TV Review: Doubt – The Scott Watson Case on TVNZ1

As an exercise in cinematography there were some great shots. As an exercise in investigative journalism, director Yvonne Mackay and presenter Chris Gallavin delivered no shots at all.

At a cost of a million dollars, Mackay reheated old material and succeeded in conning another generation of New Zealanders into believing double murderer Scott Watson is innocent.

Gallavin, a law professor, should have known  better. He perpetuated some of the biggest lies of all in this reviewer’s opinion. Here’s why.

The programme from the get go visually presented the mystery man as different from Watson, and they rode that horse to the finish line. The mystery man was pictured wearing a multicoloured bomber jacket, when the witness statements actually said he wore the same clothes as Watson and was the same height and hair style as Watson. There was no multicoloured jacket in the case.

Nor was the mystery man’s hair long and Scott’s short as portrayed in the movie. Watson’s own brother and sister in law, Tom and Trudy Watson, admitted in their police statements that when they saw Scott at the time his hair was “wavy…longer…down past his collar”. This discrepancy in the prime suspect’s portrayal was not addressed in Gallavin’s amateurish approach. No witness statements contrasting the Watson/Mystery Man similarities were highlighted.

The programme attempted to bamboozle the public with multiple ketch sightings, without bothering to cross reference these with the known movements of the Alliance.

Again, a one-hand clap for smoke and mirrors TV, but nothing for substance as there wasn’t any.

By the time Gallavin unquestioningly stated that Watson painted his boat at Erie Bay, it felt like the programme was a lost cause of untruths fronted by a useful idiot law professor who reminded me of the old adage, “those who can, do; those who can’t, teach”. The Watson repaint at Erie Bay, and in fact the entire Erie Bay trip, has been utterly debunked.

To go on national TV and stick to the Erie Bay story without reference to the controversy was utterly dishonest in my view, both from the director but especially the presenter.

I hope the paycheck was worth the sacrifice of integrity that Doubt: The Scott Watson Case, represents.

Ian Wishart is the author of three books on the Watson case, and is tonight presenting a free online webinar to go over the real evidence the documentary failed to cover. Free tickets to watch it online are available here


  1. Good one Witness – a very erudite and insightful post.

    It is no coincidence that most of Watsons country hick supporters come across as completely uneducated and a bit thick.

  2. Hi Ian, sorry to hear of your injured arm appreciate you getting your points across regardless, thanks, all good with me. I’m fascinated by this case and understand fully the points that you raise here and in the webinar.
    I have just obtained a copy of “Elementary” which I look forward to reading for more insight. Thanks for replying and posting my questions.

  3. While I have no doubt that Guy Wallace, Sarah Dyer and Hayden Morresey genuinely believe it was not Blade, I am also satisfied that they are provably wrong.
    Firstly, note Keith Hunter’s comment about the “deck” of the mystery ketch being at chest height. Hunter is not accurately quoting from court testimony here.
    This is what the witness Sarah Dyer really said at trial:
    “I know that when they reached up the height of the boat would have been around their chest areas.”
    There is no mention of the word “deck”, her comment was based on just what they were reaching up to—the hand rail—the height of the boat. We know this because Guy Wallace confirmed it:
    “When you say a railing do you mean a verticle element or a horizontal element … horizontal element. Of the rail above the deck, the safety rail … that’s correct.”
    In Sarah Dyer’s testimony, prosecutors wanted to be sure what she was measuring chest height against:
    “You mean when they stood up … on the Naiad, the floor of Naiad?” asked prosecutor Kieran Raftery.
    “ … yeah on the floor of the Naiad,” confirmed Dyer.
    What does this tell us? Something really, really, REALLY important:
    when the missing couple stood in the Naiad as they prepared to board the mystery boat, the handrail they were holding onto was at chest height. Keith Hunter got it wrong, it was not a chest-high deck, it was a chest high “boat”.
    So, how high was Scott Watson’s Blade?
    Detective Landreth carried out measurements: “While we were at Furneaux on the morning of 21st February 1998 I was able to take measurements showing the height of the
    deck and hand rail of “Blade” above the water line.
    “I also was able to take the measurements of the distance between the top of the pontoon of one of the Furneaux Lodge’s naiads and the water.
    “The distance from the waterline to the deck level of “Blade” was 54cm.
    “The distance from the waterline to the top of the hand rail around “Blade” was 117cm.
    “Both of these measurements were taken 24cm forward of the handrail stanchion that is immediately forward of dodger on the port side.
    “The height of the handrail (above the deck) varies slightly around the vessel but is generally between 650mm and 660mm in height.”
    So, the height of Blade as the Naiad pulled alongside (from the floor of the Naiad—sea level—to the top of the handrail) was 117cm.
    Chest height on an average person like Olivia.

