Trial by Trickery

The Defaming of Scott Watson.

There has been a level of attack on Scott Watson that was attempted but never achieved in the case of Arthur Allan Thomas. In the Watson case it has been extremely successful. It is the profound, nationally published defamation which amounted to a five month pre-arrest trial by media in 1998 and which continues still, nine years later.

Trial by Trickery deals with the matter in detail in its first chapter. It is for the readers of the book to decide whether the outcomes of the judicial processes directed against Scott Watson were intended, or whether, somehow, they just ‘happened’ and were helpful to his conviction by chance.

The first outcome of the police investigation was the public demonising of Watson, the utter demolition of his reputation as a person. By the time he was arrested he had become a man who does not matter, a non-person, someone who could be treated with contempt by the judicial system without the likelihood of any widespread public concern. He remains that.

Was the demonising deliberate? It turned out to be a vital element in the judicial system’s persecution of Watson. First the police inquiry and then the prosecutors and then the judge. Its thrust was that Watson was a sexual psychopath with a long and violent criminal record.

In fact he has no history of sexual misbehaviour at all. As for violence, while he had a youthful criminal record it was all but entirely non-violent. At the time Ben and Olivia went missing it was also historic, the record of a young man who had had a difficult adolescence and had put it behind him. At one time it was just called adolescent delinquency and addressed as such. In Watson’s case it lasted from age sixteen to age eighteen and a half. At New Year 1997 he was twenty six and his period of delinquency almost eight years in the past. His record of violence was a single conviction for ‘common assault’ ten years earlier at age sixteen, penalty a $250 fine.

For the most part, his youthful misbehaviour was confined to the consumption of marijuana and the illicit use of other people’s cars - and bicycles. There are literally thousands of men – and women – who have similar and much worse histories than this who also came through it all and became law-abiding citizens. But the disappearance of Ben and Olivia called for a vicious pervert and whether deliberately or not, the police inquiry saw Watson’s modest delinquency converted into the unique history of a sex-crazed monster.

This is a process which continues today, as the press publishes story after story about him in prison. Their headlines invariably draw together the words ‘sex’ and ‘killer’ in referring to Watson and so we, the readers, are constantly told that he is a killer and a rapist – a creature as base as it is possible to be. Commonly the sources of the stories are anonymous. Commonly they suggest that somehow he misbehaves sexually inside prison with people who are outside it. Over the last three years they are the only stories I have noticed in the press about anyone misbehaving in prison. Scott Watson is apparently the sole inmate miscreant.

It is apparently important to someone somewhere that Watson be maintained a sex crazed killer in the public mind

The most recent such story when Trial by Trickery went to press was addressed in the book at the last minute. It had been widely published in the media in September 2006 and claimed Scott Watson had sent a photo of his genitals, taken on a cellphone camera, to a fifteen year old girl.

But the story was a fake. Someone had written anonymously to the prison authorities making the accusation against Watson. The letter did not explain who the girl was nor how Watson came to know her. It stated he had, somehow, been unfaithful to his wife but did not explain how he managed this other than by alleging that he sent a photo of his genitals to the fifteen year old. Yet again the headlines combined ‘killer’ and ‘sex’ with ‘Watson’.

Only Radio New Zealand listeners will know the truth of the tale. Here is the full transcript of the Checkpoint programme, 14 September 2006:

Radio NZ:  Checkpoint, 14 September 2006:
Prison authorities investigating claims that convicted double murderer Scott Watson sent cellphone pics of his genitals to a fifteen year old girl have cleared the killer but have no idea who is responsible. An anonymous letter making the claims and signed “anxious parents was sent to Christchurch prison this week. It included cellphone photos of the inside of a prison. Paul Rushton is the acting southern general Manager with the corrections department.

Rushton Ah, the letter just explained that she’d received unacceptable pixt photos and she was quite worried about this as this young lady was fifteen years old. Obviously we took that very seriously and were concerned also, that it was a young lady.
Checkpoint So she had been receiving messages and pictures from him on her cellphone?
Rushton Allegedly, yes
Checkpoint Pictures of his genitals?
Rushton That is what was suggested, however we did not receive that from her. That was an allegation made in the letter.
Checkpoint You haven’t seen any evidence of that? You haven’t seen any of the pictures?
Rushton No, unfortunately. We did receive some pictures but the pictures are of what we’ve identified as a cell block, and part of a prison cell block that we can confirm that prison cell block is not of Christchurch prison.
Checkpoint So it would seem odd to be getting photos allegedly from Watson that are not of the prison where he is at?
Rushton I would agree with that.
Checkpoint What kind of credence are you giving to the claims in the letter then Given that it is anonymous?
Rushton Well it is not a matter of taking giving it credence. It’s about taking it seriously when a member of the public have received pictures of parts of a prison allegedly through ah pxt photos we’ve got to take it seriously. It’s unacceptable that this could occur and so therefore were taking it seriously. We’ve involved the police and we’ve carried out an investigation ourselves.
Checkpoint So the pictures are of what prison then?
Rushton I can’t confirm that but I can confirm that by design they are not of Christchurch prison.
Checkpoint Have you spoken to Watson?
Rushton Mmm, yes we have, and as part of a search procedure we’ve talked to a number of people.
Checkpoint Has he got a cellphone?
Rushton No we did not find any cellphone and we used our, we’ve got new cell, we’ve got new  cellphone detection equipment and we were unsuccessful with that and we were unsuccessful with a physical search, we did not find any cellphone.
Checkpoint It would seem rather astonishing actually that if the parents were so concerned about this that they would not give you their names. What would stop them from doing that?
Rushton Perhaps receiving anything from a prisoner, inside a prison would intimidate any person and I personally can understand why they might be in fear of actually identifying themselves. It’s a little bit unfortunate that they did not send us a photo of the prisoner….
Checkpoint They had a photo of the prisoner?
Rushton No. If they had a photo of him through the pxt photos and they had sent that in it would have made it a lot easier for us. There’s a possibility, a strong possibility, that someone is doing this on another prisoner’s behalf or naming another prisoner so therefore we’ve got to be very very careful in how we carry out our investigation, but it’s important that we do carry out the investigation.
Checkpoint But do you think there is a possibility that the whole thing is bogus?
Rushton No, I don’t think it’s bogus at all because they are definitely pictures of a prison. There is a possibility that the prisoner named, may be bogus. That prisoner may be being, set up, for a better word.
Checkpoint Have you come across this situation before, then?
Rushton On numerous occasions, there’ll be examples of where people will give information about a prisoner which is not true.
Checkpoint And the actual photos of the prison, what sort of details are in that?
Rushton Ahh, they are generalized they are just of a wing. They do not show any prisoners. They just show the inside of the unit.
Checkpoint So does that mean that you can see a row of cells or something like that?
Rushton Correct. I am sending to other prisons and they can try to ascertain the unit…. But even then it would be difficult to confirm who the prisoner would be.
Checkpoint Unless you can get more information as far as your concerned the matter more or less stops here?
Rushton We can’t take it any further. We would certainly like that person to come forward and give us more information but your correct if we don’t get any more information there’s not a lot we can do.
Checkpoint And Scott Watson is not under investigation?
Rushton No, He is not.

And that is Paul Rushton from the Corrections Department.