Journalist blasts police over fatally flawed Elementary book report


[IN BRIEF]: this news release makes three key points.
1: the police are wrong on point one…statements from Ted Walsh confirm Scott Watson travelled to Picton and was seen painting his boat there on the afternoon of New Year’s Day, which means he was not repainting at Erie Bay on 2 January
2. the police have a massive credibility problem with the evidence they relied on at trial from Zappa and his two children at Erie Bay. The children say Scott’s boat had already been repainted when it arrived at Erie Bay, therefore the court evidence about him painting it at Erie Bay is proven untrue. It also ignores Zappa’s admission to Detective Senior Sergeant Wayne Stringer that Scott Watson admitted to him he had killed Ben and Olivia and threatened Zappa’s daughter if Zappa did not provide a false alibi.
3. the sea time trial police are relying on to rule out the Shakespeare Bay sighting was based on the wrong tidal flow, making the police time trial worthless for debunking the book.

The author of a bestselling book on the Scott Watson case says a police review of the book Elementary is a factually incorrect butt-covering exercise that has overlooked vital evidence.

Ian Wishart says he was briefed by police about their findings ahead of today’s release, and was staggered when the man heading the review, Detective Superintendent Peter Read, was unaware of key witness statements.

“This is the reason I have reprinted witness statements in the two Elementary books, so people can check out for themselves who is telling the right story. While police acknowledge that I am right about Watson being the mystery man and Alliance being the mystery ketch, they are trying to discredit evidence that shows they got the Erie Bay story wrong.

“Police told me there was no evidence that Blade had been repainted on 1st of January, and that they were satisfied the statements of Zappa and his two children about the boat being repainted at Erie Bay on 2 January were correct.

“However, when I asked Police to then explain why Zappa’s children both told detectives in their very first statements that Scott’s boat was already painted blue when it arrived at Erie Bay, Detective Superintendent Read could not provide an answer.

“When I then pointed out the statement from Ted Walsh who confirmed he saw Blade being repainted from red to blue at Picton at 1.56pm on New Year’s Day, Mr Read appeared to be unaware of the statement and confused Walsh with a different witness.”

Police told Wishart the timings of the trip by Blade to Picton’s Waikawa Bay from KuraKura point make it impossible for it to have been the boat seen by three witnesses with what appeared to be bodies being unloaded at Shakespeare Bay 11.30am on New Year’s Day, but Wishart says he’s unsure what evidence police are basing this claim on.

“Police told me the trip from Kurakura Point to Waikawa Bay was timed at two hours by police officer Dave Landreth at the time, but when I asked whether that was on an incoming or outgoing tide, Superintendent Read did not know.

“When I checked Dave Landreth’s reports, I discovered the sea trial Read was basing his analysis on was measured from the wrong direction on the wrong tide for his purposes, making the two hour claim invalid. Landreth was recording a trip the other way to the one Scott took. Police have taken that time trial for one direction 18 years ago and assumed it was valid for the reverse journey as well despite different tides. If that’s the depth of analysis police brought to bear on this review God help us.”

Wishart says he was also concerned that police were relying on new evidence from a Mr Paul Maker as corroboration of Watson painting the boat at Erie Bay on January 2nd.

“Police revealed to me they had never interviewed Maker at the time of the murders, but in my Elementary book I point out that Paul Maker was a key advocate for Scott Watson. Now he has apparently revealed to police that he sailed up to Erie Bay on 2 January and helped Scott paint his yacht there. This is utterly new information, but it is also contradicted by other witnesses.

“I pointed out to police the dubiousness of using new evidence from a Watson advocate to try and shore up their fatally flawed analysis, and I also challenged police over Maker’s claim because of witness statements from people who saw Blade arrive on its own at Erie Bay at 10.30am on 2 January and leave again at midday the same day – those witnesses told police Blade was on its own the whole time.

“The whole police analysis reeks to me of a major exercise in butt-covering that has already come unstuck on the day of its release. If police insist Zappa’s kids told the truth about Scott repainting his boat at Erie Bay, then police have to explain why the children told police Scott’s boat had already been repainted to blue when it first arrived.

