Scott Watson speaks out

  • 16/11/2015
Ben Smart and Olivia Hope (File)
Ben Smart and Olivia Hope (File)

The man convicted of murdering Ben Smart and Olivia Hope in the Marlborough Sounds almost 18 years ago claims he never met, or even laid eyes on the pair.

Scott Watson told North & South journalist Mike White in an exclusive interview that covers 17 pages of the latest edition of the magazine that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and police picked him out.

"I think it was because I had a criminal record, and I was [at Furneaux Lodge] alone and I left alone. I told them that. Basically I was an easy target for them. I was the easiest person that they could pick."

Mr Smart, 21, and Miss Hope, 17, disappeared on New Year's Day on 1998 after they were last seen boarding a yacht moored in Endeavour Inlet off Furneaux Lodge. Their bodies have never been found.

Watson is serving a life sentence with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years and at his first hearing in front of the Parole Board in July was declined parole because he was assessed with "a very high risk of future reoffending".

The 44-year-old says in the interview, granted only after a judge ruled a ban on it by Corrections was unreasonable, that he knew nothing of the missing pair.

"I don't know where Ben and Olivia are.

"I've never met them, never seen them. They definitely never came on my boat and I definitely didn't murder them.

"And they've basically dumped me in jail for half my lifetime, it must be coming up, for something I haven't done.

"It's destroyed my family and my life."

Mr White said the interview with Watson in Rolleston Prison over three days in October had done nothing to ease his "enormous disquiet about this case and the many, many flaws and holes in it".

Watson, who has maintained his innocence had an appeal against his conviction turned down by the Court of Appeal in 2000, an application to the Privy Council was rejected in 2003 and was denied a royal pardon by the Governor-General in 2013.

The magazine is on sale today.

NZN