The biggest surprise for me watching the TV1 show Doubt on Scott Watson last night were the yachties. Like everyone with an interest in the case I had heard all the controversy about the Ketch that Guy Wallace dropped Olivia Hope and Ben Smart off for the night. I had heard about the 'stepping up' rather than 'stepping down' across as it would have been had the group been alighting to Scott Watson's yacht The Blade.
But I had never heard Guy Wallace give his account with all the small detail which gave him credibility, nor had I understood fully the police attitude to him for not 'changing his story.' Nor heard from Scott's father and sister as to their experiences during the inquiry but mostly the explanations about the alleged cleaning of The Blade allegedly after Olivia and Ben's disappearance where it was revealed Scott and his sister had cleaned The Blade before the night the couple went missing. I had read about the claims that Scott had painted his boat after the disappearances but not that it was painted the with a stripe, the same or similar colour to that of the mystery ketch - both important facts that Ian Wishart omitted in his recent book Elementary.
Suddenly Guy Wallace and Roz McNally became real people with a measure of their personalities, honesty and indeed decency being displayed - the very same 2 witnesses used and coerced by police before they spoke out after the trial and said there identifications of SW had been incorrect, that they had either been misled or duped by police causing them to be mistaken. Both honest people whom it would be possibly easier for them to lie now rather than be tormented by something out of their control - but that is the people they are, average Kiwis with a sense of right and telling the truth.
However the TV1 show Doubt introduced by Chris Gallivan had more cats to let out of the bag which to me were an even more shocking than the character attacks against Guy and Roz if only by sheer size of the numbers from the New Zealand yachting fraternity. New Zealand is a group of isolated islands populated for less than a 1000 years, everything about New Zealand relates to the sea it bought our first inhabitants, it was and remains our passage to the world of commerce and livelihoods. New Zealanders are water people possibly second to none. New Zealand is a leading yachting nation, if not the leading yachting nation. New Zealanders excel in all sports related to boats, kayaks, yachts, etc designing and building. Generations of New Zealanders grow up with associations with the water, love to look at boats or any activity on the water as though doing so releases something inside of them, something like an affinity not just to the water and boats but the passage of the water and the sea that leads to a sense 'of community in isolation.'
When on the water New Zealanders change, it almost as though a clock turns back, respect for the water and it's dangers are foremost, secondly, would surely be for others sharing the water - New Zealanders naturally look out for one another when it comes to water. On the water there is no distinction, a person one meets might be a freezing worker or a doctor, an observer would be hard pressed to tell. Worker or doctor act or dress no differently to one another, both look out for others on the water and are ready to lend a hand without hesitation - meet an implied duty, watch out, and always wave. There is no hiding on the water or attempts to hide, no chance that help will not be offered or warnings given, all responsibilities are shared, often forcefully if required - each life on the water is precious. Of course there are exceptions and I am waxing lyrical somewhat but the sense of what I am writing about is real.
Just as the shock at hearing the many New Zealanders seen on the show Doubt were real as they were sharply brought into focus. These were people remaining upset 17 years after going to police in response to a call for help to find a double masted ketch. These were people that would, even with fear, help rescue others on the water, people who looked at passing vessels with keen interest, at every detail - they were salt of the earth boaties and yachties, some that wore clothes with paint marks on them and old sandshoes, others that wore the latest style of sunglasses and cut fine figures of fashion all treating one another the same just as the sea treats them with calmness and wild weather equally. Whilst I truly felt sorry for the Watson family, for the witnesses such McNally and Wallace who told the truth, the neighbour of the Watsons who refused to spy on them for police - I felt overwhelmingly sorry for those witnesses who did what was required of them as people who shared the water, who responded in a crisis and who were rubbished, not believed, told that they were either lying or mistaken.
I suppose that got to me as it caused me to remember as a child my father helping an Uncle build a boat, when for the first time I got the feeling of how New Zealanders committed to one another with boats and the water. Recalled how I later saw conversations on the water between boaties about where the fish were, or changes of weather, often talk about details of a launch or yacht, discovered that it was normal to wave out even to people you didn't know. The same people you would help, or who would help you in a heartbeat despite that you may never see them again or had not seen them before. Those people that saw a Ketch weren't lying and weren't mistaken. How can I know that? Simple, there were too many of them, they were too knowledgeable and they had no reason to be poking their noses above the stockades, they knew too much informed detail - they had seen something they could never forget, they backed up Guy Wallace's critical account as to where he dropped off the couple. They also, most unfortunately, were rubbish by police after having been asked to come forward. After watching Doubt we know this coincided with Rob Pope taking over the inquiry into the missing couple. Many will feel, like me, that as a helmsman for the truth he sucks.
