The ketch doesn’t exist. —Inspector Pope on the boat that water taxi driver Guy Wallace delivered the young couple to on 1 January 1998 (The Police actually received information of about one hundred sightings of the two-masted vessel round the Sounds and Golden Bay.)
Stitching up the suspect
An opinion piece by Roger Childs
The disappearance of Olivia Hope and Ben Smart in the Marlborough Sounds was the big news story of 1998. Now 22 years later, the case against Scott Watson, accused of their murder, is going back to the Court of Appeal.
Watson was the main suspect for the police from early on in the investigation, and he was subsequently tried and sentenced, for a crime he didn’t commit.
This is possibly the worst case of police duplicity in our history. Pope and his team–
~ twisted, and in some cases falsified, the evidence to fit their prime suspect
~ ignored possible leads and evidence linking a mystery man to the crime
~ harassed Watson family members and bugged their homes
~ pressured witnesses into changing their stories
~ manipulated the media.
A 2016 televised docudrama Doubt: The Scott Watson Case (viewable here), showed up what people, who had studied the case closely, had known from the start. Then a detailed article in the January 2017 edition of North and South provided further reinforcement of Watson’s innocence. Hopefully the new Appeal Court proceedings will see justice done at last.
One of the worst features of this case, is that the person(s) responsible for the abduction got away with it, and may well be living in Australia or beyond.
No substantive evidence
Scott Watson was not a “Mr Nice Guy” and at the time of the disappearance of the young couple, already had a significant police record, mainly from his teenage years. He freely admits that was a little shit when he was younger.
He was at Furneaux Lodge on the fateful night, had a single-masted sloop moored there and was involved in some boorish behaviour during the New Year’s Party.
He did leave early the following morning, but could not have had the young couple on board because they had been delivered by Guy Wallace to a two-masted ketch the night before.
A large number of people testified that a “mystery man” was present at the party and that he climbed up on to his ketch along with the couple.
The police pressurized Guy Wallace to change his evidence, but the water taxi driver, and four other people in Wallace’s boat, were adamant that it was definitely a ketch that Ben Smart and Olivia Hope were delivered to.
A large ketch becomes a small sloop!
In the weeks that followed, there were over a hundred sightings of a two-masted ketch, and the people who saw it duly reported their evidence to the authorities. Some claim they actually saw the two young people on board.
Many commented, as did Guy Wallace, about the brass work around the portholes and the blue strip of paint along the outside. (Watson’s sloop had no portholes and was partly painted red at the time.)
But the police were not interested in other lines of inquiry, as they were convinced that they had their man. Their case was built on the young couple leaving the waters off Furneaux Lodge in Watson’s small one-masted sloop “Blade”, not on an inconvenient two-masted ketch.
The police constantly said they had no interest in the ketch and Inspector Pope even claimed it didn’t exist!
This is equivalent to a hundred witnesses saying that someone was run over by a large four door Mercedes, and the authorities saying No, it was a two door Volkswagen.
Beyond belief and reasonable doubt
North and South’s in-depth article put a strong case for Scott Watson’s innocence. This investigative piece emphasised that:
~ it was the ketch rather than a sloop that should have been the focus of inquiries
~ there were some dodgy witnesses involved in the court case , including a secret prison witness who later retracted his story
~ there had been pressure put on others to change their stories, based on being shown a photo of a dishevelled Watson taken later while he was in custody. (On New Year’s Eve at Furneaux Lodge, Watson had tidy short hair and police did have another photo of him on the night.)
Two key witnesses at the trial were unnamed prisoners, who testified that Watson confessed to them in jail that he had committed the crime. (Watson has always maintained his innocence.)
One of these “secret witnesses” later admitted that he had lied and the other was bribed by the authorities.
Basically there was no solid evidence that Watson was the abductor: he had no motive, no access, no weapon, no bodies, no scratches and was on the wrong boat.
The crown case was based on very flimsy threads such as:
~ two hairs, that might have been Olivia’s, on a blanket in Watson’s boat. These were only discovered after the prosecution insisted on the forensic expert having a second look at the evidence. How could she fail the first time, to miss the two fair hairs among the black, which her eagle eyes would have searching for?
~ scratches on the hatch cover of Blade that were claimed to be Olivia’s work attempting to escape. However, it was explained that the scratches went right to the edge of the cover which was inaccessible when closed.
~ Watson repainting his boat early in 1998.
