Five NZ murder cases that deserve a Netflix-style doco

Binged on The Jinx? Finished Making a Murderer? Hanging out for the next episode of Serial? Conflicting crime cases aren't just things that happen overseas. Here are five New Zealand cases that could be explored further.
Ben Smart and Olivia Hope went missing after New Year's celebrations in the Marlborough Sounds. Their bodies have never been discovered.
Ben Smart and Olivia Hope went missing after New Year's celebrations in the Marlborough Sounds. Their bodies have never been discovered.

1. Ben Smart and Olivia Hope

Scott Watson was convicted of the murder of young friends Ben Smart and Olivia Hope after they went missing on January 1, 1998, despite their bodies never being found. This case has everything that could make a great documentary series: A New Year's Eve party, a shady offer on board a water taxi, a nationwide search for a missing ketch that may never have existed, and a man in prison who has repeatedly appealed his conviction and still says he's innocent. Here's a quick overview from author Keith Hunter.

2. Jennifer Mary Beard

A case that's remained unsolved for more than 40 years now, Welsh tourist Jennifer Mary Beard was hitchhiking in the South Island when she was murdered and sexually assaulted under the Haast River Bridge on the West Coast.

The case has been reexamined by several publications over the years, most notably Investigate, who named a new suspect in 2008. If you think this doesn't warrant a TV series, this piece on crime.co.nz - which opens with the line, "Daddy, there's a lady lying near the stream. She hasn't got any clothes on. I think she is asleep." - will change your mind.

3. Mark Lundy

Christine and Amber Lundy died horribly, of that there is no question. How, why, and by who remain questions as compelling now as they were back when Christine's husband Mark Lundy was first convicted of the crime in 2001. Lundy appealed his conviction for years, and was granted a re-trial in April of last year, but was re-convicted. There are many facets to this case - business debts, insurance policies, a prostitute, a shirt splattered with brain matter, a pie and Palmerston North - that would make compelling TV. Read Steve Braunias' excellent piece after Lundy's second conviction here.

4. Kirsa Jensen

The murder of 14-year-old Napier resident Kirsa Jensen is a cold case that definitely deserves to be re-opened. She went missing on September 1, 1983 after going for a trek with her horse, Commodore. Over the years, psychics have intervened, confessions have been made and refuted, and bones have been found, but none have shed any light on what happened to Kirsa in 1983.

5. Peter Beckett

One-term Napier City Councillor Peter Beckett is accused of murdering his Canadian wife on a fishing trip. Other charges were filed after he allegedly tried to arrange the murder of five witnesses, including a policeman who investigated his case, a lawyer and his wife's parents. Laura Letts-Beckett drowned in what was originally believed to be a boating accident, she couldn't swim and was not wearing a life jacket at the time. It was later alleged Beckett pushed his wife overboard at Shelter Bay, northeast of Vancouver. His trial is set to begin Monday in the Supreme Court in Kamloops.

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