The question Scott Watson supporters cannot answer
By Ian Wishart
Few will have failed to notice the whirlwind of debate flying around the new book Elementary and its evidence that Scott Watson is definitely guilty of the murders of Marlborough Sounds friends Olivia Hope and Ben Smart.
Supporters of Watson, furious at the new book, continue to rely on now-discredited claims in earlier books or documentaries to try and rebut the evidence in Elementary, garnered from the original police files.
There’s one question that stops them in their tracks however, one question they have been unable to answer – and it is a fundamental one: how did Scott Watson get back to his yacht Blade, moored off Furneaux Lodge, just before 4am on New Year’s Day, 1998?
Supporters are vociferous in trying to argue that Watson was not the “mystery man” given a lift on Guy Wallace’s water taxi, which also took Ben and Olivia on a one way ride to oblivion. Watson, they say did not match descriptions of the mystery man. That claim, incidentally, is untrue. The book Elementary reprints many descriptions from confirmed encounters with Watson on the night that are identical to the mystery man’s description. Those who continue to claim otherwise are cherrypicking only the descriptions that suit their argument, and ignoring those witnesses who described Watson in similar terms.
While the debate gets bogged down in descriptions of the mystery man, however, or supposed differences between the mystery ketch and Blade, the much more fundamental question has gone unanswered. Before you can have arguments about whether Watson was the mystery man, you first have to be able to prove he was on Guy Wallace’s water taxi. Because if Watson was not on it, he can’t have been the killer and all the other debates are irrelevant.
Although Watson claimed to have been taken back alone to Blade at 2am by an older guy wearing a hat, we know the 2am time is wrong because people on the boat rafted to Blade were still on deck at 2am and Watson wasn’t there, plus Watson was seen by multiple witnesses getting involved in a confrontation in the Furneaux bar between 3am and 3.30am.
Everyone with any real knowledge of the case admits Watson could not have got to the Furneaux jetty looking for a ride to Blade, any earlier than 3.30am.
Watson, says his chief supporter Keith Hunter, “went back both alone, and later than 3.30am.”
So we are agreed on timing: Scott Watson went looking for a water taxi ride after 3.30am.
The next step is really important: whose water taxi did Watson get a ride on? Obviously, only drivers still working after 3.30 qualify.
The answer can be arrived at by following the rules of logic. A logical proof is a statement whose conclusion must be true if certain preconditions (premises) are met.
PREMISE ONE Watson arrived at jetty after 3.30am
PREMISE TWO: Only two water taxi drivers were still on duty, Robert Mullen and Guy Wallace
PREMISE THREE: Mullen says he definitely did not take Watson to Blade
CONCLUSION: Only Guy Wallace could have taken Watson to Blade.
Readers will note that a logical proof is dependent on specific evidential facts. It is not reliant on opinions, nor – in the above example – on confused descriptions. It strips the debate down to its core ingredients.
We begin the logic test by finding out who was driving and when. Rachel Veitch was coordinating and supervising the water taxi drivers from the Furneaux jetty. She was questioned during the trial about her team:
“Who were the Naiad drivers working under your supervision that afternoon and that evening?”
” … we had John and Robert Mullen, Donald Anderson and Matt Wilkinson.”
“Are John and Robert related to one another?”
” …. Father and son.”
Of those taxi drivers, only one was still working at 3.30 – Robert Mullen:
“Mr Mullen and his son Robert, did they work throughout the entire period you have been talking about?”
“…Robert did, John finished after midnight so probably a couple of hours after midnight, 2 o’clock and he was ferried back to his boat and he stayed there.”
Matt Wilkinson, confirmed Veitch, “finished about 2 as well.”
Veitch’s court testimony on this matched her initial police statement from 5 January 1997, although at that stage she recalled John Mullen departing at 2.30am rather than 2am. Importantly, in that early statement she pointed out that John Mullen had done very few runs after midnight:
“John was operating a taxi until about midnight and then he stayed on the floating jetty and I stayed on the hard jetty. From midnight it was the other three boys running them. John may have done a couple more runs after midnight but he finished work at about 2.30 am.”