People watching the 2016 docudrama, who were not in New Zealand at the time of the case or who had not studied it, would have been incredulous about the outcome of the trial.
No-one saw the couple getting on Watson’s boat, but a large number of people saw them get into the water taxi heading for the ketch, and five testified that the two young people actually climbed on to that boat with an unknown long-haired man.
To have abducted the pair, Watson would have had to come back from his boat and entice Olivia and Ben off the ketch!
The Police and the prosecution were in a world of fantasy and Justice Mahan’s comment from the Erebus inquiry comes to mind: “… an orchestrated litany of lies.”
A miscarriage of justice
Scott Watson had been in trouble with the police many times in the 1980s and1990s, and seemed like an obvious suspect. However, on the basis of the evidence outlined above, he should have been quickly eliminated as the probable perpetrator of the crime.
However, the police were under a lot of pressure from the media and the public to come up with a culprit for the crime of abducting the two students.
As Olivia’s father Gerald said: The police were out to get their man, we were out to get the man, everybody was focusing on the conviction and they did what it took to do it.
This was a shocking case of getting the evidence, by fair means or foul, to fit the suspect. Watson didn’t have a motive, the opportunity or the access to the young couple who were on a different boat at the time.
Only one person knows for sure what happened to Olivia Hope and Ben Smart, and that is the mystery man who got away with the crime.
One telling element of the docudrama was that the police were not prepared to take part and justify their findings. For them the case is closed; end of story.
But this story will not go away until a man who has been wrongfully imprisoned for 20 years is exonerated. Hopefully, that will happen at the Court of Appeal later in the year.
“We’re pleased to report that following the reserve licence public notification period and no objections having been received, and all the other requirements being finalised in the coming week, the Market will now be in a position to restart from Saturday 4 July.”
So tell all your friends to come along and help contribute to these traders’ livelihoods!
What no political party talks about [except one] … lending you non existent money (credit) at interest … governments (that are corporations in fact) borrowing from private banks that you pay interest on. Important info. EWR
by Geoffrey Churchman
Although it’s often not the case with those who sell new books, one thing you can be sure of with a second hand/antiquarian bookseller is that they have a keen interest in and good knowledge of books.
This 99-minute documentary from the New York Film Festival of the world of those who trade in rare books (mostly in New York, but a few elsewhere) will appeal to bibliophiles, and those who wonder why people become bibliophiles. As one myself and someone who made a living out of creating books in the publishing industry for some 30 years, it confirms a lot of what I already knew, but I still gained insights from this enjoyable behind the scenes look at the specialist retailers of New York.
There are two separate markets for books — one being those who want them for their respository of knowledge and creativity, the other being those who collect books as objects. They aren’t mutually exclusive of course, but the primary customers for rare books are in the second category. Dealers are there to earn a living, but you wonder how much they are avid collectors and compete with their customers by keeping a lot of what they acquire.
Opening scenes are of the many stands in the New York Antiquarian Book Fair in a suitable character-full building from a past age. Also in a past age, bookstores lined 4th Avenue in an area known as “Book Row.” Today there is only one of them left: The Strand, which was founded in 1929. The oldest remaining NYC bookstore is the Argosy on East 59th Street, operated by the three daughters of Louis Cohen who opened the store in 1925. Their ownership of the building is the reason it has stayed in business; despite plenty of realtor interest in buying the building.
The viewer doesn’t just see shops, but warehouses, personal apartments, offices, and storage units full of thousands of books. Examples of some less usual and valuable books are presented and the factors that determine their value.
Other elements presented are some of the classic movies that have featured rare book dealers to one youngish woman who became well-known from her appearances on the TV reality show Pawn Stars set in Las Vegas — Rebecca Romney.
The place of the book in culture is also given attention including examples of very public book banning by totalitarian regimes such as the burning by the Nazis in 1933 of books by ethnically or politically undesirable authors.
The big issue which has dominated the whole industry for about 25 years now is what future exists for printed books? The film addresses the question and there is a clear dichotomy of opinions by interviewees between pessimists and optimists.
The figures quoted in the film — a decline from 368 bookstores in New York City in the 1950s to 79 in 2018 — demonstrates the effect of the Internet and indicates that the physical book industry is in sharp decline, which it is, but there are scenes showing predominately 20-somethings reading printed books on the Subway and shunning the smartphones that have become a blight among those in older demographic groups.
