Convicted double-murderer Scott Watson denied bail ahead of 2022 appeal

Convicted double-murderer Scott Watson has been denied bail as he prepares to appeal his convictions next year.

Watson 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, who was setenced to life in prison and has spent 23 years behind bars, has always denied killing the pair and is preparing to appeal his case.

Watson was trying to get released on bail to prepare for that appeal but in a decision released on Monday, Justice Stephen Kos denied that request.

"A bail application is not an appropriate time to prejudge the merits of an appeal, particularly as the evidence on appeal has not yet been filed and Crown has not yet responded to it," said Justice Kos, the Court of Appeal president.

Watson's already been denied parole three times - partly because he refuses to admit guilt.

In June 2020, then-Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy referred Watson's murder convictions to the Court of Appeal. That came after a former High Court Judge reviewed Watson's application for the royal prerogative of mercy.

Watson's Court of Appeal hearing will likely take place in June next year.