  4. Ian I have injured my arm making it hard to type…so posts requiring lengthy elaobration and time are going to sink to the bottom of the queue because of logistics.

    You attended the webinar, but i don’t know whether you read books.

    The ONLY reason a ketch even features in this case is because the water taxi allegedly dropped them off to a ‘ketch’..THAT is the only ketch sighting that matters in first instance. It is ground zero.

    If ketch drop off is real, then everyone else’s ketch sightings become relevant b c d e etc. But ONLY if sighting A is correct.

    I thought I had made it abundantly clear last night that sighting A was false. Two of the only three witnesses NEVER saw a ketch, and admitted it was far too dark to see what colour stripe the boat had. Guy Wallace was the only one of the three to use the k word, and even then he wasn’t sure. However his actual description of the boat, and the other two’s, matched Blade.

    I didn’go into it last night, but wallace also made up this fairy tale about what the back of the ketch looked like…but all three witnesses admitted under questioning that they had never gone near the back of the boat because they reversed out past the bow, the way they had come in. This is further proof that Wallace was projecting intricate detail he’d seen on a ketch the previous day, onto the actual boat he took them to…it was a false memory of a ketch…making sightings b c and d irrelevant. Ben and Olivia were trapped on Blade with the psychopathic Watson, while the flake Guy Wallace sent cops and the public on an irrelevant wild goose chase for a non involved ketch.

    There were five ketches at Furneaux and ten within five km. But it wasn’t a ketch they climbed aboard. NOTHING in the witness accounts is consistent with a ketch….nothing.

    At least one of the ketches was based in Auckland..

    However…do you really think the killer of the two is going to say “yeah I was there” to a couple of strangers? Do you really think the abductor of the two is going to sail them, visible on the deck, up to a wharf where they can scream for help?

    These other “pieces of the puzzle” are not pieces at all, they are offcuts. There are something like 5,000 ketches in NZ. people saw a lot of them, often crewed by young people. The mystery man was identical to Watson.

    If you are having trouble with this go back to the descriptions and figure out how easily a small 17 year old girl could have ‘stepped’ onto a big ketch …

    Guy Wallace said the man told him he was from Christchurch, now lived in Picton, had crewed on fishing boats and was talking about a trip to Tonga. These were all Watson attributes. The suggestion that Watson had a clone there, same backstory, same size as him, same hair, same clothes and same tats, and they both arrived at the jetty at the same time, caught the only water taxi operating, but were different people – is so ridiculous that you have better odds of actually pulling the Ace of Hearts randomly from a shuffled full deck eight times in succession, than me being wrong about this.

    It has taken me close to an hour to type this…so you will forgive my facepalm when I see people still going ‘yeah but..’ and continuing with the ketch obsession as if none of the far more obvious evidence mattered.

    I can’t rule out alien abduction, but it seems unlikely. Watson was the killer…he did not own a ketch. I used to think Watson was innocent. I changed my mind after discovering the facts.

    And again, remember the obvious…would a ketch owner involved link themselves to the crime? If the Arlidges man had committed the perfect crime why would he admit to being therre? Seriously? The Arlidges waited years to come forward and this is their story: “”We were chatting with the guy, so I jokingly said to him, ‘Gosh the police must be interested in your boat with this hoo-ha at Furneaux Lodge’,” said David Arlidge. “And unbelievably he said to me, without any hesitation: ‘I know, I was there’.”

    The Arlidges didn’t call the police as they thought the case was “done and dusted”.

    I rest my case.

    Arlidge description only relevant if water taxi people saw ketch with portholes. Morresey and Dyer ere actually definite on this…no portholes.

  5. Hi Ian,
    I’m finding myself wondering why I’m even bothering to offer genuine input on your site when my comments never make it through and get answered fully and that is due to you believing 100% that Watson is guilty of the murder and strengthening your position through the webinar.

    OK, let’s say that Watson is guilty based on the points raised in the webinar and that he is indeed the mystery man, it clearly looks that way from what was presented. The other scenario is that there was another man and a ketch?…………Doubtful perhaps, but still some evidence that links a mystery man matching the description with two young people matching Ben and Olivia’s description at Mapua wharf, coincidence?….Any police files identifying the ketch and people onboard?…………Did it come and go without being identified?