When it it comes to opportunties to experience older worthwhile books in Waikanae outside of personal collections, in the absence of a proper library the only one at the moment is the annual Lions Bookfair which gives everyone to opportunity to acquire a few or many for minimal outlay. The movie should have the effect of encouraging a visit to that at the least.
The Booksellers is currently screening at the Shoreline Cinema.
by Christopher Ruthe
No, it’s not a literary award. The $600 million Special Provincial Growth Covid Fund was announced on 3 June 2020. This is fast-tracked funding. The criteria are
The Criteria for the main PGF funding¹
The Government quite rightly had a concern to create employment and avoid large scale unemployment due to the Covid-19 Lockdown. These funds are to be given out before the election. The Fund website states the focus is getting grants approved “on the next two to six months”. The fund says projects will need to be contracted and underway as soon as possible. Rights under the Resource Management Act have been removed “to ensure projects can progress quickly”.
The Governments Rules result in the following:
- The loss of affected landowners to any right, or affected parties to object
- Totally secrecy where only PGF (and the applicant) can know the content of an application.
- The Fund’s duty to accept all “Facts” as true and accurate
- The Fund refusing to accept any evidence that could point to significant inaccuracies in the application
Facts emerging about the KCDC Gateway application
The Kapiti Coast District Council saw the Covid Fund as a great way to get partial funding for Guru’s Gateway. This Gateway is primarily a transit station allowing passengers to Kapiti Island to be bio-security checked in a shelter, rather than outside. A $4.46 million building is to be built on reserve land for commercial gain. KCDC provides the land for free.
KCDC filed the application, but refused to publish details of the application. The facts in this article have been sourced from KCDC records and leaked e-mails [see the originals below]. The article examines what KCDC has told the PGF and what the PGF cannot know because of the Ardern Government’s directives.
Jobs and need for a business case
The fund requires some evidence jobs will be created. KCDC has told PGF that two permanent jobs will be created, by personnel manning the facility. What PGF does not know is that ratepayers will be subsidizing these jobs at $77,000. pa, yet the Gateway threatens the financial ability of one of the two ferry companies, affecting 5 people with real jobs.
KCDC bolstered its application by saying the number of tourists visiting the Island would grow to 58,000, and with that number of visitors, the Gateway project is viable and requires no subsidy. KCDC asks the PGF to draw the inference 58,000 visitors will generate an unspecified number of jobs.
What KCDC did not say, and are “facts” the PGF refuses to know is that the figures are pure fiction. Firstly, the effect of Covid 19 on tourism is totally ignored. PGF has been told Kapiti is exempt from tourism downturn and the Island will have 30,000 visitors in 36 months. KCDC excluded from its application the fact given by a major ferry operator who had written,
“The assumption that we build a gate way and numbers will increase by 300% is absurd and shows an extreme lack of commercial acumen of the report writer. There have been small increase in numbers since 2007 some of which is in line with international tourism numbers.
…. for the foreseeable future with most our internationals American, English, German, Dutch and French [growth] is many years away. Coupled with a recession and a ….in expendable income surely these numbers must be seriously looked at if they are at the basis of the business analysis!”
(From: Glen Cooper : Sent: Tuesday, 26 May 2020 10:44 Subject: Kapiti Island Gateway-Kapiti Island Eco)
An advisor at PGF was spoken to and asked what the process was for ensuring the making of grants from the fund were based on facts, when it was known the Fund had been supplied with misinformation. That person was told it was impossible due to the Governments rules expressly forbidding the Fund from considering anything other than the information contained in an application.
As a result, PGF will make a decision in defiance of the fact that the “facts” it has been supplied with have been deliberately manipulated to create a false “as rosy a picture of the future as possible” [these being the words of a KCDC staffer, see the original below]:
“In order to make this investment fly at all we are going to, have to show growth and by some margin”. To make it fly KCDC said “Investment [by KCDC ratepayers], ongoing running and maintenance costs, are going to be a big investment. Of course we will try and justify that on increased visitation…we’re going to have to paint as rosy picture of the future as possible!”
The rosy picture painter realized that 58,000 visitors was so implausible even the PGF would not be taken in. Hence this was the next step:
“Taking the average growth in island visitors over the last 5 years³,and applying that to the next 5 years (optimistic in the current climate, granted) gets us to nearly 30,000 pa. While it is well shy of the theoretical 58,000 pa with product development such as Dawn and Twilight chorus trips, means it is possible.” [emphasis added].
