Murder on the Blade?

After the Broadcast:

The level of viewer response was unprecedented in my experience. I had more phone calls, emails and letters by far than for any other film over the previous decades. They had tuned in because of their discomfort about the case and it had struck a chord with them by confirming their own views about it. The correspondence was not confined to appreciative comment. Many just wanted to get it off their chests that the film had confirmed their own suspicions that Watson was innocent.

Many also called or wrote about the mystery ketch the missing couple were last seen boarding but which the police claimed did not exist. These people spoke of their own ketch sightings, which they had reported to the police at the time of the inquiry in early 1998 but heard nothing more. While some of their sightings may not have been of the 'mystery yacht' involved in the disappearance of Ben Smart and Olivia Hope, they were all of two masted yachts that were never identified, giving the lie to repeated police claims that all such yachts in the Sounds at the time were accounted for.

However many people described in detail a yacht which matched the ketch recalled by key witness Guy Wallace and others at Furneaux Lodge that New Year's Eve. Some also described an unkempt, long-haired man man sailing her who matched the eyewitness descriptions of the mystery man last seen boarding the mystery yacht with Ben Smart and Olivia Hope.

The police did themselves no good by their treatment of these witnesses, all of them responsible citizens who had simply replied to early police requests for sightings, only to be given the brush off when they did call in. They were still angry when they made contact with me six years later. They didn't know that the police had decided to ignore all ketch sightings just a week after the inquiry proper had got underway. Any yacht sighting which was not a sighting of Scott Watson's little sloop Blade had already become superfluous.

Keith Hunter: