just one that appeared to be the best choice to devalue Hunter's work. I will give examples of this later. In the meantime to the notes:

According to IW psychopaths are around in numbers equivalent to about 4% of the population allowing to him to conclude that there were several psychopaths at Furneaux Lodge on New Years Eve 1997. Already IW had leapt to use of his diagnosis of SW as a psychopath, not with evidence or clinical support but from the expertise of an untrained layman. He then goes onto develop the theme that 'star' witness Guy Wallace, as IW calls him, recollections of dropping Olivia and Ben that night were compromised because he had discussed them with other witnesses right from the start. This allows IW to pull apart testimony that doesn't fit his theory while somehow stopping him applying the same restraints to testimony which suits him. He calls witnesses liars freely, when in fact they may simply be mistaken or as is the case most frequently, restricted to what IW claims they are saying. A reader is given no choice it's either IW's opinion or the highway.

Moving on, a PI Quintin working for the Watson family, asks members of the Watson family questions which they mention on the tapes, there is a sense in reading that some of the questions might have been asked on the behalf of the police - for some reason IW does pickup on that, nor indeed even mention it. Quintin says to Sandy, Scott's sister that someone is scared 'shitless' of Scott but she replies that she can't imagine that. Bev says that there is talk that Andrew, a friend of Scott, is scared of Scott. Sandy questions the veracity of that by saying 'but, he knew Scott' - reinforcing that because he knew him, and therefore his real character, it wouldn't be true.

IW writes that because SW stabbed someone is prison it fits the definition of psychopathy - however he doesn't bother to point out that his lack of supporting evidence that SW did actually stab someone when in prison. We find out that the man named Andrew above claimed to have been told by Scott to keep his mouth shut. Later on we discover that there is no reason connected to the murder revealed by IW that indeed, if it were true, was why Watson had told his friend to shut his mouth. This leaves the possible conclusion that Watson, Andrew and others may have been involved in dealing cannabis or some other criminal activity. In fact from the book it becomes clear that Watson's circle was shaken up by the police looking for evidence as would be expected in a murder inquiry and if they were involved in crime there was presumably plenty they should shut up about. There are allegations of Watson showing stress around this time and IW asks why. Well the answer is abundantly clear his boat had been seized and he was the centre of a murder inquiry.

Moving back to the PI Quinten he was told by Andrew that Scott was always stealing things, or he suspected he was but that the items always turned up again. This falls short of the mark IW was trying to make but he included it nevertheless to show SW as an untrustworthy thief. Andrew also reportedly didn't like Scott's attitude because he believed it was hard. My comment here would be that from what I've read SW made a point of trying to appear that way. He was however a small man and may have felt the need to present himself bigger and tougher than he was, none of which makes him guilty. Andrew asked SW if there was anything on the boat that he could be in trouble for after it had been seized. SW is claimed to have said no, 'that it was all cleaned up.' Taking into account the drug use and dealing alleged against Watson there are a number of conclusions as to what had been 'cleaned up.' Earlier Andrew described Scott as holding a hammer, and in another instance a rope 'like a garrote'. Taking into account there is no evidence known to me, and certainly not alleged by IW, involving Andrew in the deaths of Olivia or Ben, then Andrew must have been concerned about other dealings he and Scott may have been mutually involved in. IW reports that Andrew said that SW made inappropriate comments against women, something he also claimed about Guy Wallace who, a reader might think, was a target of IW to ensure belief of the validity of his theory. Going further one almost gets the impression that IW is suggesting that Guy Wallace was involved in the disappearance of the couple although he says that Wallace had a alibi.

IW writes about SW making comments about raping women and snuff movies. This, as far as the book goes, is not substantiated in the book other than by hearsay. There is another unsubstantiated claim by IW that a crewmate of Watson said that Watson would murder someone for the crewmate. How that finds its way into a credible book is a mystery. We find out that Scott changed the name of his boat frequently to avoid paying mooring fees - of course that is not proof that he killed Olivia and Ben. In fact I don't believe IW provides any proof of that, so the problem of the SW conviction continues on despite this book. Notable here, at about the same place in the book, is that SW talked about changing the colour of his boat long before New Years.

IW has Watson always carrying a flick knife yet we never heard this from Andrew or the reason why SW was allegedly threatening him. We do not know what Andrew might have known that Watson wanted him to remain silent about. A reader gets to read about a feud between Watson and another man over the shared ownership of a boat along with an allegation 95% 'sure' was 1 of 3 men yelling at another yachtie  but who couldn't see properly in the night to identify him. It is revealed that feud was settled between the 2 men amicably.

There is much written about witnesses impressions of Watson 'left out by Hunter.' No idea where this is meant to take IW because there is much revealed already about Watson changing when drunk - something not that unusual with young men, and those older - with all the elements of bravado or insecurity perhaps. SW is even said to 'hate' Christians, hardly uncommon - check out general debate on any interactive blog.

We come to a stolen rifle said to be in Watson's possession. This comes from a person called Ryder in whom SW obviously had confidence in to trade stolen property. This group including Ryder, Andrew and others when picked apart seem to have dwelt in a twilight world  where committing crime, or benefiting from it was not unusual.

Soon we happen upon North and South journalist Mike White, along with Hunter again, being attacked for not mentioning an unconfirmed incident some 9 years earlier that the New Year's Eve at Furneaux Lodge with a young lady at what appears to have been a skin heads pad. The event, if it happened, is said to reveal that despite what both men having said that SW had moderated his behaviour, in fact he had not. Relying on an unconfirmed incident following which no charges were laid is very odd, it was after all nearly a decade earlier than the disappearance of Smart and Hope. Another example where IW choose controversial alleged events to draw his picture of a psychopath his book relies upon. The public need hard evidence, not speculation, nor attacks on the shortcomings, or not, of other journalists.

