Meeting between Hope-Smart killer Scott Watson and victim's dad to go ahead in prison

Scott Watson is currently in his 18th year in Christchurch's Rolleston Prison.
Scott Watson is currently in his 18th year in Christchurch's Rolleston Prison.

The father of Marlborough schoolgirl Olivia Hope has been granted access to speak with the man convicted of her murder.

The Department of Corrections has this morning confirmed Gerald Hope will meet with Scott Watson who was found guilty of killing Olivia and partner Ben Smart in the Marlborough Sounds.

Watson is currently in his 18th year in Christchurch's Rolleston Prison.

The move follows an August 25 ruling of Justice Mallon in the High Court, quashing an earlier decision by the Corrections Department which barred North & South writer Mike White attending the meeting.

"Justice Mallon ordered the Corrections Department to reconsider its original decision, and the Department recently informed the parties that it would now allow the meeting to proceed," said North & South editor Virginia Larson in a statement today.

"Both Mr Hope and Mr Watson have long been open to, and sought, a meeting."

Ben Smart and Olivia Hope who were last seen boarding a yacht on New Year's Eve in 1997. Photo / Supplied
Ben Smart and Olivia Hope who were last seen boarding a yacht on New Year's Eve in 1997. Photo / Supplied



Watson was convicted in 1999 of murdering Ben Smart, and Mr Hope's daughter, Olivia, and remains in prison. He says he is innocent.

"Mr Watson has always been willing to meet Mr Hope, but received advice from his lawyers not to advance such a meeting until his legal appeals had been exhausted," said Ms Larson

Since 2013, when his application for the Royal Prerogative of Mercy was rejected by the Governor General, Mr Watson's counsel have supported his efforts to meet Mr Hope.

Mr Hope has for many years expressed his openness to meet Mr Watson and his desire to ask him a number of questions, face to face.

"Mr Hope and Mr Watson requested the presence of Mr White at any meeting, as he is well known to both parties, has an intimate knowledge of the case, and is able to act as an independent observer and recorder of the meeting," said Ms Larson.

The Corrections Department decision follows more than three years of requests and legal action.

The department rejected applications for a meeting between Hope and Watson in 2013 and 2014. A further application for a meeting, with White present in his capacity as a journalist, was rejected in March this year. This decision was the subject of the successful judicial review in the High Court, held in August.

Ms Larson said the meeting would hopefully take place in the coming months.

Corrections deputy chief executive corporate services Vincent Arbuckle said White had been given permission to attend the meeting between Hope and the prisoner.

"The meeting has been approved with conditions to ensure security and protect the interests of victims," he said.

- NZ Herald

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