Trial by Trickery

Statement of Intent


The 1999 conviction of Scott Watson for two murders resulted from the most dishonest and dishonourable criminal prosecution in New Zealand history. The lawless behaviour of all of the representatives of the system during the case is both undeniable and unparalleled. If New Zealand truly had a'justice' system, it is these people who would qualify for imprisonment, not Watson.

There are three fronts on which Watson was unjustly, or falsely, attacked. Two of them are the reasons why he was convicted. The third keeps him in prison now. They are:

1 From the beginning of the police inquiry to the end of his appeal hearing, all of the major players for the justice system - the police, the prosecutors, the trial judge and three judges of the court of appeal - repeatedly misled and misinformed the jury, the press, and the public. Watson was first convicted in the media before the trial solely because of misinformation from the police, then he was convicted by the jury in court solely because of misinformation from the prosecutors and the trial judge.

2 At his trial, the prosecution team conducted its case in such a way that its murder scenario remained hidden from the defence, the judge and the jury until the last day. By then all the witnesses had given their evidence and gone home. Not one of them was asked a single question which would reveal the actual scenario the prosecutors finally, and successfully, put to the jury. The prosecutors had known that scenario for months before the trial. The defence was never aware of it.

The prosecutors' tactics completely prevented Watson from defending himself in court. Since the true prosecution case only arrived on the last day, it was impossible for the jury to consider the issues because it didn't know what the issues were. None of them had been put before the court during the entire three month trial.

3 Convicted of two murders on false information and a hidden scenario, Watson now remains in prison only because of an extraordinary false statement by three distinguished judges of the New Zealand Court Of Appeal. His appeal was declined solely because of that false statement.

Statement of Intent

The question posed by the book Trial by Trickery and at the heart of this website is:

Is the Watson case unique or is it typical of all criminal trials in New Zealand?
That is: Do the police, the prosecutors and the judges mislead trials and juries all the time. Is that the way it's done here? And if they do mislead all the time do they do so accidentally or on purpose?
That is: Do the police, the prosecutors and the judges lie? And if they do lie, do they all lie all the time?
That is: Are our policemen, prosecutors and judges all liars or are some of them just incompetent?

On 9 March 2007 the book was sent to all of the country's parliamentarians. Its opening pages carry an open letter to them demanding a wide-ranging inquiry into the way criminal law is practised in New Zealand, and a specific inquiry into the actions during the Watson case of many of the most distinguished members of the nation's judicial system. These elite citizens are identified and named at the beginning of the book and frequently in the body of its text.

If a satisfactory response to the book is not forthcoming, this website intends to name those accused on its pages and to conduct its own inquiry so as to pronounce whether their false information and courtroom tactics brand them as negligent and incompetent, or as conspirators and prejudiced liars. Whichever is the outcome, in the absence of any other inquiry, it will be logical to assume that they represent all those others who share their exalted stations. Taken all together, these august figures are our judicial system.



The following letter was posted 18 June 2007 to Deputy Commissioner of Police Rob Pope:

It will be followed in two weeks time by a letter of a similar nature to former Deptury Solicitor General Nicola Crutchley, and afterwards to the other prosecutors and then to the appropriate judges of the Court of Appeal, as noted on the Latest News pages previously:


18 June 2007
Deputy Commissioner Rob Pope
Police National Headquarters,
PO Box 3017

Dear Mr Pope,
Re: The Sounds Murders and your Scott Watson Inquiry

Various reports have it that although you are aware of my book Trial By Trickery, now publicly available since 12 March, you have not taken the time to read it.

You should read it. You and your inquiry into the disappearance of Ben Smart and Olivia Hope feature in it prominently. I enclose a copy in the event that your failure to read it results from a difficulty in gaining access to one.

The references to you can in general be described as intensely critical, to the point where an available inference is that you lied constantly to the press and people of New Zealand during the police inquiry you headed, and that you followed these lies with more to the High Court where they constituted false oaths as described in section 110 of the Crimes Act (you should be aware that Mr Chris Watson has for some years been involved in a so far unsuccessful attempt to interest the Police Complaints Authority and your superiors meaningfully in this last matter).

It is my view that, wherever they are available to readers of the book, these inferences would be proper and accurate. In my opinion you deliberately set Scott Watson up in the public mind as a murderer preparatory to arresting him, and then you deliberately set out to deprive him of a fair trial. To achieve the latter you defamed him so profoundly that no jury could be free from prejudice against him, ultimately causing the people of New Zealand to find it of no consequence if he were convicted of crimes of which he was innocent.