We have conflicting reports that SW didn't drink much, or did, but that he smoked dope. I think the public already know that. Along with the fact he is or was a bit of bastard. What I expected the new book to bring, after it was announced that the author now felt Watson was guilty, was some substance. I don't think the book produced that. None of the contents go deep into proof of Watson's guilt, they are speculating on a foundation built by IW as SW bad, mad, even dangerous.

A sword incident is discussed, something also unreported to police as adding weight to an argument for guilt that has no weight. Dean Ryder, from that same circle as Watson, dealers, thieves from the narrative, says that Watson was capable of killing the couple and dumping them in the sea. On that subject I was reminded of the forensic insight of IW into psychopathy. We soon return to another tactic of the book, having the opinions expressed that some claimed Guy Wallace would rather lie than admit being wrong. It was important that Guy Wallace was wrong to suit the weak theories of IW, but that he relied upon it so much, and so blatantly, cast doubt again on his objectively - his investigative journalism. In general descriptions of Guy Wallace he reduces the man in a way many might feel unfair. He even fails to understand the consequences for Wallace of being a suspect in the murders. His view is ruthless to his cause of finally solving the case and it appears not to matter what gets in the way. For this reader, however, I needed clear evidence and not speculation or aspersions about character or motive of those not fitting the dialogue IW has attempted to sell. Often where IW excitedly reveals information from the police files he fails to appreciate that much of the information was not volunteered but resulted from questions from police. In other words to suit the case being built against Watson.

We hear about Wallace lying about going to Nelson. To IW this means that the man cannot be trusted, it never occurs to him that Wallace may be feeling the heat of being a suspect, or a star witness relied upon by police. From having this raised by IW it looks as though Guy Wallace was fortunate in having an alibi that night, one which IW appears to consider suspect because Wallace according to IW is a liar, refuses to admit being wrong, is a womaniser who makes lewd comments and who (my words) doesn't fit the IW world view of a good guy - even, one could suspect, not a christian. It seems to be missed by IW that Wallace wasn't keen to be framed for a crime to which he was connected as a suspect.

What does emerge from the wandering of IW's logic is that police were interested in Watson right from the beginning because he was well known to them. No surprise there apart from the failure of IW to connect that if Watson was so well known many local witnesses would have been a source of information - particularly as to identifying Watson being in the company of the deceased couple. That didn't happen before the book Elementary, and hasn't done since its publication. That information is more important than a character analysis of one of the witness and a psychiatric evaluation of Watson. On that basis the book is a let down, reads as something developed for a captive market, a milking of a cash cow.

Rather than repeat each time that IW relied on his interpretations of what witnesses or those making statements had said any reader may have hoped that IW have found proof positive of Watson's guilt rather than a stretched out analysis of what witnesses said from which IW could choose that which most suited his narrative. The middle of the book is bogged down with IW underlining of criticisms of Hunter in particular and the repetitive descriptions of eye witnesses. He didn't seem to realize that the main point he was making is that there is a lot of confusion among the descriptions none of which promote the Crown case, but which, alternatively weakened it for its lack of being able to clearly put Watson with the couple on his yacht or any other vessel. Over this was the point that IW was diverting from the key issues of the case, the questions that needed to be answered without the character attacks on some witnesses, police and journalists. Proof was needed not repeated criticism.

I noted at 33% of the way through the book that I didn't consider IW has made in progress in support of his headline 'Watson guilty.' We read account after account in which Watson is clean shaven, or unshaven, his height, his manner, his eyes, the length of his hair. Yawn really, people already know about  the discrepancies in the evidence of witnesses to identity. People really need to know about the critical time when Watson, according to his theory, was on board his boat - along with the couple who were silent while Watson woke up people on other boats he was tied up to in order to continue the party. I wanted to know about the absence of screams, how the up front and dangerous Watson  backed off every single time his behavior was called out that night. Watson might have been acting lecherously, though why if he had his victims somehow stowed away on his boat was he going onto other boats looking for company. Doesn't make sense, Nor does the silence from the couple, their decision to go aboard the yacht of an apparent, lecherous stranger. If they, according to this scenario, were alive in the morning why didn't they wake when their temporary bed set sail. It's hard to buy that they didn't, just like they didn't scream, or fight back when Watson had attacked them, also doesn't explain why he was seeking out female company on other yachts soon after or before he apparently attacked the couple. This is weak ground for the case of Watson's guilt and which IW totally ignored, preferring to rely on his psychiatric analysis of Watson and his ability to explain the identifications of witnesses of people and things he never witnessed himself.

IW brings his own argument and SW not being clean shaven by saying that the majority of witnesses said that he was not clean shaven. On IW's own theory of eye witness corruption because of witnesses talking to one another (and in fact police, reading in the media etc, gossiping) his argument or opinion renders the ids hopelessly unreliable. IW has done this in his book, even turning the process into a majority argument as to which witnesses are right and which witnesses are not. This is not investigative journalism but rather adjusting information that is reliable and unreliable into shape to suit a theory.

'Imagine what are the chances of 2 identical looking me, both psychopaths (underlined again by the author), being in the same bar at the same time and attracting the same attention from different witnesses.' In fact many of the witnesses said different things so the same attention idea does not apply, asking people to 'imagine' applies even less weight because throughout his book, and indeed right from the start, IW has deliberately created the picture he endeavors to make his readers imagine starting with a psychopath, parents allegedly supporting him despite knowing that he was the killer, a sex pervert, people in fear of him (but still somehow working with him and being friends) and so it goes on - no need for imagination as Mr Wishart has indicated what must be imagined, in fact arranged in order that there may be little other choice unless one is interested in how and if the couple went aboard the Blade, ie positive proof.