Donald Anderson, one of the other drivers, says he was the one who gave John Mullen a lift home to his boat:
“I recall dropping John MULLEN back to his boat, “Southern Comfort”, at about 2.00 – 2.30 am. This was about the same time Matt left the wharf.”
Matt Wilkinson told police:
“I finished on the boats at 2.00 am.”
For his part, John Mullen, a Vietnam vet, was all over the place on his timings. In his initial police statement he thought he had worked until 3.30am. Clearly he hadn’t, and sure enough in a later statement Mullen recalled he had left the wharf and gone up to the Lodge kitchen at “2.30 am to see my wife again. It would have been about 30 minutes before I went home. This was to organise our trip back across the bay to our boat. I ended up going across the bay to the yacht with Don in the yellow naiad.”
John Mullen’s confirmation that he left the jetty at 2.30 fits with Rachel Veitch last seeing him around that time, and Anderson’s evidence that he drove Mullen home.
In that same 6 February 1998 police statement, Mullen confirmed he had left before Guy Wallace arrived to take over taxi duty, and that he did not recognise photos of either Scott Watson or his yacht Blade:
“….Guy WALLACE never worked off the jetty when I was there, he must have come down after I had left. I have been shown a picture of a yacht (Photo 1) and I can’t say whether I saw it or not in the inlet while I was driving the naiad.
“…I have been shown a photo of a male (Photo A) and do not recall seeing this person at all at Furneaux over New Year.”
Just in case there is any lingering doubt, Mullen was interviewed by police again, two days later:
“I believe that I was definitely off the jetty area by 3 am on New Year’s morning. It was when there was a real quiet time and this was prior to Guy WALLACE coming down.
“…I have been shown a photo (Photo A) again and do not recall seeing this male at all during the evening at Furneaux.”
It should now be abundantly clear that John Mullen’s confused testimony in a video interview for the Murder On The Blade documentary five years later – where he appeared to remember taking Scott Watson out to Blade – was quite simply wrong, a product of advancing age and in my opinion shoddy journalism by the interviewer.
Keith: Do you recall how it related to when you finished work.
John: Well I was not working.
Keith: Oh you were driving a water taxi.
John: No, I was assisting, my son was on water taxi, I was assisting him down there, just assisting when he sort of hooked up, I went and assisted.
Keith: So you haven’t got a good feel about when it was.
John: I would say
Keith: I mean really in terms of when you went home, when you did.
John: I went home at five o’clock and I know I went home at five o’clock in the morning and it was well before then.
Keith: Two, three, three thirty, four?
John: Quite Possibly
Keith Hunter claimed John Mullen was the taxi driver who delivered Watson to Blade at 4am on New Year’s morning, but quite simply he cannot have been. By the time of his interview with Hunter, Mullen was thinking he finished work at 5am – he’d forgotten all his previous evidence to police years earlier when his memory was better. An entire documentary alleging Watson was innocent was based on a false alibi from a witness whose memory had failed him, and an interviewer who should have pointed out to John Mullen what he had remembered and told police all those years ago.
So who’s left? Matt Wilkinson had gone at 2am, John Mullen at 2.30. Donald Anderson returned from taking Mullen to Southern Comfort and recalls being asked as he was tying up the Naiad at Furneaux whether he would take a young couple – Sarah Dyer and Hayden Morresey over to the Solitude jetty. He said no, he was taking a break:
“I remember a male and female ask me if I could take them to Solitude. I said no, I was due for a coffee break anyway. This couple walked off back up in the direction of the lodge. Very soon after this I saw another couple walk onto the floating jetty. I was on ‘Foam’ at this point. I didn’t speak to the second couple. It was a male and female.”
Although Anderson did not realise it, it was now around 3.30am and he was watching the passengers assemble for the fateful water taxi ride. Morresey and Dyer had headed up to the Lodge where they would find Guy Wallace on the pathway who offered to take them. Anderson’s second couple were Amelia Hope (Olivia’s older sister) and Rick Goddard, looking for a ride out to Tamarack.