My individual accusations are too numerous to be listed here in full, especially those involving the press which are described in Chapter 1 of Trial By Trickery. However here is a representative short list you might address if you feel your reputation and that of the New Zealand Police Force has suffered damage as a consequence of the book and of your failure so far to respond to it, or as a consequence of my publication of this letter:

• An overarching available inference is that you deliberately told the press and people of New Zealand that Scott Watson was not a suspect while also telling chosen journalists unofficially and off the record that he was the killer, your purpose being to create a situation where the press as a whole could identify, attack and malign Watson without risking ‘sub judice’ contempt of court proceedings. Chapter 1 of Trial By Trickery as a whole details this.

My further accusations, their factual backgrounds all detailed in the book, are:

• That within five days you formed the view that Watson was guilty of murder and then you deliberately ignored, and conducted your inquiry so that your subordinates ignored, any evidence or indication to the contrary. Chapter One as a whole addresses this;
• That you gave orders to cease searching for the ‘mystery ketch’ within a week of taking command of the inquiry, and then informed the press and public that the ketch did not exist despite receiving numerous eyewitness accounts of it over an extended period, See page 40ff and also chapter 3 as a whole. See also the 6 May posting on the website’s guestbook by former Detective Mike Chapple;
• That you repeatedly informed New Zealand at large, via the press, that Watson matched the description of the ‘mystery man’ last seen with Ben and Olivia, always knowing that this was untrue. This is treated several times in several contexts in Chapters 1 and 2;
• That you made a practice of creating and circulating false rumours against Watson and of then refusing to comment on them when questioned by the press, despite knowing them to be untrue. Amongst these issues are the ‘material and matter’ issues first described on page 38, the ‘missing anchors’ issue beginning on page 50, the Christchurch drug rumour on page 40 – and many others;
• That when ordering Watson to be interviewed, you required that he be first told that no suspicion attached to him when he was in fact your prime and sole suspect, and that this resulted in information falsely acquired being distorted and then falsely used against him. See pages 209ff;
• That, to sully his reputation further, you published an insinuation that Watson had assaulted a woman in the ‘dive shed incident’ at Furneaux Lodge described beginning on page 62, despite knowing this to be untrue;
• That you ordered a ‘suspect profile’ of Watson to be created and then you distributed it amongst the families of Ben and Olivia and amongst large groups assembled to search for the missing pair, your purpose being to identify and confirm Watson as your suspect and at the same time to defame him and create widespread public antipathy towards him. See pages 45ff;
• That in order to promote your defamation of Watson himself, you deliberately spread false and defamatory rumours about his family. See page 21, pages 60ff and elsewhere;
• That you deliberately created and spread a false rumour that he had an incestuous relationship with his sister. See page 49;
• That you falsely gave journalist Cate Brett, then of North & South magazine, to believe that witnesses had seen Ben and Olivia boarding a one-masted sloop. See page 42;
• That you colluded with Brett (pages 67ff), or encouraged her with misinformation, to write a defamatory and distorted article attacking Watson as violent and out of control when influenced by alcohol, for publication in North & South magazine at exactly the time you were preparing to arrest him;
• That you swore multiple false oaths (listed on pages 56ff, and later page 241) in affidavits to the High Court, all of these oaths being allegations against Watson which you knew to be untrue;
• That you spread a rumour that Watson had cut his hair to avoid identification as the ‘mystery man’, despite knowing this to be untrue. See page 59 and frequently elsewhere;
• That you deliberately chose a ‘trick’ photograph for use as an identification tool, knowing that it promoted an untrue impression of Watson’s appearance. See page 22 and variously in Chapter 2;
• That you did not test the duration of a voyage by the sloop Blade from Cook Straight to Erie Bay because you knew it would contradict any case against Watson. See Chapter 5;
• That you coerced a witness found with 250 marijuana plants into giving false evidence, by first threatening his access to his children and then promising that you would charge him only with ‘cultivation’ if he complied, and then, as a cover-up, you falsely approved for publication that he had been charged with ‘possession for supply’. See Chapter 5;
• That you bought the testimony of two prison inmate “secret witnesses” by offering them favourable treatment in return for false evidence claiming Watson confessed to them in prison. See pages 168ff.

There are many other issues which are of concern in relation to your police investigation and the case against Watson that derived from it. The most serious involves the possible planting of one of Olivia Hope’s hairs in a bag of hairs taken from a blanket found on Scott Watson’s boat. While there is no clear evidence that it actually happened, nor any evidence that you were involved if it did, I suggest that the integrity of your investigation overall was such that it would be of value to you were you to offer a view of the matter here. Relevant details are discussed on pages 173ff, Trial By Trickery.

In the public interest, a copy of this letter to you will posted on the website on Monday 18 June, and I will promulgate it through the media as far as I am able. A copy will in the coming week be sent to every member of parliament. Considering that the general thrust of my accusations makes you a constant liar, your reply and any other relevant information will be similarly posted and distributed in fairness to you.

Yours Faithfully,
Keith Hunter
Author and Publisher, Trial By Trickery