There is evidence of Watson apparently falling over drunk, swaying on his feet, having drunk a bottle of rum, being clearly intoxicated and stoned. How therefore did he convince an aware young couple to go with him to his yacht, have them remain silent while he went to wake up neighbors on other yachts to party in the small hours, propositioning  women. In fact proposition women when it is claimed he already had one captive on board his yacht along with a man apparently bigger than the diminutive Watson. We read about the fiery exchanges between Olivia and those that allowed her bunk to be used on the Tamarack, a bunk she had paid for, of others sleeping on the decks. When did she become suddenly silent and compliant, the evidence is lacking to say that happened on Watson's yacht The Blade. Considering that Watson was inviting women from the boats his yacht was tied to - where did that put the couple. Wishart entirely misses that point as I did until just now.

All the evidence about  persons in the bar that may have been Watson is a red herring, he admitted being in the bar. A reader is asked to jump from Watson's conduct (or some one that perhaps was Watson) on the prowl in the bar to therefore believing that he and the couple were dropped off to his boat in silence, no voices, no laughing, no screaming, no yells of rage, sounds of fighting - absolutely nothing and no witness saying that they saw that group go aboard the Blade led by the drunken Watson. And, as we now know, thanks to IW's book, inviting other women onto his boat during the time the whole police case argued that the couple were on his boat. Big fail there.

IW tries to convince a reader that the photo of Watson being clean shaven is only as good as the person camera and lens. When something favours Watson it is illusionary, in fact photo shopped IW later claims. When Watson isn't placed going aboard with the couple by Guy Wallace it is because Wallace is an unreliable liar who might only be reliable if he was prepared to agree with IW. When witnesses deny seeing SW they are unreliable their memories corrupted recollections enhanced from speaking to other witnesses.

Popping back to the secret tapes I have to wonder why IW question Bev Watson about her comments on the tape regarding Olivia and her parents. Logic would suggest only 1 answer, because she had already vindicated her position on the tapes themselves - she had not believed that Olivia was dead and IW knows that. That is a long way from a mother distressed that he son was in trouble and that she somehow supported him knowing he was guilty. None of that stops IW from overlooking what favours Watson by deliberately turning facts into something they are not.

IW blames the police for not clearing up that there was no mystery ketch. However, because IW has taken a point of view, one that less than subtlety is to upsurp Keith Hunter and therefore sell his book, IW has only added to the lack of clear and pivotal evidence against SW. Ted Walsh, like Guy Wallace and Roz McNeilly before him becomes unreliable - in fact a target of the pen of IW. This criticism is from a person who was not there, and who is trying to convince the public that he was mistaken in his former view that SW was not guilty. IW appears to have a condescending view of readers and witnesses alike. If the witness does not say something in support of IW theory, IW simply explains why the witness is wrong and tells the reader what the witness actually saw. Where doubt lingers, phrases such 'criminally psychopathic personality' 'snuff movies' etc are rolled out again and again to fill the gaps.

Despite the volumes of criticism of Hunter and White as journalists from IW the author takes emotive language and conclusions to a new level in his claim to be critical, another example 'so what are the odd? We have 2 psychopaths prone to violence, and rape and murder fantasies, drunk and on drugs, with a Jekyll and Hyde personality matching the description of the missing man?" A reader will know that Watson has apparently no arrest record for rape, backed down each time when confronted with people telling him to 'f' off, and that rape and murder fantasies may not even exist. Again why would 'Wallace be hearing voices in his head or gilding the lily' as IW puts it? Emotive nonsense. Guy Wallace could have done himself a big favour by remaining compliant with police and his first accounts. He gains nothing from the conflict that has ensued since he retracted his identification of Watson being with the couple, in fact he loses from it and IW demonstrates this in a most ruthless way in order to sell his book. More on that later.

Calming down from the tirade against Guy Wallace, what the forensic psychiatrist/investigative journalist somehow overlooks in forgetting about his readers, and his job, is that all the controversy surrounding Wallace is reason for a retrial. Indeed, something for a jury to evaluate, along with the retracted position of Roz McNeilly (who IW fails to land a punch against) and the retracted statement of the prison inmate who heard the confession. No mention of that confession which apparently did not have any detail supporting the new position of IW regarding accompliches.

IW goes into a lot of drivel about gangs. A line that the police obviously investigated and turned away from. That doesn't stop IW, if mentioning snuff movies won't help convince a reader then surely the mention of gangs will help. Another demonstrable flaw is the claim by IW that the reason Guy Wallace 'lied' to police was because he could not afford $2000 an hour to pay for a lawyer. 20 or so years ago its arguable than no lawyer in NZ charged out at that rate, it would be rare if indeed credible that such a rate would even apply today. IW made stuff up.

'Elementary' generally bogs down in the middle of book on either side are repeats of descriptions, no substance other than comparing the descriptions time and again. If had decided to blog about the book I would have skipped to the end rather than read what had been repeated again, and again. We hear about SW height going from 5ft 8 to 6 foot, slurring his words, swaying back and forth, inebriated and having trouble standing. Nothing about the key factors of this case, no break through no support for the fact that even on IW's account Watson's conviction is suspect because there may have been more for the Jury to consider. There are changes from a 't' shirt to a grey jumper, from drunkeness to being sober. A bloody mess. I wanted to know about hairs on the blanket which are not even mentioned in the book, I wanted, expected Wishart, to step back and bring into play the way Watson's Application for the Prerogative of Mercy had been dealt with, real evidence, not confusion in order to make Wishart right but others wrong.

