21 Dec 2008

Deputy Commissioner cleared of making false statements in Sounds case

12:00 pm on 21 December 2008

A police investigation has cleared Deputy Police Commissioner Rob Pope of making false statements during the Sounds murder investigation.

Mr Pope was accused of lying so he could get a warrant to eavesdrop on Scott Watson, who was convicted in 1999 for the murders of Ben Smart, 21, and Olivia Hope, 17, in the Marlborough Sounds on New Year's Day 1998. Their bodies have never been found.

Watson is serving a life sentence in prison with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years.

In November 2003, Watson's father, Chris, complained that Mr Pope - then the officer in charge of the inquiry - made false statements in a sworn affadavit presented to the High Court in Wellington in February 1998.

Police on Sunday issued a report by Detective Inspector Ross Pinkham on the complaints.

He found that then-Detective Inspector Pope did not mislead the court and the accusation of swearing a false affadavit was not substantiated.

Mr Pinkham has apologised to Mr Watson for a four year delay in producing his report, which he admits is unacceptable.

The two reports will now be forwarded to the Independent Police Conduct Authority for further review.