Chronology of Events…

Operation Tam Investigation

Timeline of events Operation TAM Marlborough Sounds murder equiry into the disappearance of Ben Smart and Olivia Hope at Furneaux Lodge on New Years Eve 1998 and the subsequent wrongful conviction of Scott Watson

1 Jan 98

Hope and Smart disappear.

2 Jan 98

Hope and Smart reported missing. Police initiate aerial search by helicopter.

3 Jan 98

Flyers are posted in local hotels. EPIRB signal heard by satellite and planes. [Doc 30816] Wallace draws sketch of ketch.

4 Jan 98

Amelia Hope describes mystery man as white, slim and quite tall. Late twenties.

Jan 98

Police call at 55 Hampden St. looking for Scott Watson. Wallace expands on stern of ketch. Sketches stern.

Jan 98

Christchurch police called in. Pope takes over. Scott Watson attends Picton police station for first interview. Mahony states that Watson returns to boat, alone, at 4:00 am. First statement taken from Amelia Hope. Police seem to avoid requesting description of mystery man.

Jan 98

Scott Watson attends Picton police station. Second interview. Search warrants issued for Blade, 55 Hampden St. and 15a Hampden St. Blink photograph of Scott Watson taken by police photographer. Walsh’s describe ketch at Furneaux and sighting on 2/ 1/ 98. Morresey describes hair of mystery man as wavy and shoulder length.

Jan 98

Wallace constructs Identikit of mystery man. It is assumed that Wallace is shown a single photo of Scott Watson on this day. From his 11/ 1/ 98 video interview it can be taken that he was shown this before constructing the identikit. Scott Watson is fingered by Mary Hodren a local police officer [doc 30915] as ‘fitting description totally’

10 Jan 98

Hair collected from Hope residence.

11 Jan 98

Montage A is constructed. Contains photo taken on 8/ 1/ 98 as number 6. Wallace video interview. Wallace is accused of involvement with missing pair and with Scott Watson. Police focus on Scott Watson. Horseshoe life buoy sighted in Cook Strait by yachtsman and crew. Not retrieved. Police briefing note refers to Wallace being shown montage.

12 Jan 98

Scott Watson Interviewed at Picton from 12:30 PM until 8:30pm. Is accused of involvement with missing pair. Sister Sandra interviewed for similar period at Blenheim. Is also accused of involvement. Blade seized and 55 and 15a Hampden St. Searched. Police are committed to course of action. From this date all private searches focus on areas within the area Blade could have been or was seen. [Doc 13282 refers] EPIRB of 3/ 1/ 98 is explained away, although no conclusion is reached.

13 Jan 98

Blade examined for fingerprints. Fifteen prints taken from interior. Landreth notes that every hard surface had been thoroughly wiped down. [Doc 10740]. Various hair and fibre samples sent to ESR. Letter from Sandy Watson found beneath mattress of forward berth although this berth is not officially searched until the next day. Poly light examination for hairs and fibers.

14 Jan 98

Tiger blanket removed from forward berth (exhibit YA69) Visual inspection of berth reveals one blonde hair on pillow. It could be assumed that Blanket was visually inspected at this time as well. Luminol testing of squabs and interior of Blade. Blood spots consistent with cut foot are found on carpet. No other significant blood found. Ketch is first discounted publicly by police. Scott Watson is named by media as owner of Blade. Police tell news media that Scott Watson is ‘similar to mystery man. Erie Bay caretaker says Watson arrived 10:00 am. Typo in caretaker's daughter’s statement could also say 10:00 am. Son says about lunchtime. Scott Watson gives blood sample and is told by lawyers to leave town. Police have evidence that painting of Blade is planned prior to new year and of cut foot.

15 Jan 98

Radford photo is held by police. Fingerprint examination completed. No mention of difficulties caused by cleaning or "wipe marks" in fingerprint officer’s job sheets. At about this time montage A photo of watson is changed for one taken on 12/1/98.

16 Jan 98

Tiger blanket (YA69) received at ESR Auckland to be tested for hairs, fibres and blood. Numerous other hairs and fibers also delivered. Landreth finds self-steering wind vane stored under cockpit sole. Assumes it is "hidden".

19 Jan 98

Tiger blanket Shaken and tape lifted. 389 hairs of various descriptions collected but neither counted nor classified. Police release map showing positions of sightings of Blade to media. All bar staff of bars and hotels in Picton are canvassed re connection between Scott and Sandy Watson and Guy Wallace. No connection found.