In Chapter 17 we see another example of IW blatantly overlooking what a witness says. The water taxi driver Mullen says 'I do no recall taking only 1 passenger on my water taxi out to the yacht. The procedure we adopted was to fill the taxi with as many people as it could possibly take, in a safe manner. I doubt that I would have left the wharf with only 1 passenger, although it could have occurred but I can't remember doing it.'

IW takes that statement literally but entirely overlooks the qualification. He uses the statement to claim that Watson is a liar and then attacks Hunter for overlooking it. As in other places he frequently overlooks what a witness actually says in order to promote his theory. That is unfair. Particularly because Wishart damns the defence lawyer at the trial for doing (in IW's opinion) exactly the same thing. It is worrying as to why a journalist so blatantly twists the facts, particular where the reader can read them and see that what the author says is in conflict with what the witness has said.

Scott Watson says that he didn't speak to anybody on the yacht the Blanco the Blade was tied up to that night, that is after he was dropped off from the Lodge. However a female witness says she woke up and looked toward the cabin door asking 'what are you doing in here?' She says the person who responded sounded really uneducated and either drunk or drugged. As the conversation continues, the woman's partner becomes involved, by now in his narrative IW has decided that the man at the door is in fact Watson, it no doubt was. The man, Watson, offers to 'look after' the woman for the man. He is told to 'f' off and leaves. Watson in his own statements admits going aboard the other yachts that The Blade was tied up and looking for a party, calling the sleepers 'pikers' and so on. That he may have confused 1 yacht for another does not make him a liar as IW zeroes in onto convince the reader but ignores the real evidence - that Watson could not have afforded another woman or man to come aboard his yacht had the couple been there.

The investigative journalist is completely silent as this point on making any comment about the apparent absurdity of Watson already having a silent couple on board going looking for a partner. What a reader learns is that Watson when told to go away, just as happened many times on shore, actually left. Confusion follows as to what time The Blade left it's mooring later. What there is absolutely no confusion about is that there had been no noise indicating anyone else was aboard The Blade with Watson and there remains not one witness to this day who puts the couple together with Watson on board The Blade. Every re-interpreted description in the world, every aside about Bev Watson, about Watson himself cannot, and has not bridged the gap, of putting Olivia and Ben with Watson on his yacht that morning. When I speak about noise, I mean no laughing, loud talking as those drunk might do, no music, no screaming or thuds of violence.

Instead IW makes great purchase of his belief that 'no one drunk, who was awake nearly 24 hours, falls asleep and then wakes up in the space of an hour, noiselessly unties his boat and slips away before sunrise.' That's an opinion readers will judge from their own experiences. That lack of noise is definitely inconsistent with the sounds of murder or a young couple being woken by the thud of a diesel motor only a few metres from where they may have slept.

In Chapter 20 we go into details about SW painting his boat. This is a tired old argument. IW himself admits that Watson had been talking about repainting his yacht in the months leading up to New Year's Day. I think IW confuses the matter further than it has been already. I've reached a point recently in accepting that because Watson and The Blade were so well known in the area, fresh paint wasn't going to fool anybody. If you knew Watson you knew his yacht whatever color it was painted. Around this time the character attacks on a friend of Watson, Zapper and his children, begin with a disturbing feature with which IW finishes his book and which I will write about toward the end here. According to IW most of those Watson associated with were in his control in some way. Because of the fact Zapper would be convicted of growing dope we should not forget Watson's other friends in Picton and consider that Zapper most likely supplied Watson with dope and he could have on sold to others. Jumping to a scenario that Zapper would place himself at risk to help Watson hide his involvement in murder is a jump too far. It was far more likely that Zapper would have been offered a deal to 'rat on' Watson and have his cannabis operation/conviction handled in a manner less destructive to himself and family.

Later we read about a young lad saying he saw 2 men on The Blade but IW can't produce this 2nd person or any evidence reliably supporting it. He mentions some possible candidates but frankly admits a cold trail. That doesn't stop his theory however, or his attacks on the drug dealer zapper and his 2 children. He accuses zapper of enlisting his children to being 'accessories after the fact to murder.' As for the 2 men theory a reader must wonder why that information wasn't in the withdrawn confession Watson is claimed to have made to a prison inmate. IW backs up the claim of the 2nd man theory on using the evidence of Sam Edwards, another water taxi driver who knew Watson and The Blade well. Looking at what Sam Edwards says however is that he saw The Blade from a 100 to 150 meters away, that Watson waved to him and that he was 'pretty sure' he saw another person on board. That was all the desperate IW needed, pretty sure is proof positive in his book. He of course makes no comment on Watson drawing attention to himself when he is in the depths of either dumping bodies or painting his boat in order that persons such as Sam Edwards will not recognise him.

It gets more bizarre. 'If Watson did kill Ben and Olivia, was he planning to to rendezvous with someone who could help him get rid of the bodies, and/or was he dropping off the mystery man on board?' IW asks. The planning for such a rendezvous required that Watson found somebody to take back to his yacht, that there was someone willing to involve themselves in a terribly sick act and be waiting at some pre-planned place and a pre-planned time beggars belief taking into account there is no evidence to support such a theory to this date, probability zero. That zero undermined further because Watson invited others onto his boat to have a 'good time' after the couple had been allegedly dropped off there. Rendezvous planned? Bloody daydream.