“Very soon after,” Anderson told police, “I saw Guy WALLACE walk onto the wharf with the couple who wanted to go to Solitude. Guy got into the naiad I had been driving (the yellow one) and started it. I recall seeing the girl I have said [Amelia Hope]… speak to Guy and I got the impression she was asking him for a ride. There were other people in the cabin area of Foam when this took place. I’m pretty sure Robert MULLEN was one and maybe Jackie BAKER. There was definitely at least one of the guys from the Foam charter. I didn’t see Guy drive away in the naiad. It’s possible that someone else could have got onto the naiad.
“I sort of remember Guy coming back and I vaguely remember saying thanks to Guy for doing the trip.”
After finishing his coffee, Anderson was called up to the lodge to help break up a drunken fight. ” I didn’t go back to the wharf again.”
So Anderson’s movements are accounted for. Around 2.45am he has been tasked with ferrying John Mullen home, arriving back after 3am. He does not make another taxi journey in the relevant period because – as Keith Hunter has stated – Watson “went back both alone, and later than 3.30am.”
John Mullen was in bed by 3am. He cannot have taken Watson to Blade. Matt Wilkinson had quit at 2am. And Don Anderson had tied up his Naiad at 3.15am.
Only Robert Mullen – John’s young son – was still taxiing, now joined by latecomer Guy Wallace who first appears on the scene at 3.30…the very same time that we know Scott Watson was coming to the jetty.
So to recap, where are we now in the logic test that will prove who took Watson out to Blade?
Robert Mullen is the only other driver who could have taken Watson to his sloop, but told police he is adamant he did not carry him:
“I have seen the orange/red sloop on 31 December 1997 at Furneaux and I remember driving past it a few times on the Naiad. I don’t remember seeing anyone on it at all.
“…I don’t recall seeing it on any other occasion during either the daylight hours or the evening or the early hours of 1 January 1998.
“I have not taken any persons to this vessel either on 31 December 1997 or 1 January 1998 nor have I picked up anyone off this vessel.”
The logic statement is therefore proven:
PREMISE ONE Watson arrived at jetty after 3.30am (now proven)
PREMISE TWO: Only two water taxi drivers were still on duty, Robert Mullen and Guy Wallace (now proven)
PREMISE THREE: Mullen says he definitely did not take Watson to Blade (now proven)
CONCLUSION: Only Guy Wallace could have taken Watson to Blade.
And that means Scott Watson must be the killer. Here’s why: Guy Wallace’s water taxi ride to Tamarack, where he picked up Olivia and Ben and then went across to the mystery ‘ketch’, was timed around 3.45am. The boat that carried Scott Watson must have got him to Blade before 4am, because that’s when passengers on neighbouring Mina Cornelia and Bianco were woken by a drunken Watson wanting to have sex with one of the women.
Only two drivers were working between 3.30am and 4am, and one of them did not carry Watson. The other water taxi driver, Guy Wallace, initially remembered a mystery man who looked just like Watson:
“The guy on this ketch would have been about 32, about 5’9” tall, wiry build. He was unshaven but didn’t have a moustache. He had short dark wavy hair and smelled like a bottle of Bourbon.”
For 18 years it has been assumed that this meant the mystery man had been drinking Bourbons, but it’s equally possible – in fact more likely in terms of the amount of Bourbon you’d be able to smell – that the man could have leant in some spilled Bourbon. In Watson’s case, he fell in a puddle of alcohol near the bar.
Guy Wallace says the mystery man told him he was from Picton. So was Watson.
So here we have a water taxi driver who only made one taxi trip between 3.30am and 4am, and one Watson who arrived back at his boat by 4am, and Guy Wallace confirming he took a man out to a ‘ketch’ moored where Blade was moored.
Scott Watson was the mystery man on Guy Wallace’s water taxi. The statement has been proven true by logic. There is no other possible answer. There was no other taxi driver who could have taken Watson, and Wallace only made one trip in that time period – the fateful trip. He could not have taken Watson out alone to Blade as well as the mystery ketch trip: there was only one journey, and only one passenger unidentified.
Regardless of Guy Wallace’s unreliable memory, the evidence is clear: he had Watson, Ben and Olivia on his Naiad. That means Blade must be the ‘mystery ketch’, as the evidence in the book discloses.