Progress in Wat­son ap­peal

The Dominion Post - - News - TOMMY LIV­INGSTON

Con­victed dou­ble mur­derer Scott Wat­son’s lat­est ap­peal has passed it first hurdle with the Gover­norGen­eral send­ing his ap­pli­ca­tion to the Min­is­ter of Jus­tice for con­sid­er­a­tion.

Wat­son is serv­ing a life sen­tence af­ter be­ing con­victed in 1999 of killing Ben Smart, 21, and Olivia Hope, 17, af­ter they went miss­ing from a New Year’s Eve party in the Marl­bor­ough Sounds.

He has al­ways claimed he never met Smart and Hope and de­nied killing them.

Last month, a Royal Pre­rog­a­tive of Mercy ap­pli­ca­tion was filed on be­half of Wat­son cit­ing fresh ev­i­dence that would chal­lenge his con­tro­ver­sial con­vic­tion.

Un­til now, the Gov­er­nor-Gen­eral’s of­fice had been con­sid­er­ing if the ap­pli­ca­tion was com­plete enough to send to the min­is­ter for for­mal ad­vice.

On Wed­nes­day, the of­fice con­firmed to Wat­son’s sup­port­ers in an email that his lat­est ap­pli­ca­tion was in or­der and the ‘‘for­mal process’’ of the ap­peal would be­gin.

The lat­est ap­peal was brought about by Auck­land re­searcher Brian McDon­ald – him­self a con­victed killer.

Wat­son wel­comed the news his ap­peal was pro­gress­ing, McDon­ald said.

‘‘He is very happy about the progress which is be­ing made. He feels his case is go­ing to be lis­tened to this time.’’

Wat­son’s fa­ther, Chris Wat­son, said last month: ‘‘Scott is op­ti­mistic, hope­ful, with a touch of pes­simism about the whole thing.’’

Wat­son has pre­vi­ously made un­suc­cess­ful ap­peals to the Court of Ap­peal and the Privy Coun­cil, claim­ing his in­no­cence. He will next be con­sid­ered for pa­role in 2020.

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