Final chapter in a book without surprises, well at least no surprises that weren't signaled from the outset and did not continue to regurgitated, tediously, throughout. We hear about 2 men handling corpse size bags one passing each corpse to the other in a dingy. I know that dingies are easy to tip, but I know more about handling heavy weight. Moving decomposing bodies with rigor mortis setting in, lifting them over a rail and down to someone in a dingy might be impossible. Assuming that the couple weight around 65 to 80 kgs I have to ask whey IW did not conduct a practical test on this claim, it would have taken little time and be easy to achieve. I think there is only 1 answer for that. I won't dwell here on the 'body bags' others have mentioned sails, I've wondered about freshly cut marijuana been whisked away in anticipation of heat going on in the area from police. I have no proof, but I'm more than confident about the handling of bodies (or something of equivalent weight) so easily as IW wants a reader to accept is pure bs. But I'll challenge Wishart to do the experiment, maybe he could invite Keith Hunter along/

IW for his faith leaps, pyschiatric evaluations, conclusions about people lying when they clearly could be simply mistaken might have shored up confidence in his impartiality had he conducted the body moving experiment before going to publication - that is what I believe a investigative journalist would do. He accepts himself that it would be difficult in the extreme and chaplinesque in execution - but that doesn't stop him from using it.

One final, disturbing point. I read recently details of claims that Watson had sent intimate photos of himself to a young girl, When the Justice Department investigated they found that they were  sent from a prison in which Watson was not housed - a set up in other words. Here is something a reader might think is similar. It is in a PS to the book Elementary - presumable just for good measure.

Postscript: As this book was going to press, former Detective Senior Sergeant Wayne Stringer told me that Watson had not just 'confessed' to Zappa about the murders, but actually boasted about it, in the same breath making barely veiled lewd threats about Zappa's 13 year old daughter. Zappa told Stringer this directly, years later.



  1. Nostalgia-NZ, I will have to reread the appropriate parts, but I found myself persuaded the yacht in the position Hunter placed the mystery ketch was in fact the family ketch The Alliance, and all sightings followed from that, before and after the events. I also thought his arguments about the Eerie Bay arrival being on the second had some traction. Without a mystery ketch, the mystery deepens immensely. I heard Greg O'Connor police commissioner explain the police established there were men unloading sails in bags, not bodies in bags. How Wishart could put that garbage in his book is beyond me, but we still need a ketch. I will reread parts when time, meanwhile I have that other info coming shortly.

    1. I'm not sure I can agree that a ketch is needed. Much as the identifications at the Lodge are confused, so also are details surrounding the Ketch. I think Watson has to be put with the couple beyond reasonable doubt going onto The Blade. Not only is there doubt regarding this but it deepens when considering the behavior after Watson went aboard his own yacht according to the witnesses on Blanco. Right now that appears to be the most important evidence, it may have been well known to others before the book Elementary but I was unaware of its existence. I note in the witness reports of the conversation Watson was asking one witness to essentially borrow the witness's partner. In another case from the evidence Watson (or someone that could have been Watson) was said to be saying he had a bed for Olivia but not for Ben. This is stuff for the Courts. A jury could believe that Olivia and Ben didn't go aboard with Watson and that Watson was alone when he was waking up other sleepers on neighboring boats, even propositioning them - with either bodies on board his own yacht or a couple there. It's difficult to reconcile.

      At this stage The Crown's fall back, well, at least in the recent application by Watson for the Royal Prerogative of Mercy, are the 2 hairs found on a blanket which most people now know where from Olivia's hereditary line. There is a problem with the hairs of course, no other evidence of dna either from Ben or Olivia on the blanket, and the hairs - despite being long and blond, not found on an initial search. A jury could well accept (particularly because of the Guy Wallace retraction) and that of the witnesses on Blanco that the Watson defence has overcome this Crown fallback - particularly in the totality of the evidence.

    2. The'mystery ketch'....My wife and I saw a 40-45 foot ketch moored right next to us at Bayswater Marina in early 1998'. It precisely matched the general description of the 'mystery ketch'-with a white hull, a wide blue stripe on the hull with round bronze portholes in it, and very obvious, very distinctive rope work, and we spoke to the skipper. He said he was at Furneaux Lodge that 1997 New Year's eve. So for my money the 'mystery ketch' absolutely exists. See for more details. The story of my attempts to establish the details of the subsequent Police investigation of our sighting is very interesting in its own right, but ultimately we never received any useful feedback from them.

      BTW, 'Alliance' was absolutely not the ketch we saw, nor does it accurately match any of the key witnesses descriptions of the 'mystery ketch'

    3. Thanks David. This is the sort of information that DW should have weighed in his book. I don't recall this particular siting being mentioned in the recent Watson Application For The Royal Prerogative of Mercy. It should have been included as well as should the evidence of Ted Walsh someone sent here below. Where the consideration of that report failed was that each part of the application was only looked at separately, this is wrong in law as far as I know. It also needed to be looked at collectively, in which case a reasonable assumption would have been a recommendation for it to be sent to the Appeal Court. A case can't be judged on single events to the exclusion of an overall picture this information from you and your wife is part of that picture. Regards.

    4. The interesting thing is that the main thrust of the Fisher report on Justice Binnie's report on the Bain case was that Binnie committed a fundamental error by looking at evidence piece by piece, not as a whole. Exactly the problem with the absurd McDonald report on Scott's appeal to the Governor General.

    5. Actually Binnie referred to the evidence in detail as well as in continuity. He clearly did that and it was Fisher who claimed that he hadn't. Regardless of that debate, there is no doubt the McDonald report neglected the collective view of evidence totally. I would rather the Watson camp had sought a review on that rather than the prison interview. Perhaps that could still reviewed, but with all new evidence of material value a new application might prove a better option with it spelt out in detail how all the evidence must be looked at as a whole as well as individually. Unfortunately, I don't know if the recorded statements of the couple on The Blanco were heard at the trial, I assume not - they look extremely important now with McNeillys, Wallace's and the secret witness now of more value to Watson than the Crown.

