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Murder Most Foul #5 – Scott Watson

  • Updated – January 2018 – see end

Scott Watson who was convicted in May 1999 of the murders of Ben Smart and Olivia Hope on his boat Blade on 1 January 1998. The bodies of Smart and Hope have never been found.

Watson is serving a life sentence with a non-parole period of 17 years and is expected be released on 8 July 2016

On New Year”s Eve 1997, young holiday-makers Ben Smart and Olivia Hope dissapeared from a party at Furneaux Lodge in the Marlborough Sounds, and were last seen boarding a mystery yacht with a mystery man.

The boat that they were last seen boarding was described by witnesses as a 40ft wooden ketch (two masted yacht) with high freeboard. When Scott was photographed earlier in the evening before going ashore, he had short hair and was obviously clean shaven. His yacht “Blade’ is a 26ft steel sloop (single masted yacht) with very low freeboard.

Doubts are explored here : http://www.freescottwatson.org/northandsouth/northandsouth.pdf

However you’ll find assertions of guilt along the lines of “I found the DNA evidence along with the fact Watson scrubbed his yacht so thoroughly it was cleaner than a hospital ward the main indicators of guilt.”

Couple of things.

  • No bodies were found and are unlikely to ever be found
  • There appears to be some level of doubt about the ‘evidence’ of hair and DNA
  • There appears to be confusion over timelines, and locations
  • Scott Watson, I’ve always had the understanding, is\was a bit weird

I also have a memory of a conversation with someone who asserted that he’d probably be in jail for something else if it wasn’t for this.

As an aside: Watson married Coral Branch in Paremoremo Prison in 2004. They separated in 2007.

It’s getting close to release time for Scott Watson. No closure would have been served to the parents, or friends of Ben and Olivia.

Scott Watson may well be free in a couple of years, however will always be walking with a shadow over him, and a bunch of people who will want answers and the elusive closure.

Scott Watson may also not be released, or released with some severe and strict conditions. It depends on how much ‘remorse’ he shows, and his likelihood of re-offending.

It’ll be an interesting time, we’re not known in NZ to let a sleeping dog lie, and living in the spotlight might have some interesting side effects.


Updated January 2018.

  • Watson is still in Jail, has has been refused Parole a number of times
  • The NZME tam have released a podcast in 3 parts on this;, Chasing Ghosts : Murder in the Sounds.
    • This series of ‘investigative journalism” does not interview Scott Watson
    • It does not explore his background of 40-somtheing previous convictions
    • Does not really investigate much really
    • labours the point that the evidence of the last three people to see Smart and Hope and the mystery man have been ignored
  • The elusive Ketch is still elusive
  • The Mystery Man is still a mystery

The upshot though is that despite appeal and further appeals there is no new evidence, or ability to show tainted evidence in this case.

And finally …..

There’s one question, one question … it is a fundamental one: how did Scott Watson get back to his yacht Blade, moored off Furneaux Lodge, just before 4am on New Year’s Day, 1998



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