By Ian Wishart
When word first emerged that Murder On The Blade producer Keith Hunter was going to take me on in an internet debate over the new book Elementary, I was hoping Keith would bring his A-game. So did his supporters:
“Keith Hunter is no slug and has an excellent handle on all that has happened, and his ability to express himself is truly outstanding. Wishart, you really want to take this guy on? I wouldn’t, and I don’t consider myself a slug either, so all I can say is I’m glad Keith and I are on the same side,” gushed Neville Munro, an admin on the Scott Watson support page.
“Keith will easily refute Mr Wishart It will be child’s play for him,” gooed Lindsay Kennard, another admin.
The man himself, Keith Hunter, boasted on his website:
“I predict this is the end of Wishart.”
Yeah, well, let’s see about that.
Hunter threw out a $5000 challenge which asked for one credible reason why the repainting of Blade might be relevant to the murders of Ben Smart and Olivia Hope. The reason would be independently judged, he stated.
So I fired through some reasons. The painting, I said, was relevant because it exposed the prime suspect in a massive lie about his movements and his actions in the hours after the couple disappeared. For 18 years Scott Watson has maintained to police and in North & South magazine that he left Furneaux alone, sailed directly to see Zappa at Erie Bay, arriving at 10am on January 1 1998, and spending three days there. He painted his boat at Erie Bay – he claimed – after borrowing some paint from Zappa on January 2.
Turns out none of that was true. None of it. My book Elementary caught Watson out, with a string of witnesses seeing Blade being repainted live at sea on the morning of 1 January, en route to Picton, not Erie Bay.
So what is Keith Hunter’s “A-game” response to this development? He doesn’t have one, so chooses to become a reality-denier because it’s the only card left in his hand. First, he picks a quote of mine, then offers his “truth”:
Ex Wishart’s reply: “We know it was Scott, and Hunter knows it was Scott, because one of the witnesses was water taxi driver Sam Edwards who knew Scott and Blade very well and positively identified it in this sighting …:and his (Edwards’) certainty proved correct when independent witnesses Wayne Robertson and Matthew Stevens both confirmed there were two men on board..”
The truth: The passage is no more than smoke and mirrors. The sighting by Edwards has no relationship with the yacht Wishart claims was being painted in the middle of Queen Charlotte Sound. Nothing links the yacht Edwards saw with the yacht allegedly being painted. There is no evidence that they were the same yacht. Edwards saw Watson in his yacht. End of story.
And that folks is Denial-on-a-Popsicle-stick. Nothing, blusters the award-winning director of Murder On The Blade, links the yacht Edwards saw to the yacht being painted.
No, of course not. On Planet Hunter there were two yachts that looked identical to Blade, being sailed by a man that looked identical to Watson, both sailing in precisely the same tiny area of Queen Charlotte Sound at precisely the same time and going in precisely the same direction.
And get this! The other yacht, the this-is-not-Blade-under-any-circumstances yacht, just happened to be undergoing a repaint from red to blue just like Scott Watson’s boat! Imagine that! Who knew there were two 26 foot hard chine homebuilt sloops both being repainted from red to blue?
At this point I trembled in fear, remembering the bold warning of Neville Munro:
“Keith Hunter is no slug and has an excellent handle on all that has happened, and his ability to express himself is truly outstanding. Wishart, you really want to take this guy on?”
Call me a sucker for punishment.
“There is no evidence that they were the same yacht,” says Hunter.
Let’s see about that, shall we, because I know the evidence files quite well, and the files contain a bombshell that sinks Hunter’s denials. Under my scenario, Watson lied about going to Erie Bay and instead went to Picton, repainting his boat on the way with an accomplice. Hunter says it didn’t happen and I’m either lying or incompetent myself.
But charter boat skipper Ted Walsh says I’m right, not Hunter. Here’s proof that Blade was repainted on New Year’s Day, and it arrived in Picton at a time Hunter insists it was at Erie Bay:
“I have just viewed a photo of two boats one red/brown before 1 January 1998 and one blue after 1 January 1998. This was definitely not the boat, which I have referred to in this statement as the ‘chinese junk’.
“I can’t recall seeing the boat in this photo in Endeavour Inlet or at Furneaux during New Year’s Eve. However on the 01.01.98 I was with Eyvonne in Waikawa Bay around 2.30 pm. This timing is dependent on when I fuelled up. I used a Caltex fuel card which presently is with Eyvonne. What I am about to tell you I have discussed this with Eyvonne and this is my scenario. I believe it was Waikawa Bay because I was going too slow, normally the Bill Fisher would be travelling with speed.
“I saw the boat in that photo being painted from the red/brown to the blue. The colours in the photo are the ones I saw, the front half of the cabin was red and the back was blue. The guy painting had no shirt on, medium build, wiry, untidy longish/bulky curly black hair around 30-35 years. He wore shorts (unknown colour). He had something in his hand but seemed to have more paint on his hands than on the boat. It struck me that it was odd on New Year’s Day to be painting the boat. It was a good day and he should have been sailing.
“It is definitely the boat in the photo. I have never seen the owner of this boat or even the yacht itself prior to this sighting. Because of the news coverage I know it’s owned by a guy WATSON.
“Once again this was a passing thing and I only took note of it because Eyvonne commented. I haven’t seen this yacht since.
“I have been shown two sketches of a male, the person painting the boat was similar to the larger sketch. The person painting the boat may have had slightly long hair.
“I have read this and it is true and correct.
“(Signed) E C Walsh.”
Game, set, match, Hunter. I saved this ace until now because I felt certain after Elementary came out that you would a) attack it, and b) fail to do your homework (given what I had seen of your “journalistic” work to date). Thank you for doing exactly what I suspected you would.
The impact of Ted Walsh’s statement is massive. He proves Blade was in Picton on 1 January, shortly after the apparent body-disposal sighting in a secluded Picton bay. He proves Blade was being repainted red to blue. He confirms Scott Watson with windblown scruffy hair looked like the sketch of the mystery man. He confirms that – despite the photos – Watson’s hair looked slightly long, describing Watson as “medium build, wiry, untidy longish/bulky curly black hair around 30-35 years.”
Ted Walsh’s confirmation that it was Blade being painted from red to blue that day closes the circle, making it certain (if like Hunter you are still in denial) that the boat with two men painting it from red to blue on the way to Picton was definitely Blade.
That means the documentary Murder on the Blade is false, and the conclusions of Trial By Trickery are false too. Watson didn’t go to Erie Bay. He went to Picton. Seen by Ted Walsh. Painting his boat on New Year’s Day.
It’s an open and shut case. Everything Watson has said was a lie, and all the books and documentaries based on that lie are wrong.
Of course, Keith may now try to argue it was the Mystery Man that Walsh saw, but I don’t see how that digs him out of the hole: what was the Mystery Man doing on Scott’s yacht?
It’s over. Pay up the $5000 to Starship Children’s Hospital Keith. You issued a challenge and people can now see the result. At least some other children could be helped.
I could continue to fisk Keith Hunter’s error-ridden posts and I have plenty more bombshells to drop, but I think I’ll leave this to sink in for a while. If you want the real story, read the Elementary book.