    6. ‘I’ve just noticed Samson’s comment “I found myself persuaded the yacht in the position Hunter placed the mystery ketch was in fact the family ketch The Alliance, and all sightings followed from that, before and after the events”’. Then his American expert analyst says “Wishart does an excellent job of solving the ketch mystery and discrediting the statements and testimony of the water taxi operator, Guy Wallace. He also explains why Watson would have stood out as a plausible suspect in the eyes of police. So there goes Watson's sure claim of innocence”.

      Samson and his American expert might have had a different view had Wishart included all the relevant evidence in his book. Both should check pp132-3 of my book Trial By Trickery. There they’ll find an aerial photo and three maps hand-drawn at the time by witnesses to the presence of the ketch at Furneaux. All four witnesses place the ketch in the same position off the little Solitude wharf, some 300 metres out from shore to the left of the Furneaux jetty,. Two others, water taxi driver Guy Wallace (eventually) and launch operator Ted Walsh placed it in the same place.

      Two of the witness maps in my book refer to both the ketch and Alliance. They place Alliance where it is known to have been from those aboard her, from multiple eyewitness accounts and from police files. She was moored 150 metres out from shore to the right of the Furneaux jetty.

      The colour plates after p 112 in TxT include a police map of the mooring area. In it the locations of both Alliance and ketch, as described by the witnesses and the evidence, are clear. They are about three hundred metres apart.

      I didn’t “place the mystery ketch” anywhere at all. The witnesses did all the placing and it was nowhere near Alliance.. What on earth led Samson to believe otherwise?. Was it because Wishart’s book relies on false argument and omissions to make his points?’
      The first section of my film, ‘Murder On The Blade?’ locates the ketch. It’s available free on the internet at: ‘


      Keith Hunter

    7. Firstly, why is the 'mystery ketch' so difficult to find? There's no mention that the scruffy haired mystery man at the bar (and later on the water taxi) that night had a foreign accent - so in all likelihood the mystery ketch was either a NZ or an Australian-based boat. A distinctive ketch that size should not be difficult to find. It is not a small ship. I'm a former boatie and know that sailors always notice the distinctive ships that they sail pass - so where are the recent sightings of that ketch? Secondly, if Scott Watson wants to be taken seriously he should agree to take the Australian Police Lie Detector test as it is said to have a 99.9% accuracy rate. If I was accused of even a minor crime (and knew that I was innocent) I would be loudly screaming for this test and not just passively accepting my fate, of wasting away in prison.

    8. The answer to your first question is that there seems no reason why the mystery ketch was so difficult to find. That was really the job of police, from the recent show 'Doubt' and Wishart's book there is little detail of any search at all for the ketch. Some witnesses were told pointedly that they were mistaken and that no ketch existed, taken that to it's extreme if either of us refused to look into the sky because no moon existed the correct statement would be that we didn't look for the ketch because we knew it didn't exist and we would both be wrong.

      There is a picture of a ketch on here sent along by a correspondent who also provided a back story for it. The only reason I assume that he sent it to me is because either the police had ignored him had let them know, or because he didn't bother because of their public denials that it existed.

      I am aware of 1 person in contact with Scott Watson and I shall send your advice about the Australian Lie Detector test onto him. That's a good idea, however I fear the NZ authorities would not give him permission.


  2. I asked an independent American analyst to check the book, and he just posted this. I think you will be interested in his take.

    OK, I have gone through this book.

    Wishart does an excellent job of solving the ketch mystery and discrediting the statements and testimony of the water taxi operator, Guy Wallace. He also explains why Watson would have stood out as a plausible suspect in the eyes of police.

    So there goes Watson's sure claim of innocence. So far, so good. Wishart should have stopped there. He thinks he has solved the crime and proved Watson's guilt. Bullshit. All he has proved, with his review and analysis, is that it is impossible to solve this crime with the information we have.

    The "evidence" in this case comes down to the recollections of people at a raucous, spread-out, summertime party, many of whom were intoxicated to some degree. They tell shifting stories of events they barely noticed at the time, involving people they did not know or did not know well. Accounts of Watson or someone who may have been Watson have him dressed in two, distinctively different ways during the course of the evening. I therefore submit that Watson may not have been the only drunken idiot who was pestering women at that bar, no one was really paying attention, and it doesn't prove a damn thing anyway.

    Wishart's theory is that Watson lured the victims aboard his boat and killed them. At some point during or after the commission of this crime, Watson somehow acquired an accomplice. The two of them disposed of the bodies on land, after which they disposed of other evidence by casting it into a bay in front of people who were watching from their homes on shore.

    That is a stupid and improbable theory.

    Much is made of the people who claim to have seen Watson or someone painting the cabin on his boat while under way. But what purpose would that serve in connection with the crime? Why would a murderer draw attention to himself that way?

    This "Keating" character is assumed to have lied for Watson, and gotten both his children to do the same, so as to provide Watson with an alibi. I seriously doubt it. No version of this guy's story gives Watson a meaningful alibi for the time when the murders would have occurred.

    Interestingly, Wishart does not suggest Wallace was lying to cover for Watson, even though his accounts vary at least as much, and are at least as provably wrong on certain points, as are those of "Keating." Is it possible both witnesses were trying to remember as best they could, but were all mixed up, from the very start, about what they saw, when they saw it, and the order in which events occurred? If so they would be no more inaccurate or complicit in any crime than were the subjects of von Liszt's famous experiment in 1902. That experiment has been repeated many times, under different conditions, always with the same results. Witnesses are spectacularly wrong about basic facts, even when questioned moments after an event occurs.

