Convicted murderer Scott Watson denied parole

Convicted murderer Scott Watson has been denied parole for the third time.

The now-49-year-old was convicted of the murders of Ben Smart and Olivia Hope who were last seen in the Marlborough Sounds in the early hours of January 1, 1998. Their bodies were never found.

Watson appeared in front of the Parole Board in Christchurch on Thursday morning dressed in a prison-issue tracksuit.

He appeared calm, composed, and measured during the meeting in which he had four of his family and friends in support.

Watson's lawyer Kerry Cook started the proceedings saying he had been in good conduct and behaved well during the past few years in prison, and argued he should be released.

He said Watson had a sound address to go to, family around him and support. Cook also assured Watson would not be an undue risk to the community and could be released with tight restrictions.

However the board has issues with Watson's attempts to address the risks with his parole.

Watson said he had seen a psychologist and he was looking forward to addressing the factors the parole board had raised but they had faced some issues.

Watson tried to record the treatments but the psychologist wasn't comfortable so their sessions stopped.

The parole board also heard there had been some issues with his continued denial of the offending.

Watson has always denied the murders, saying he never even met Smart and Hope.

He is currently awaiting a date to appeal his case, after Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy referred Watson's murder convictions to the Court of Appeal in June.

During the Parole Board meeting, Watson said that he had not been allowed to do a group treatment programme because it requires admitting an offence.

However the judge said there were other options Watson could have taken to address the risks and said he still needs to do the work, including finding a psychologist he could trust.

"I don't want you in prison for the rest of your life." 

Watson then addressed the panel saying he was asking to be released. He assured the board he was no risk to anyone, he'd had no misconducts for the last decade and had been in a steady relationship for the past 16 years. He said he had good family support, was willing to work, had met with the victims and was respectful and polite. He also said he wouldn't "go North, or speak to media" if he was released.

When asked by the board how his life has changed over the past four years, Watson said: "I'm almost 50 years old. I suppose I'm not as arrogant, suppose I'm more humble".

Watson's support people also addressed the board, saying he's "a good human", he's just got "a long road ahead".

The board then deliberated before announcing their judgement.

"It's a no to parole which perhaps won't surprise you," they said.

Watson told them he would be back again to ask for parole in one year - November 2021.