    My own personal doubt about Watson’s guilt is related to what Rachel saw and the Arlidges statement given to police in Onehunga identifying a man on a ketch that admitted he was there at Furneaux lodge, very important information to this case don’t you think?

    Ian, if you are willing to release comments on Watson heard from prison guards and inmates then surely you must equally listen to the information that Rachel and the Arlidges have provided about a man on a ketch?
    Are you able to investigate the statement given to police by the Arlidges to help identify the ketch that was moored next to them in Feb/March 1998 so that it can be eliminated?……….. Did police follow it up? ………Are there marina yacht records of the ketch that was moored there? ………………………Is the skipper able to be identified?
    These are all extremely valid questions that need to be answered in relation to the case against Watson.

    I’m not a Watson supporter but I have some reasonable doubts based on Rachel’s information and what was reported by the Arlidges to police, these people have no reason to lie and if these ketches can be eliminated from the inquiry then all well and good it further strengthens my case that it was Watson.

    Ian, I know you’ve made your mind up that Watson committed the crime and that is fine, however, these other pieces to the puzzle do once again introduce a mystery man and ketch into the equation.

    Please keep an open mind and think carefully on the points I have raised. You have more access to obtaining answers to these questions from police than we do and they are extremely relevant to the case as once again a mystery man and ketch appear in the storyline which was the initial line of inquiry undertaken by Blenheim police and these first impressions could be closer to the truth than faded memories over time of witnesses.

    I welcome any breakthrough insights into what I have raised if that is possible?!!

  6. If he raped and murdered her on the bed, wouldn’t he have destroyed the tiger blanket or at least washed it…must have been very dusty for police to have removed 40 human hairs

  7. Rachel, did you appear on ‘Murder on the Blade’? If not, someone else gave a very similar accord (see my previous comment … I didn’t read yours until after I posted).

    Witness, did that but didn’t find anything …? Please elaborate.

    I have always wondered if Olivia and/or Ben were mixed up in the drug scene and had a debt to pay which turned nasty. That could then tie into the Gisborne drug yacht sinking (and/or the sunken yacht recently discovered in the Sounds and thought to be “Sioux”). If Ben and Olivia were dealing, that would be a good place to do so – and good time of course, with it being New Year’s Eve. Otherwise, why did they pick that particular destination to ring in the New Year celebrations? It’s scenic, but not the sort of place I’d pick for young people their age.

    The revelation about Olivia and her sister wearing matching rings was new to me, but a quick Google search tells me that this is old news. As Amelia (Olivia’s sister) is a jewellery designer, I imagine the ring would be quite distinctive – and of course it’s engraved. Finding it would no doubt be a major coup as it would at least give some sort of a sense of path to follow in finding out what happened.

    Another thing – Guy Wallace specifically stated that he was not a water taxi driver; that he gave a few people a lift as per their request, but he was essentially working at the bar. Why does the media keep pushing it that he was a “water taxi driver”? I thought he’d gone to Australia to get away from his link to this mystery but he seemed happy enough to talk on this programme.

  8. Ian, Sarah Deyer clearly stated the deck of the yaught they dropped the kids off was above her shoulder, standing up in the Niad, and that’s not a 20foot yaught.
    That’s the critical ID to their destination. But , did they die there? They may well have been enticed to who knows where.
    How much research was done into following up on this Ketch, and its owner. Perhaps defence council were remiss in not firing shots at police over this ‘vacuum’ of possibility. Did you look at these options?

  9. Really appreciate your input Rachel, because I have absolutely no doubt you saw that boat with those people on it. Would you like to watch the online webinar tomorrow night? I’m taking people through the sequence of events and it will shed some light for you.