Moving on to the end of the show I was disappointed Chris Gallivan, who had presented the show so well. who is also a Law Professor, specialising in criminal law - I think I heard him say, was without any ideas where the Watson case might now go. This after he so eloquently described the pre-conditioning the public and potential jurors got from Rob Pope which most certainly appears likely to have influenced the jury even if subconsciously. When after the show a commentator on a blog site wrote that the Jury would not have been influenced by the secret witnesses who claimed that Watson confessed to them. No one can know that. Explanations that the Jury would have been warned about accepting the evidence also don't cut the mustard, one of them has recanted that is what is important and that a Jury never heard that or had the opportunity to hear what Roz and Guy now say that they never identified Watson, that they were tricked by police or bullied. Scott Watson was never given a fair trial, nor was he given a fair hearing of his Application for the Royal Prerogative of Mercy, neither situations stand up under the NZ Bill of Rights, the Watson case is a travesty of Justice - those yachties were never heard from, not one of them (from what I know) because Rob Pope knew they were mistaken, despite that is actually not his decision to make that is a decision for a Jury to listen and observe from their own experiences.
The programme touched on the critical evidence of the 2 hairs said to have been found on a blanket taken off The Blade by police. There was an admission by the scientist that there was a possibility of contamination, something well known to a lot of New Zealanders and to the Jury, who also heard that the extremely long blond hairs were missed by police searching The Blade and also by the scientist who carefully searched the blanket and who only them found after a subsequent search, just like happened in 2 other cases of Miscarriages of Justice were evidence was found after first searches - Thomas and Bain. The show did not mention that the same day the hairs were 'found' police had brought a hair brush to the science lab which the sisters had used.
Also what the show didn't reveal was that the 2 hairs could have belonged to Olivia's sister as well and been the subject of innocent transfer, or indeed been planted like the Thomas shell case was and like the Bain glass lens was. The show didn't disclose what would have been unknown to the producers and writers - the following:
The document states that “microscopic hair comparison has been demonstrated to be a valid and reliable scientific methodology,” while noting that “microscopic hair comparisons alone cannot lead to personal identification and it is crucial that this limitation be conveyed both in the written report and in testimony.” In support of its conclusion that hair examination is valid and reliable, however, the document discusses only a handful of studies of human hair comparison, from the 1970s and 1980s. The supporting documents fail to note that subsequent studies found substantial flaws in the methodology and results of the key papers. PCAST’s own review of the cited papers finds that these studies do not establish the foundational validity and reliability of hair analysis.
The DOJ’s supporting document also cites a 2002 FBI study that used mitochondrial DNA analysis to re-examine 170 samples from previous cases in which the FBI Laboratory had performed microscopic hair examination. But that study’s key conclusion does not support the conclusion that hair analysis is a “valid and reliable scientific methodology.” The FBI authors actually found that, in 9 of 80 cases (11 percent) the FBI Laboratory had found the hairs to be microscopically indistinguishable, the DNA analysis showed that the hairs actually came from different individuals.
So first of all there is the chance that the 2 hairs might have been transferred accidentally from either sister or a donor they may have come into contact with that busy night. The chances that the hairs arrived on the blanket after the scientist's research are unknown to me statistically at this stage but I shall endeavour to find out. There are questions over the 'validity and reliable scientific methodology' both with the blanket handling and searches, and the 'sampling sources' there is also an '11% chance, possibly higher with other variables confirmed' that the hairs if not accidentally transferred did not belong to either sister. All of this and the 19 or so creditable sightings of a Ketch should have been before a Jury that had never possibly been influenced by Pope's media campaign of the alleged guilt of Watson before his trial.
.Scott Watson deserves a retrial. This Government has the power to recommend by way of the Governor General a referral to the Court of Appeal. Let's hear from the voice of science about the probability of those 2 hairs being sufficient for a guilty verdict balanced against the word or McNally and Wallace and all those people out on the water who saw a ketch.