15 Dec 2016

Scott Watson denied parole in latest attempt

4:54 pm on 15 December 2016

Marlborough Sounds double-killer Scott Watson has been denied parole and will not get another bid at freedom for four years.

Scott Watson in High Court.

Scott Watson - pictured in 2015 Photo: Pool / John Kirk-Anderson

Watson is serving a life sentence for the killing of Olivia Hope, 17, and Ben Smart, 21, in the early hours of New Year's Day in 1998.

Their bodies were not found.

Watson, 45, who has always maintained his innocence, had a parole hearing earlier this month. The Parole Board released its decision this afternoon.

He would not go before the board again until 2020. A psychologist recommended Watson needed "intensive treatment to mitigate his assessed very high risk of reoffending".

"At best there will likely be several years of treatment... before release on parole is a realistic possibility."

A Department of Corrections officer who knew Watson for a long time said there were "two Scotts", the board's report said.

One was "happy-go-lucky", the other was "very manipulative".

"These traits suggest the necessary treatment could take considerable time to work through."

Watson could apply for earlier reconsideration for parole if he felt there was a "significant" change in circumstances.

High risk of reoffending

Two psychologists assessed Watson, the Parole Board said.

One found his risks included "perceived sexual rejection, ruminations upon revenge, positive affect associated with inflicting pain and distress, and a disinhibition through alcohol intoxication".

Watson had received counselling from a private psychologist, which he had enjoyed.

Watson submitted that, although he had been imprisoned for 18 years, he was "no stranger to the community".

He submitted he had "ample opportunity" to mix with the public while he was a member of a community gang.

He had accommodation options and did not anticipate having trouble finding employment.

The board noted Watson's claim of innocence and his support from people including his partner, family members, journalists and strangers.

However, it did not determine guilt or innocence, it said.

"We do not share Mr Watson's confidence about the nature of his risk. Nor are we prepared to accede to [withheld's] plea to 'give him a chance'.

"The person who committed these crimes was a cold-blooded killer. His victims must have died in terrible circumstances. Mr Watson has been found to be that man beyond reasonable doubt," the board said.

Watson recently met with Ms Hope's father. They spoke together for about six hours. Mr Hope said after the meeting he was unconvinced Watson was innocent.

Watson's father said he was disappointed the decision on his son's second application for parole did not go in his favour.

Chris Watson said the board's decision defied logic.

"We thought he had a reasonable chance of getting parole. It looks like the taxpayer is going to pay another $80,000 a year for the next four years."


December 2016: Scott Watson is denied parole. He will not go before the Parole Board again until 2020.

November 2016: Olivia Hope's father, Gerald Hope, meets Scott Watson behind bars in two meetings. North and South journalist Mike White attends both.

2015: The Department of Corrections gives approval for White to interview Watson in Rolleston Prison. Watson tells White he is innocent and that he feels police pursued him despite there being no evidence.

July 2015: Watson comes up for parole for the first time. It is declined. A report from a psychologist to the Parole Board says Watson has a very high risk of violent reoffending. Watson and his supporters complain to the Psychologists Board about the report.

May 2015: Watson goes to High Court in Christchurch to challenge a Corrections decision to ban him from an interview with White. Justice Dunningham rules Corrections should reconsider.

2010: The Independent Police Conduct Authority, acting on complaints by journalist Keith Hunter and Watson's father, Chris, finds the police inquiry was reasonable and rational, apart from three aspects that had no significant bearing on the outcome.

2013: The Governor-General declines Watson's application to be pardoned.

2012: Watson is allowed out of jail to visit his sick mother. He attends her funeral in Christchurch, entering and exiting the chapel through a back door.

2003: The Privy Council finds no grounds for a further appeal.

2001-2002: Watson fails drug tests behind bars, though this is not made public until 2015.

1999: Watson is convicted of the killings after a trial. He is sentenced to life imprisonment with a 17 year non-parole period. The Court of Appeal rejects his appeal.

1998: While in custody awaiting trial for murder, Watson assaults a police officer and a fellow prisoner.

1 January, 1998: Ben Smart, 21, and Olivia Hope, 17, go missing from the Endeavour Inlet in the Marlborough Sounds. They are last seen boarding a yacht in the early hours. Their bodies are not found.

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