  10. I sighted a ketch matching the description of the mystery ketch coming into the Mapua channel, moored at the Mapua Wharf and sailing out (under motor) the following morning. When we sought to identify it with the Mapua Boat Club Inc it was initially described as a ‘regular’, however this information was subsequently corrected by the Club. It was stated that they had no idea who the ketch belonged to as it never registered nor paid wharf dues on the night it was moored. When it came into the channel I saw a young woman and young man seated at the rear of the ketch side by side, shoulders touching with the young woman on starboard. They didn’t move or make contact when I waved (a common occurrence to do as boats travel the channel). They matched the description of Ben Smart and Olivia Hope. A older slight, scruffy man, with long (nearly shoulder length) wavy hair probably in his 30’s was working near the bow of the boat getting prepared to dock. There was no sign of anyone on the ketch when I saw it that evening. The following morning I saw it depart through the channel into Tasman Bay around 9am. There was no sign of the young man and woman, and the older man was again sailing the boat ‘solo’. I saw no-one else. When the picture of the ‘mystery ketch’ appeared in the Nelson Evening Mail paper it looked very similar to what I had seen; and hence I contacted the Police as requested through the media. When I reported what I saw to the Police I expected my report to be noted in full. I don’t understand why no record was taken of the people I saw on the ‘ketch’.
    I don’t know if this was the mystery ketch, the mystery man, Ben Smart or Olivia Hope. I have no way to confirm that. I have no idea who is responsible for their disappearance; or the guilt of innocence of Scott Watson. I simply know what I saw.

  11. 05.01.98

    Working late shift Traffic Unit. Made enquiries re possible sighting of missing ketch.

    Spoke with:

    Gordon WALLACE
    C/- Boat Club
    Mapua Wharf
    Ph 03 540 2858


    “There was a ketch here called the “Se Swalker”. It belongs to GEART who is from Lyttelton.

    GEART arrived here last Sunday in the afternoon, he left within the last hour or so. I thought he was coming back.

    The ketch was a white/brown ketch, it was a double-ender which is quite rare. It did have portholes of some kind I think.

    The other ketches here are a pale blue ketch which belongs to Adrian WARREN of Mapua (next to Const MAITLAND). It is called the “Te Whiti”, and it has been out of the harbour for a while now.

    The white ketch called “White Rose” belongs to Hamish PARKIN, it has not been out either.

    The white ketch with the blue tarpaulin belongs to Kerri HUBBARD.

    I have not see any other blue ketches in the port here.”

    J C Stuart
    Constable F460
    7 January 1998

  12. Reliable witnesses who reported the ketch at Mapua wharf were told by police, ” It is no longer relevant to our investigation.” Therefore how can you claim that all sightings of a ketch were all tracked down by police when that is clearly not the case?
    What was the name of the ketch moored at Mapua wharf if police have identified it?

  13. but your article says:

    “Nor was the mystery man’s hair long and Scott’s short as portrayed in the movie. Watson’s own brother and sister in law, Tom and Trudy Watson, admitted in their police statements that when they saw Scott at the time his hair was “wavy…longer…down past his collar”.”

    they showed a photo of scott watson drinking on a boat on that night and we saw he had short hair, was clean shaven and was wearing reasonably nice clothes. what’s your article on about saying different?

  14. There was about 100 boats that the police have identified as being in the mooring area off Furneaux. They were there to meet up with friends and party. Every boat that arrived was scruitinised by others waiting for their friends. A mooring area is dynamic, boats move with changes in wind and tide you have to be aware of the boats around you, you check your position relative to other boats different boats react differently so you note the type of boat. You check before you go ashore and you check before you go to sleep. When you get up and have a piss in the middle of the night you check again. Its not like a park and forget car park.
    Some boaties have photographic memories when it comes to boats.
    No one on a boat in the mooring area of Furneaux identified a ketch similar to the so called mystery ketch and everyone there that night was interviewed by police. (apart from the Alliance)
    There were hundreds of photos taken and again no ketch.

  15. They have been declared legally dead. And as is the practice in all major Western judicial systems, when a disappearance occurs in suspicious circumstances there is a legal presumption of homicide. Suspicious circumstances in this case were that they were last seen getting onto someone’s boat, and no trace of them or any of their possessions has ever been found. One person falling overboard might be an accident. Two falling overboard and both bodies never turning up – suspicious. Two going missing and belongings disappearing – no accident.

    So standard legal procedure is to work out who was last with them.

    In this case none of the clothes Watson was wearing on the night have ever been found (his girlfriend gave detailed descriptions of the clothes), and Watson has lied about his entire movements and whereabouts for the 36 hours following the disappearance.

  16. Regardless of all the facts or fiction [whatever couch you’re sitting on], I fail to understand how someone, albeit of an unsavoury nature, is able to be found guilty of two murders when there were no bodies discovered ???
    Where exactly was the proof that Smart & Hope were actually dead ? Sure, their disappearance was a huge worry/problem, but had they been killed or kidnapped ?
    Until bodies are found, evidence of murder is baseless in my point of view.

  17. Hi Woodlink

    There were lots of ketch sightings…the police collected hundreds. They checked out whatever they could. The Mapua Wharf sightings for example were all tracked down (the boats).

