Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Scott Watson innocent in Kiwi language.

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.


  1. Hey. They believed the secret witnesses but didn't believe the honest members of the public?

  2. Some questions from a correspondent. Anyone know the answers, or the details of the search of The Blade.

    'A few questions spring to mind ….
    How many total hairs did she find in the first search vs the second search vs the 3rd search.
    Were the blonde hairs found together or were they on different parts of the blanket?
    What was her method for collecting hairs from the blanket? For example did she divide the blanket into grids and use an eyeglass of some sort to find the hairs?Did she photograph the hairs on the blanket before removing them?Were other hairs also found on the blanket during her 3rd search?Where was the blanket stored between searches ? Why did she allow the plastic bag containing hairs from the brush to get anywhere near the blanket? Long blonde hairs would surely stand out on the blanket compared to the many short dark hairs that she found, what is her explanation for missing them in the first 2 searches.
    It all seems so dodgy to me.'

    1. To answer your questions only 1 thing needs to be said. The blanket was not where the blond hairs were found.All hairs were removed from the blanket and placed in an evidence bag early in the investigation. The blond hairs were 'found' when the bag was once again (the third time) emptied on the bench and the hairs searched through, that was on the bench that hair from Olivia's hair brush had been examined on that same day.

    2. Here's a response from the original questioner.

      'Ok, so not off the blanket, but out of an evidence bag.
      Sorry but all I have is more questions….

      What was the inventory of hairs at the 1st count, the 2nd count and the 3rd count ?
      What was her method for counting them?eg did she put them into little groups of 10 for easy counting? Did she put them into groups by color? Did the the other hair colors also change in number at each count ? Was count 1 the same as count 2 ?
      Was the only difference between count 3 and 2, the addition of the blonde hairs ?
      How did she empty the evidence bag to ensure that all the hairs had come out.Did she thoroughly check that the bag was empty each time she did a count?
      Did she wear a hair net to stop her own hairs getting into the mix?
      Did everybody else in the room also wear a hairnet?
      How big was the counting table? What color was it? What light did she use?Was a fan or air conditioning operational or windows open at the time ?Was there a lot of other hustle & bustle in the room at the time of counting?Any photographs of the lab ?
      Was there an inventory of hairs from the bag with the slit in it ?If so did anybody check if it was missing 2 hairs ?

      I guess only the forensic scientist could answer these .'

    3. I wish she would, or at least agree that her testing methods, and safety of those against contamination, while being accepted at the time don't pass muster these days because of current recognised contamination hazards. I'd like to know how it was taken off the yacht and how it was transported.

    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Now the questioner asks a very obvious question that may not have been thought of previously:

    'If the hair examiner has notes from the 1st count and 2nd count which shows that the counts were the same, then if the 3rd count is also the same, except for the addition of 2 blonde hairs, then that would pretty much prove that contamination of the evidence has occurred.'

  4. After the last question I replied that 'the counts should have happened,' that is after each 'search' of the hairs. The Questioner responded as follows:

    I doubt if they were that thorough.The standard of forensic testing in this country is appalling .Like the report by Dr Walsh on the Robin Bain thumb marks- just utterly ridiculous.Yet the whole system relies on them, people’s lives get shattered because of some poor lab procedure.

    1. I agree. But I see a way forward. There are a minimum of 3 outstanding murder cases where the convictions are questionable. Starting, Tamihere, Watson and Lundy. All these convictions coincide with an out of touch Appeal Court which had 3 out 3 convictions overturned by the Privy Council.

      Putting Tamihere aside because it is currently before the Court with an explosive potential possibly worse reading that the PC Judgements in Bain, Pora and Lundy.

      Focusing only on Watson and Lundy, both of these cases, like many of the others, have evident forensic evidence shortcomings. The tests by Miller break all the forensic rules yet only 1 appeal Court Judge appreciated that. The hair evidence in Watson said to be that which holds the case together is absolutely abysmal as is shown above. I think both men have to concentrate on what is claimed to be the strongest evidence against them to show that not only were the forensics disciplines applied woeful and amateurish but that forensic standards are much improved now and that the Crown case can no longer rest on its laurels, all the forensic testing procedure need to be reevaluated according to current standards - and if coming up short retested using all the new protocols adopted in Jurisdictions such as Britain and America. If the Government and The Crown believe in their science then let it be tested again.