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‘No obvious way forward’ for convicted murderer Scott Watson

Convicted murderer Scott Watson was refused parole because he is still someone who is “capable of the callous and calculated murder of two strangers without any form of risk-based rehabilitation”.

Watson, who was convicted in 1999 of murdering friends Olivia Hope and Ben Smart after a New Year’s Eve party in the Marlborough Sounds, was denied parole for the fourth time last month.

Parole Board chairperson Ron Young said in the written decision released today that “there does not seem to be any obvious way forward” for Watson, who has been in prison for over two decades. Watson has always maintained his innocence.

READ MORE:
* Convicted murderer Scott Watson denied parole for the fourth time
* Scott Watson refused bail to help lawyers with appeal against convictions for Hope and Smart murders
* Scott Watson wants bail while he appeals against convictions for Hope, Smart murders

Ben Smart and Olivia Hope were last seen on New Year’s Day 1998. Their bodies have never been found.

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Ben Smart and Olivia Hope were last seen on New Year’s Day 1998. Their bodies have never been found.

Watson was denied parole because he had not undergone any risk-based treatment focused on his offending, the decision stated.

“These were … very unusual and very serious criminal offences. And so, the treatment response required an equally substantial intervention.

“To assess risk and provide rehabilitative treatment there needed to be a full understanding of the facts that gave rise to the offending, the reasons why Mr Watson offended, and an understanding of the drivers of his offending in detail.

“Once that was achieved then work could begin on the risks that arose from an understanding of the offending.”

Scott Watson leaves the Blenheim District Court in December 1998.

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Scott Watson leaves the Blenheim District Court in December 1998.

But the report said none of that rehabilitation work had been done.

“Watson really remains someone [who is], as the psychologist said, ‘capable of the callous and calculated murder of two strangers without any form of risk-based rehabilitation’.

“We agree with that assessment. That assessment is at the core of our view that he remains an undue risk.”

A psychological report on Watson found he had “limited awareness of his and others’ emotions” and a “high psychopathy score”, the decision stated.

Watson’s father, Chris Watson, told Stuff last month that his son was trapped in prison as he would always maintain his innocence.

“You’ve got to admit you’re guilty, or you don’t get out … It looks like he’s there forever.”

Scott Watson on the yacht Mina Cornelia about 10pm on New Year's Eve, just before he went ashore to Furneaux Lodge.

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Scott Watson on the yacht Mina Cornelia about 10pm on New Year’s Eve, just before he went ashore to Furneaux Lodge.

The Parole Board report said that because Watson’s family believed he was innocent, the amount of support they could offer him was limited.

“Watson does not have a safety plan. He has not identified his high-risk situations and so the family cannot be informed of those high-risk situations so that they can keep an eye on Mr Watson’s conduct informed by his high risks,’’ Young wrote.

“While we accept that the family will do their best, their best will inevitably be limited by the lack of a proper safety plan and a lack of risk-based rehabilitation.”

The Parole Board will consider Watson’s case again in October 2023.

Hope, 17, and Smart, 21, disappeared after attending a party at Furneaux Lodge in the Marlborough Sounds on New Year’s Day, 1998. Their bodies have never been found.

Watson had been at the lodge after sailing there on his yacht, Blade.

Two hairs, later said to be from Hope, were found on a blanket when his yacht was seized by police.

Last year, retired High Court Judge Sir Graham Panckhurst recommended Watson’s case be reconsidered by the Court of Appeal, which the justice minister and governor-general agreed to.

The appeal case will begin on August 31 next year.

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