22 Jan 98

Hairs collected from YA69 examined for colour and presence of root material. None are found. Only blonde hairs considered, as Smart’s hair is similar in colour to Watson’s. Effort to isolate hair from Smart nil.

26 Jan 98

Pope refuses to discuss whether Blade had anchor aboard when seized although news photos plainly show this.

27 Jan 98

YA69 returned to Blenheim.

28 Jan 98

Shakespeare Bay Sludge pond drained and searched. Media reports that friends of Scott Watson have been invited to implicate him in drug dealing by police. Hair samples from YA69 screened for blonde hairs. None are found.

30 Jan 98

Criticism of police handling of investigation by ex police officers.

31 Jan 98

Wallace and Furneaux bar staff view TV1 video of Scott Watson and say that he is not the mystery man. Minister of Police becomes involved.

5 Feb 98

Police defend cost of inquiry and other criticisms. Case becomes political with entrance of Elder, Doone et al. Suspect profile of Scott Watson is distributed during briefing for private search.

Feb 98

Anderson states that he took a lone male to a vessel referred to as Blade. 2:30 to 3:00 am. Describes Watson and Blade. Identifies Blade from photograph. Says photo 6 in montage A (Watson) is closest to appearance of man taken to Blade. Massive private search undertaken. Focus on areas that Watson has been seen in or could have traveled to.

Feb 98

Morresey describes boat. Mostly confirming Wallace’s description.

Feb 98

ESR scientist Wilson returns to Blenheim examines deck area of Blade for hairs and fibres. Also Luminol test of deck and dinghy.

10 Feb 98

Amelia Hope first describes receding hairline of mystery man.

13 Feb 98

Cleaning theory floated by Landreth. Wording of this job sheet turns every action into a sinister act. Conclusions drawn regarding wind vane being hidden and squab covers. Suggests that Blade was painted while at sea.

19 Feb 98

Blade returned to water for ‘further testing’. Statements of important witnesses begin to change.

21 Feb 98

Various telephones and addresses linked to Scott Watson are subjected to electronic surveillance by police under interception warrant. Blade undergoes ‘sea trials’ Tides at this time are neaps as opposed to spring tides at 1/1/398. Blade found to be capable of 5.0 knots at 2800 rpm. Full throttle being 2900 rpm.

Landreth measures freeboard of Blade and Furneaux Lodge Naiad. Finds difference of 16 cm. High level of publicity.

24 Feb 98

Police first seek to obtain Watson’s presence at identification parade. Will not provide details of who is to view parade.

2 Mar 98

Watson’s girlfriend inspects Blade with police at Picton. Is recruited by police and reports conversations and movements from this point. Reconstruction of Naiad voyage with Moressey. Attempt to ‘reason’ with Moressey. Says Blade is not as high as ketch. [Doc 20829]

Mar 98

Statement taken from Gay senior re boat seen in Cook Strait on 1/ 1/ 98. Identifies Blade from two photos of same boat.

Mar 98

Anderson states that trip to Blade could have been as late as 4:00 am. Gay junior gives statement re boat seen in Cook Strait on 1/ 1/ 98. Shown two photos of Blade. Both Gay’s living at same address.

Mar 98

Forward hatch removed from Blade. It is first recorded that Wallace has drawn sketch of ketch on 3/ 1/ 98.

Mar 98

STO5 hair samples examined. YA69 hair samples reexamined and two hairs YA69/12 and YA69/13 found.

10 Mar 98

Caretaker’s daughter interviewed in Matamata. Changes statement. Arrival time now 5:00 pm, Son (9yrs) changes time to 3:00 pm.

11 Mar 98

Picton dump searched for hair.

12 Mar 98

Erie Bay caretaker attends court re cannabis charge. Interviewed pre hearing, now remembers Scott Watson arriving at about 5:00 pm 1/ 1/ 98

20 Mar 98

Blade returned to Shakespeare Bay mooring complete with listening devices. Police state that it has been returned to its owner and that they have no further interest in it. McNeilly states photo 3 montage B is most like man in bar but needs more beard and hair.

26 Mar 98

Local junkies and pharmacist interviewed re Scott Watson. Unknown to these people.

7 Apr 98

YA69 (blanket) returned to Auckland ESR lab to be tested for saliva.

10 Apr 98

Blade removed to Lyttleton by Watson family.

