Father of convicted double-murderer Scott Watson 'pessimistic' ahead of Parole Board hearing

The father of convicted double-murderer Scott Watson is pessimistic about his chances of release ahead of his third parole board hearing.

Watson will make his latest bid for freedom before the Parole Board in Christchurch on Thursday. His first two applications were denied.

The now-49-year-old was convicted of the murders of Ben Smart and Olivia Hope, whose bodies were never found, in the Marlborough Sounds in 1998.

Smart and Hope were last seen getting off a water taxi in the early hours of January 1, 1998. Watson has always denied killing the pair and is currently awaiting a date to appeal his case. In June, Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy referred Scott's murder convictions to the Court of Appeal. 

That came after a former High Court Judge reviewed his application for the royal prerogative of mercy.

Chris Watson, Scott's dad, says he's counting more on that upcoming appeal as opposed to parole. Chris has always believed his son was innocent.

"The appeal; we're still awaiting a date - so that's sort of up in the air at the moment. Once we get a date, then the work starts," he told Newshub.

"How much or what that [appeal] will have on the Parole Board decision is yet to be seen. I'm pessimistic about the Parole Board.

"That said, it's a chance - and he can't give up a chance."

Chris said his son just wants to get married and have his life back.

"My own feeling is that I'd shrug my shoulders and walk away at the whole thing and count on the Appeal Court which, once again, is only a chance. 

"That's [the Appeal Court] actually the only way to get his life back - he's got a life sentence and parole means his chain can be pulled and [put] back in prison at any time. Parole's not an option really."

In June, Massey University legal expert Chris Gallavin told Newshub referring the case to the Court of Appeal was the right move. 

"I don't believe there is enough evidence for us to reliably say that beyond reasonable doubt, those charges have been proved against him - I just don't believe there's enough evidence there for us to hand-on-heart say this is a sound and safe conviction." 

Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesperson Jess McVicar said they'd asked then-Justice Minister Andrew Little to ensure Smart and Hope's families were well-supported.

Scott Watson.
Scott Watson. Photo credit: Newshub.

"Every time an appeal is made, it just brings everything back - it brings it right back from the day the crime was committed."

Initially, Watson's plea to the Court of Appeal in 2000 was unsuccessful, as was his bid for an appeal to the Privy Council.