The next step was to put to show the fund how it was possible to prove a genuine business case. The KCDC memo said if we got to 30,000 [visitors] pa. If 40% stayed a night [i.e. 40% of visitors to the Island would stay at Paraparaumu motels etc. overnight — a figure conjured up by the report writer and not supported from any data] If every person paid $200 a night [That is $400.00 for a couple]:
“That is $1.2 million back into the local economy, p.a.”
The PGF is forbidden from being told that evidence from accommodation websites indicate the average advertised nightly rate for accommodation for 2 people is $132.00 and not $400.00
The PGF is forbidden from being told currently 15% and not 40% of day tripping Island visitors stay overnight. Nor are they to know as a significant proportion of Island visitors are children on school trips.
The PGF is forbidden from being told the Dawn and Twilight trips to Kapiti Island mentioned by KCDC are inventions of Council staff and both ferry operates consider them unworkable currently, and a biosecurity building will make no difference.
The PGF is forbidden from being told that though the application from KCDC says all affected landowners were communicated with and were in favour, five landowners directly affected have made statements they were never contacted.
Abuse of legal process
In order to get their application in KCDC made application to itself for consent to the project, and accepted that application one week before Councillors met to decide if such an application would be made. The Mayor, whose project this is, ensured the majority were happy to be mere rubber stampers. This maneuver goes against the very heart of democracy, but so be it. (The PGF is forbidden from being told that).
The second abuse. The plans and applications were doctored so no one would be notified.
On 9 April 2020 a staffer wrote “I have just come from our first resource consent team meeting…The Tower is a problem. Its height requires resource consent and it is likely to raise objection. Athfield’s advice was to leave it out and keep it for phase 2….do the tower once the dust is settled”…Would this group be happy to remove the tower from the plan now and revisit as part of..stage 2”
The PGF is forbidden from being told the application for funding has been deliberately manipulated to ensure property owners are deprived of their RMA and other rights, and that there is an undisclosed stage 2 known only to the CEO and Mayor, and costing another $1.8 million — a figure that will cause a political storm.
“Visibility – PGF projects need to be visible to give people in regions confidence economic recovery is underway.”
People who thought that the idea of the Government spending in the provinces was to create genuine jobs have buried their heads in the sand. The PGF website is clarion clear the project need to be visible to create the illusion of economic health :“visible to give people in regions confidence economic recovery is underway.” Psychological illusion making is precisely what Jacinda has ordered and the PDF is delivering.
Illusions become delusions. Delusions are a well known symptom of mental disorder. Harvard states “Delusional disorder, previously called paranoid disorder, is a type of serious mental illness called a psychotic disorder.”
For those Kiwi’s that still adhere to the belief that we can only succeed if we apply reason to our decision making, the above facts may raise some alarm bells. For those who are firm believers in the Government’s written PGF policy that demands the making of psychological illusions of economic success, the disclosure of the PGF wanting to avoid facts will be nothing of concern.
In fact it is safe to surmise they will write off this journalist as a pre-Covid freak who deludedly believed hard facts mattered. “Swing with the transcendental moment man!”
So I am off to see my psychiatrist now.
- Jobs – investments must create immediate redeployment and new employment opportunities and income growth. This adjusted criteria will see investments in skills programmes, sectors and infrastructure which will support regional economies as they change in the wake of COVID-19.
Timelines – The special Resource Management powers made available during the recovery will be used to ensure projects can progress quickly.
Visibility – PGF projects need to be visible and active to give people in regions confidence that our social and economic recovery is underway.
- No references cited, or source identified
Below are extracts from e-mails sent by a KCDC staffer tasked with preparing the case for Guru’s Gateway to a number of parties including DOC, from whom they were obtained under the Official Information Act. Although they are Public Domain, because of the potential for reprisals by the Mayor and his CEO, we are not naming the author. —Eds
Jacinda Ardern is now the ‘poster politician’ of the world. She ‘crushed the curve’ and showed the world how to act ‘early and decisively’ to defeat this unprecedented threat to New Zealand and the world. It sounds good. It looks good. We can quite rightly be proud Kiwis leading the world. Or can we?
Underneath the daily COVID media circus, was it actually something very different? Was it in fact New Zealand’s darkest hour? Did Jacinda Ardern, under the direction of the United Nations and very powerful global financial and corporate influencers, just commit the most devastating attack on our nation’s sovereignty and freedom in our short history? Was this in fact Jacinda Ardern’s COVID Coup? If it was, what can the people of New Zealand now do about it? […]
(from the BFD)