14 Apr 98

Bedding ex 55 Hampden St. sent to ESR Auckland. Test is for hairs, blood and saliva.

20 Apr 98

Wallace non-identification occurs at Blenheim police station. States that eyes of photo 3 are similar but needs more hair and beard.

24 Apr 98

Police tell media that they are not investigating any other boats. No other boats have at this stage been searched in the manner of Blade.

21 Apr 98

Bruce Davidson replies to letter from police dated 10/ 4/ 98 requesting Scott’s attendance at an identification parade. Details reasons for refusal and points out failures of police to cooperate. [Doc 40870] Statement re vessel Dausoko says arrived at Tory entrance 5:00 pm 1/ 1/ 98 from Wellington. Police profile of boat says 2:00 pm.

1 May 98

Two blue denim shirts sent to ESR for comparison with Photo’s Reference to a third denim shirt by Watson’s girlfriend. Amelia Hope shown Montage B says hair of photo 1 is similar to that of mystery man when pressed.

May 98

Deep-water search begins in area near Marine Head. This search is based on statements from the family Edwards. [Doc.11260] the progression of these statements is of interest.

13 May 98

Erie Bay caretaker given suspended sentence. Charged with growing cannabis for supply (200 plants).

16 May 98

Conclusion of deep-water search with recovery of Outward Bound sail. Equipment for this search includes body bags. There is no mention of information other than Edward’s statements to justify a decision to search this area.

Jun 98

Sample of foam sent to ESR, testing of hatch begins.

15 Jun 98

Scott Watson is arrested and charged with murder x 2. Fitzgerald’s tape recorder chances to fail allowing verbaling of arrest. Search warrants executed on Blade, East Belt, Rangiora, and 15a and 55 Hampden St. Picton. Also vessel Circe. Blade retaken. Paint stained squabs from under bridge deck are photographed and sent to ESR for testing. Paint absorption of foam fond to be consistent with depth of cut in settee squab.

28 Jun 98

Phantom can thrower attacks Scott Watson in court appearance. Is fined $400. It is revealed that he is ex police officer. He later commits suicide.

24 Jul 98

Watson allegedly confesses involvement to prison witness K [B] while at Addington prison.

Jul 98

Watson allegedly confesses involvement to prison witness J [A] while at Addington prison.

3 Sept 98

Sir Thomas Fry interviewed re ownership of ‘Lonebird’.

25 Mar 99

First mention of source of montage photographs taken 12/1/ 98 by Fitzgerald.

29 Mar 99

Blade examined by defence. Scratch marks on hatch found to extend past coming. Gummer finds ten marks cannot be made with hatch closed.

25 May 99

Defense advised verbally that crown intends to call secret witness A. No documentation supplied.

11 Jun 99

ESR finally counts and categorises hairs from YA69.

14 Jun 99

Trial begins.

11 Sep 99

Jury returns guilty verdict. Prime minister Shipley calls Hopes to "congratulate" them.

7 Oct 99

Scott Watson due to appear re non-parole period. Bruce Davidson requests adjournment as crown law submissions had only arrived at his office at 5:30 pm the evening before. Hearing is set down for 26/11/99.

26 Nov 99

Scott Watson awarded 17-year non-parole period. Labeled "psychopath" by Heron J. Sentence to reflect age of Hope. Smart once again neglected.

27 Nov 99

General election.

1 Feb 00

Sir Thomas Fry arrested in Australia attempting to import some $200 million (NZ) worth of cocaine. Vessel used is Ngaire Wha, a ketch. Reports quote police as having been involved in operation for, variously, 18 months or two years.

Jul 00

Navy undertakes underwater search of area of Cook Strait for police. Statements of Gay senior and junior are the only apparent Justification for this search.

3 Nov 00

Secret witness A recants and accuses police of fabricating his statement. Police refer to PCA "Cannot comment as incident is under investigation.

27 Nov 00

NcNeilly provides sworn statement that Watson was not man at Furneaux Lodge Bar.

17 Mar 01

Christopher Greig arrested for murder of Keri Stephens in Nelson. Was reported to police as suspect in Hope/ Smart case 9/ 1/ 98.

26 Mar 01

Defense continues to await disclosure of Cook Strait search result.

30 Mar 01

Graeme O’Brian acquitted of receiving at second trial. Relates to Securitas robbery in Blenheim. Secret witness B is involved in this case as a secret witness. Information via courthouse cell wall.


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