    There was no moonlight. Guy Wallace and the others on the water taxi called it “pitch black” and said field of view was about a metre or two.

    These innocent people were not lying. You should read Elementary as it has many of the original police witness testimonies so you can actually see what people saw

  18. Matt…Guy’s memory was a trainwreck…he’d seen a ketch like that in daylight and transposed it onto Blade in the dark. None of the other witnesses ever saw two masts (ketch) or portholes. Nor in the dark did they recognise the colour of the stripe.

  19. If boat had sunk debris would have floated….and mystery man probably would not have been lone psychopath but having a wider family who loved him and reported him missing. Never happened.

  20. Hi Ian, has anyone ever followed a theory that Ben and Olivia did get on a boat with a mystery man and that they sailed off together for a bit of fun the next day only to run into trouble and sink? I know this sounds far fetched, but what if what happened to them was not actually sinister but an accident? This would explain why the mystery man was never identified, the mystery boat was never found and the bodies never recovered.

  21. Hi Ian,

    This has piqued my interest as well. I will make an effort to read your book in due course.

    You state that all 3 witnesses aboard the Water Taxi never actually said they saw a ketch, yet Guy Wallace was on the documentary saying the boat he dropped them to was a two masted ketch, with a blue stripe and portholes?

    One thing that seemed obvious was Mr Wallaces obvious discomfort in his dealings with the police and the anguish it still causes him.

  22. Ian, has it ever been recorded that Sandy has stated that all of the scratches on the hatch were caused by her daughters? Why was Sandy not called as a witness to state that?
    It is entirely possible that some scratches we done prior to the incident and what Beryl is saying is true, but as she never saw the hatch with the scratches it has no bearing on the claim that some of the scratches were caused by Olivia.
    In a two hour program about ten minutes was spent discussing three of the many items of circumstantial evidence that got Watson convicted.
    I have followed the case from the very beginning and have no doubt that Watson is guilty through the circumstantial evidence presented in court.
    I agree there was not a single piece of new evidence presented in the program that had not been aired before.

  23. So Ian Wishart.
    How do you explain all the sightings of the ketch in the Marlborough Sounds area for days after Ben & Olivia went missing, and the sightings of these people seeing 2 young people sitting at the back of the ketch as it sailed past them.
    It may have been dark when the water taxi dropped them off, but take into account that it is the middle of summer, the moonlight and the fact that other boats in the area had lights on.

    This case has so many holes in it and the fabrication of the police and how they treated the witnesses is disgusting!!!

    These innocent people who gave testimonies have no reason to lie, and the police have only taken the parts of their testimonies that support their case, not all the facts – how can you expect anyone to trust our police force!!

  24. Great question Luke…and the answer is that all three witnesses on the water taxi never actually said they saw a ketch. In fact it was so dark they could barely tell it was a boat….full details in tonight’s free webinar at 8pm

  25. I agree.What a one side view.Having been a yachtie and cruising the Marlbourgh Sounds for 20 years you get to no boats and who raft up to you.

  26. How do you get around the fact that Guy Wallace and two other people (Hayden Morresey and Sarah Dyer) on the water taxi say they dropped Ben and Olivia off to a ketch on the morning in question? Also all three testify to seeing “the mystery man” on the water taxi rather than Scott Watson. Why would all three lie about this or get this wrong? If you say their testimony is unreliable then surely you can apply this to your witnesses regarding seeing Scott Watson painting his boat while on the move? It has been proven time and again that witness testimony can be very unreliable (I get that) but any person with even a minimum of experience of yachts will know the different between a 40 foot two mast ketch and a 21 foot one mast sloop.

    So if there was no ketch this means all three witnesses on the water taxi mistakenly mistook a ketch for Blade. This seems implausible.

    Also I have been on boats all my life and I know that if three boats were tied up together (as per Scott Watson’s boat and the two others) that if three people came on-board then everyone on the other boats would hear them as noise is amplified intensely. So surely the people on the other boats tied up to Blade would have known if Ben and Olivia had come onboard Scott’s boat?

    I don’t have a foot in either camp but it seems pretty obvious that Ben and Olivia were dropped off on a ketch not a sloop. That is the part that I and I think most people struggle with.

  27. I saw the programme last night on tv1. Always believed he never did this, and am disgusted with NZ police over the handling of this. Just like the Bains case, why was their house burnt down so fast. So easy to judge and am disgusted with the prosecution process here in NZ.

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