    One seemingly reliable, shared recollection is that Watson came back from his revelry on shore and disturbed several people who were sleeping, because he wanted to keep the party going. That seems unlikely for someone with amorous or criminal designs on a woman whom he had just brought aboard his boat. But who knows? Watson might well have done this crime. He might just as well be completely innocent. I don't think there will ever be any way to know. Any theory will involve guesswork far too tenuous to sustain a reasonable conviction.

    But no one can expect to sell a book if that's the only fair conclusion they can reach in the end. Hence we have this mess - a useful analysis combined with a bogus attempt to solve the mystery.

  3. Like this reply Samson. Thanks for sending it along.

    What is also 'stupid and improbable' with the accomplice theory is that it could be argued that Watson was doing everything possible to bring attention to himself. Had he been capable of enlisting an elaborate plan that included an accomplice it is incongruous with his drunkenness, waking up other those on nearby boats, even being at the Lodge that night. Think of Malcom Rewa's crimes, a serial rapist and killer, worked alone and in stealth.

    I think the profile of Watson being a rough neck is over played. He is a relatively small man, arguably with a big mouth when drunk or with friends - not easy on being foul mouthed. Being desperate for 'company' was probably a common component with most of the young, single men at the Lodge that night. Somebody more serious and with a different mindset is required and not a 'drunken idiot' as your correspondent refers.

  4. "Alliance owner Mr Kennedy at the trial"

    “By 9.30 am Alliance began to drag anchor, so they left for Tawa Bay, then to Punga Cove, where they spent the next night. On January 2, they returned to Waikawa Bay in Picton, where Alliance is berthed”

    Ted Walsh (and others on his boat Sweet Release) saw ketch with light blond haired girl at Cannibal Cove 10:30 am Jan 2nd.
    Cannibal Cove is not between Punga Cove & Waikawa marina. It is in the other direction on the way out of the sound towards Cook Strait.

    Ted Walsh did not know Olivia & sister had bleached their hair for the NYE party until long after the trial. Then he became adamant the girl he saw Jan 2nd with light blond hair was Olivia.

    1. Thanks for that. In such a large body of evidence it's easy for those such as myself who don't know all the details to overlook, or simply not know, such things. It remains that there is no consistent evidence that the couple went aboard The Blade.

  5. Your review was an exercise in misquoting by yourself, so I took the opportunity to respond.

  6. Answer for Ian.Re-The question supporters cannot answer .
    'A logical proof is a statement whose conclusion must be true if certain preconditions (premises) are met' writes Ian Wishart.
    Premise One- Scott Watson arrived at Jetty after 3.30am
    Premise Two- Only two water taxi drivers were still on duty.
    Premis three- Mullen says he definitely did not take Scott Watson to Blade.
    Well Premise two falls apart as there were three taxi drivers operating. This is proven at trial.Donald Anderson is the third driver, he has dropped off fellow work mate (John Mullen) after 2.30am. He then dropped off Scott Watson at approximately 3.55am-Mina Cornelia (Mahony court testiment) puts Watson aboard Blade around 4.00am.Although Anderson had finished for the night ,whilst having a cup of coffee on board a boat moored at the jetty he is asked by a lone man for a lift out to his yacht which at first he decided not to do but relented as the man had been waiting patiently. Anderson returned to the Jetty after delivering Scott to the Blade where he was then asked by Dyer and Morrisey for a lift and is relieved by Guy Wallace who offered to do a couple of runs for him. Racheal Vietch confirms Wallace's offer and 'shut up shop' so to speak, shortly before 5am.
    Anderson had a short conversation with this man on way whom told him name of his yacht which later he could not recall but said -” I was expecting a large,sleek yacht because of its' name -a weapon of some sort”.In all likelihood Scott Watson was the last to be dropped off at a changeover of drivers which probably wasn't rostered but occurred nontheless.
    We have Vietch,Wallace and Anderson attesting to this swap of drivers.Dyer and Morrisey would support it too -afterall they assumed he was working and asked for a ride with Anderson repling “I am due for a coffee break” and refusing them.
    Scott wasn't on Guys trip he was on Andersons and the time frame supports this as Anderson was still on Jetty when Dyer asked for lift ,indeed he watched the assembled group gathering for ride.
    Evidence of Scotts behaviour once back is numerous in the trial ,it's dark,one set of footsteps, etc,he woke up sleeping people,they checked the time no doubt, as you do.
    I would in turn like the two trip theory explained and also why was it left until summing up during trial?Oops that's right- we now wouldn't have a two trip theory if the lone man on taxi with Amelia,Richard,Hayden and Sarah was Scott.
    I don't know if Scott is guilty as sin or innocent as a lamb but there does exist reasonable doubt.

    1. I actually found Wishart's book helpful in many ways. Despite what his intentions may have been he helped configure the confusion of the night, the doubt. He also, perhaps mistakenly for his cause, revealed the lie against the Watson family when he tried to say they were involved in someway in covering up. It was clear from his book that the Watson family didn't believe, according to the not so secret tapes that good old Ian revealed, that Olivia was dead at the outset of her disappearance and for sometime later. How you could imply a conspiracy of silence against a family saying they were covering up a murder that they didn't think had happened - sure takes some beating. Speaking of beating, that's appears to be exactly what Ian did to himself, by setting out to prove that Watson was the killer, that his family were his co-conspirators in silence, that Guy Wallace wasn't to be trusted and that Ian, according to his psychiatric self - just to bridge any difficulties in the narrative of his story, was able to determine that hello! Watson was a psychopath. Laying it on too thick really - no well thought through. Wishart had a plan, but not an open or inquiring mind that might have alerted him to the shortfalls in his story book.

