Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Silent victims in Watson?

It takes some consuming, it's an outright horror. Imagine yourself ringing police in an emergency, or in the event of responding to a police plea to members the public for support to find or report sightings when the young couple Ben Smart and Olivia Hope went missing, only to be ignored because it was claimed to have be sorted out. Even sure that you had sighted them, or photographed them or the ketch it is believed they were taken captive upon the Antares. That's where the following 3 part video takes a viewer, real life under the microscope, a vessel and people tracked across the sea by a formidable team of people with experience unable to be matched by NZ Police placed under restrictions by the officer in charge, the now retired Rob Pope.

If like me your geographical absorption of the Nelson and the sounds area is not strong then these videos take you to the ketch entering and departing waters and anchored out from the Furneaux Lodge in the early evening before the couple would go missing along with a man and the distinctive ketch. The sense for me was that I was seeing the possible abduction that was part of Ben and Olivia's disappearance in clear focus but could not do anything to help. If I got such a  feeling from the well contructed videos shorn of any emotion and very little speculation, such were the repetitive nature of the ketch sightings, then it's hard to imagine the effect on those original witnesses who never had their day in Court to tell their truth, and not one manufactured for them and the public at large.

What's more the ketch you would see was massive in size, around 50 feet long, twin masts and unmistakable because of a blue stripe running through brass portholes. A vessel that was a sight to behold, which would first draw attention because it was a beauty to embrace. It was only with later sightings when a couple were seen on the ketch still in the same waters that some witnesses expressed surprise or concern at the awkward way the couple sat in the stern of the ketch, how they never stood and appeared not to move their arms that the beauty of the ketch would have begun to look like a quivering nightmare, bold, but dark, emerging from the facile deceptive beauty.

The video, titled "The Mystery Ketch", early on shows the identikit picture of the mystery man someone with longish hair unlike the short hair style of Scott Watson now in prison for 2 decades after the ketch was allowed to slip away. The almost drone of the narrator, no voice inflections, no voice projections just dull with no measure of horror as he explains as the production shows a mug shot of one Mike Wallace, sex offender and longtime criminal, the striking resemblance between the identikit picture and Wallace, a man who crewed on boats and who was an experienced sailor.

The narrator has the name of the ketch, The Anatres, his team, Maritime Research Group NZ, tracked when it likely came into NZ waters and where it was seen heading toward Furneaux lodge and when it left. They knew of it's then recent sale for cash. They knew of it's temporary Kiwi skipper (whose name spelling was not clear to this listener) when it was in NZ waters, a friend of Wallace, both unsavoury types according to the investigators.

"The Mystery Ketch" is in 3 parts and whatever views one may hold on the Watson case the videos are a must see. 2 years of research went into the making of them. I have no idea how many individuals formed the Maritime Research Group NZ but their work is clearly thorough and challenging. It demands a Governmental response. Perhaps for the first time, and I say this not forgetting for a second Keith Hunter's well known research and work on the Watson, that the video achieves something unique it takes Scott Watson and his wee boat right out of the picture. It places what could have been Ben and Olivia on the high seas in troubling and surreal circumstances. It potentially places the couple in the company/control of gang members entering the Federal Hotel in the days after their disappearance with Olivia calling out to a friend to help her. It traces a kombi very likely linked to The Antares.

I've written about the boating community before, their inherent eye for detail of other vessels, their interest in all things nautical. They have been effectively shut out from the case, disregarded by police and not fully appreciated or known by Watson's defence. Yet "The Mystery Ketch" shows how reliable these witnesses are, how fine the detail of their reports are, how they are backed up with photos and a continuity of events. Not random sightings, but sightings in sequence of The Antares being seen.

For me, I doubted the inherent horror that the couple may have become victims of members of a possible crime group who kept them alive for some days, sometimes in public view. That stuck out as critical to me and I retain doubts about that. The type of doubt that could have influenced a Jury one way or the other. That is the point. These sightings weren't for police note books or record sheets, they were for the Jury. Though more than that they were for the peace of mind of at least 3 families forever changed, The Watson's, Hope's and Smart's. In a larger way they were for the idea of community, watching for one another on the 1 hand and the right to a fair trial and truth on the other.

Police have told the public that the mystery ketch does not exist. That may be correct, but if the public are told the ketch does not exist then they are due an explanation of a ketch people did see and did identify who they say was a couple on board who looked like the missing pair. A large part of the mystery Ketch theory can be easily proved or disproved by listening to the witnesses that saw it, a Jury could then decide on all the evidence not the evidence the police chose to present and which in many aspects has since fallen apart, but also the evidence police chose to ignore because 'they had their man' as they told many of the concerned witnesses.

Of course it not the job of police to decide who 'their man' is, that is the job of the Jury hearing all the relevant evidence including that which points to Watson's potential innocence. I mention here witnesses referred to in the videos, they took photos of what most likely was The Antares  supplied them to the police who lost them. Yes, lost them. If they weren't ignoring evidence they didn't like they were helpfully losing it, or hiding it from counsel and the public. There is a photo that survived and which the Maritime Research Group NZ were able to get some kind of copy of, they duly magnified this port quality reproduction of a photo of a small boat that was tied to a wharf with a woman sitting in the stern which well have been Olivia Hope after her disappearance.

While the war police have waged against Watson and his family a war has been waged also against honest and trustworthy Kiwis who did the right thing but were ignored. It's a little too easy just to suggest that was tough and police were doing their job. But in fact police were not doing their job, they were restrained from doing so by the orders of the Rob Pope who didn't want to know about any other possibilities than what he had decided. That is not fair or just in anyway. It's also a downright dangerous precedent where police do not respond to murder or abduction claims, the very least police needed to do was a complete and thorough investigation of the alibi that was being presented by 100s of people completely un-associated with the case apart from having the misfortune of being ignored when many thought they could be possibly helping save Olivia and Ben, or indeed had information as to what happened to them. Those people will not just have gotten over that, many of them will regret the helplessness which befell them, in some cases the outright lies which were spread against them for being enemies of the noble corruption 'cause.'

While the following link is not directed specifically to "The Mystery Ketch" scrolling down will find the 3 links in the right hand column. It is eye opening and disturbing on the one hand and on the other a major disappointment that the Justice system has been firmly arraigned for breaching the standards expected in a democracy with respect for the Law. Something must be done about this because it is fundamental to not only the rights of the Watsons, the Hopes and Smarts - but all New Zealanders, including that special group who answered a call for help but who were scorned and remained scorned in their disillusionment of being ignored in a most telling way. People who are not enemies of the police, undesirables or trouble makers but the very people that come to the rescue of others and do not turn away from evil.

I suggest any readers should send the links to their MPs along with a note of their feeling about this whatever they may be. Some will feel that this evidence should have been heard 20 years ago but must be heard now for the sake of a whole lot of people including you and I.


  1. Shame the three videos turned out to be as accurate as your blog posts...

    1. How is Ian these days? He seems to be feeling some pressure and is again trying to drag the argument away from the alleged murder scene. No evidence of the couple ever being aboard, or dropped off there. Try a little harder.