Progress in Watson appeal
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.