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Life For Watson

Scott Watson's guilty verdict has probably brought to a close the most high profile criminal case in recent years.

The 28 year old boat builder of no fixed abode was accused of murdering Blenheim friends Ben Smart and Olivia Hope on or after New Year's Day 1998. The pair disappeared after a party at Furneaux Lodge in the Marlborough Sounds.

The prosecution's case was based on the proposition that Watson, motivated by lust, lured the two on-board in an opportunistic crime and killed the pair sometime before January 2 1998. The defence contended that another person was responsible and the evidence presented did not prove Hope and Smart were ever on Watson's boat, Blade.

Watson had been the chief suspect in the crime after police decided that sightings of a two masted ketch as the boat the pair may have boarded, were a red-herring. He was arrested after five months of a media feeding frenzy about the two victims, the investigations and the accused.

The trial of many weeks duration came to a close on Thursday and the jury came back to the court yesterday to ask two questions about testimony on witness identity.

Today, just after midday, the court heard in silence the jury announce its decision on both counts of murder. When the verdicts were read out, he said, "You're wrong". Justice Heron sentenced Watson immediately to life imprisonment and said he would hold a hearing on minimum parole dates in early October if any applications were made.

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