  7. If you weren't convinced by Ian's relentless repetitions about descriptions, how Watson said something to someone on a yacht one time about carrying a knife, or how he shouted out from the wharf to someone aboard a yacht anchored there or nearby, unfortunately I don't think the last, un-provable nonsense that completed his job by reporting that a dead man allegedly once said to a cop - who just happened to repeat it to Ian when he was doing his Sherlock impersonation, that he covered up for Watson because Watson had threatened.... wait for it, to rape his daughter. There could no greater attempt to persuade a reader by rumour and unfounded allegations than the end of Ian's book. Didn't work for me, what a dead man may, or may not have said to a police officer years after a case that won't go away presents a clear opportunity to think that Ian was feeding a story of someone else's design. A story as overdone as it's original version.

  8. Really interesting blog - IW 'Elementary' added info that was useful - more in throwing doubt on the 'proof' of Watson's guilt and the wide range of witness accuracy on the 'Mystery man'. Both Police and IW bend over backward to combine all descriptions into Watson - while failing to consider there could have been numerous 'loners'. Did anyone notice top of p251 where apparently SW told a witness that he had a "double -masted ketch" and invited her on it. Could that have been another person? likely.
    In Trial by Trickery p78, Hunter explains that a 2004 TV 'Sunday' doco claimed Watson had said 'I'll get into your pants before the nights over....' when it was actually a bearded mystery man! But the one question that gets me is why the police never used live people in their witness IDs for Watson? they relied on bogus confusing misleading photos then claimed their witnesses such as Roz McNeilly and Wallace had 'identified' Watson from photo montages. Rubbish. their were obviously several unidentified males around, just like there were possibly boats that came and went that were not photographed. Hope the doco this sunday can raise some good points. this case should be re-examined by impartial experts - without a motive or a grudge or rights to sell a book. thanks JC

    1. Yes, 'Elementary' did raise more doubt about SW's conviction. IW tried to do too much with too little, when IW had SW waving out to passing yachties he knew, or who knew him, it exposed that Scott wasn't trying to hide. This also made a mockery of the claim that painting The Blade was an attempt to disguise the vessel.

      I'm not clear on the witnesses ID's any longer, I do remember controversy over photo montages and the selection of personnel for 'line ups' which resulted in new protocols. Positive ID's appear worthless in this case to incriminate SW, particularly with Roz McNeilly and Guy Wallace now saying that Scott wasn't the person they saw with the couple, that in itself indicates a Miscarriage of Justice in this case and should have resulted in a retrial. I note the a 2nd person on duty in the bar that night has never at any point identified SW, so the Crown's id witnesses are all but gone and all there is to rely upon are 2 hairs, found, much like the Thomas cartridge case, and Bain glasses lens, after a 'special' mission re-search.

      I remain very disappointed that Scott's Application for the Royal Prerogative of Mercy has not been tested with Judicial Review. McDonald's report was pathetic and I doubt would withstand Judicial scrutiny.

      Finally how can the evidence of the couple on the Blanco be ignored in the continuity of the narrative that indicates SW's innocence. The case is so badly fractured now, and will be further if Arthur Taylor's private prosecution sheds light on the employment of secret witnesses who were part of Pope's dirty tactics pack.

    2. What really disturbs me? The hairs were actually examined twice, on 19/1/98 and 21/1/98 with 'nothing of interest found". They were counted and examined for follicles attached (required for DNA analysis. Miraculously on a third examination, not only were two long blond (15cm and 20cm) hairs found, they both had follicles attached.

      What are the odds of that? 400+ hairs, no folicles, 2 hairs both with follicles

    3. I am going to check that out. I would appreciate any supporting information you may have. You can send it to me as a comment if you want it kept private and I read it but not publish, you may choose.

    4. I have since learnt that the two blond hairs may not have had follicles the DNA analysis done in the end was a mitochondrial DNA analysis, which only requires the hair shaft

    5. Check out the Blog on here 'Scott Watson innocent in Kiwi language' for some interesting information lately emerged from the States. Rather than being the strongest evidence against him, as according to Judith Collins, it's the most dodgiest and weakest - by virtue of the material above about the searches etc but also the fallibility of DNA evidence and biased testing procedures.

  9. There were two witnesses who saw Olivia and Ben getting onto what was likely Watson's boat after being offered a place to stay the night - that is not in dispute.

    They were tired by then and may well have gone straight to sleep hence Watson checking the next door boat - or that could have been to alibi himself.

    What was the hurry to get away the next morning and then get the boat painted - while on the move?

    Why were Watson's clothes from that night never found? Why did Watson lie about his whereabouts in the next few days. Why was the boat so clean?

    Why did the witnesses who saw the unloading of the bags say how difficult it appeared to be? Surely some has in a sail wouldn't have been that difficult to handle?

  10. What aload of bollocks!! There is no dispute among the witnesses THAT WERE THERE that ben and Olivia got on to a boat much larger than Scott's, with a stripe, and a wooden hull. Scott's has no stripe, and a steel hull. there is no credible evidence he was in a hurry to leave, nor any credible evidence he painted it 'on the move'

    The clothes 'never found' weren't found because they were the clothes worn by the 'mystery man' , not Scott. As to bags being unloaded, there is no credible evidence that was Scott unloading them. You've been suckered in by Wishart's cherry picked 'evidence' There's no credible evidence Ben and Olivia were ever on Scott's boat, or ever even met him. Don't forget Scott's boat was subject to the most intensive forensic search, yet no blood, body fluids, or signs Ben and Olivia were ever on it, apart from two hairs, found in a lab.