12 Dec 2016

Olivia Hope's Dad to killer Watson: 'We are both victims'

7:50 am on 12 December 2016

The father of murdered teenager Olivia Hope has told the man convicted of her killing, but who professes his innocence, that they are both victims.

Gerald Hope, left, and Scott Watson, right,

Gerald Hope, left, and Scott Watson, right met last month. Photo: RNZ / Pool

North and South journalist Mike White attended two meetings between Gerald Hope and Scott Watson last month and in a North and South article published today wrote that Mr White told Watson "You and I are both victims. You believe you're a victim".

Watson replied, "I know I'm a victim".

Mr Hope went on to say, "We're a victim. We never got the truth. We haven't got the truth yet."

Ben Smart and Olivia Hope

Ben Smart and Olivia Hope were killed on New Year's Day 1998. Photo: NZ Police

Watson is serving a sentence of life imprisonment with a non-parole period of 17 years for killing Olivia Hope and her friend Ben Smart on New Year's Day in the Marlborough Sounds in 1998.

Their bodies were never found and Watson has always claimed he is innocent. Mr Hope has said their disappearance remained "a mystery".

There was a lengthy legal battle with the Department of Corrections, before White, who has covered the murder case extensively, was allowed to attend the meeting between Mr Hope and Watson.

White wrote that Mr Hope told Watson, "Most people have got the comfort of the police, the legal system having done their job, so that why you're here. That's the bottom line. Most people just get on with their lives, they don't want to have anything change what's already been decided. And I know that, I understand that."

However White said that the meetings weren't straightforward. "There were moments when the gulf between them seemed as wide as it was nearly 19 years ago. The suspicion, the cynicism, the different worlds they lived in."

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