“If police insist Blade was only repainted on 2 January at Erie Bay, they have to explain why Ted Walsh positively identified Blade being repainted from red to blue at Picton’s main marina on 1 January.

“The witnesses Robertson and Stevens were both definite that there were two men on board Blade. They made their statements independent of each other. Their statements are reprinted in Elementary. Even if one or both were ‘obsessed’ with the case, where did each get the idea two men were on board? Why did a third witness, Sam Edwards, believe he’d seen two people on board Blade? Where did the painting Blade at sea idea come from, given it was independently corroborated by the Walshes?

“The police have cherrypicked the files to try and discredit a book that shows their trial reasoning was wrong. They missed a chance to really investigate Watson’s movements in the crucial 36 hours after the murders, and they are trying to make excuses.”

Wishart says the key statements are reprinted in Elementary and Elementary 2.0, and some extracts follow for the benefit of the media:


I have just viewed a photo of two boats one red/brown before 1 January 1998 and one blue after 1 January 1998. This was definitely not the boat, which I have referred to in this statement as the ‘chinese junk’.

I can’t recall seeing the boat in this photo in Endeavour Inlet or at Furneaux during New Year’s Eve. However on the 01.01.98 I was with Eyvonne in Waikawa Bay around 2.30 pm [NOTE TO EDITORS, this time was later confirmed as 1.56pm]. This timing is dependent on when I fuelled up. I used a Caltex fuel card which presently is with Eyvonne. What I am about to tell you I have discussed this with Eyvonne and this is my scenario. I believe it was Waikawa Bay because I was going too slow, normally the Bill Fisher would be travelling with speed. I saw the boat in that photo being painted from the red/brown to the blue. The colours in the photo are the ones I saw, the front half of the cabin was red and the back was blue. The guy painting had no shirt on, medium build, wiry, untidy longish/bulky curly black hair around 30-35 years. He wore shorts (unknown colour). He had something in his hand but seemed to have more paint on his hands than on the boat. It struck me that it was odd on New Year’s Day to be painting the boat. It was a good day and he should have been sailing.

It is definitely the boat in the photo. I have never seen the owner of this boat or even the yacht itself prior to this sighting. Because of the news coverage I know it’s owned by a guy WATSON.

Once again this was a passing thing and I only took note of it because Eyvonne commented. I haven’t seen this yacht since.

I have been shown two sketches of a male, the person painting the boat was similar to the larger sketch. The person painting the boat may have had slightly long hair.

I have read this and it is true and correct.

(Signed) E C Walsh

Statement taken and witnessed by:
J D Ferguson
Detective D014
1705 hrs

I think Scott seems a nice guy. I know his last name is WATSON.

I can’t remember much about what was said because I was playing play-station on the TV.

I remember that his yacht was sort of navy blue & white in colour when he arrived.

I have had this statement read to me & it is true & correct.


Statement taken & signature witnessed by:

T P Fogarty


I know Scott. I met him last Christmas here at Erie Bay. I don’t know his last name but I learnt it today. It is WATSON.

Scott came here last Christmas to talk to dad. This was the Christmas before the one just gone.

Scott has got dark brown hair, he is just medium in height, he is skinny. I reckon he would be about in his thirties.

I liked Scott. He watched TV with us.

When Scott came here, he didn’t stay in the house he stayed on his boat.

Scott had a yacht which was white with a brown top. Scott came into shore in his dinghy.

I don’t know how long he stayed here for.

I have never been on his boat before.

Scott came this year around New Years Day. I think it was lunchtime.

He came on his boat. It was a different colour than last year. It was blue on the top.

Scott came ashore. I didn’t see how he got ashore.

Scott was wearing a blue woollen jersey. He had black jeans on too.


It was probably late morning when I saw a boat come into the harbour. It was similar looking to the yacht that you have shown me in the photograph. It was a hard chine yacht, which is the same as the yacht in the picture. The yacht was definitely not red but other than that I do not know what colour it was. I cannot be sure how much of this has been suggested by the news and media. I’d like to say it was definitely that yacht in the picture but I cannot say for sure.

I did not mention about the hard chine in my previous statement because when I originally referred to that yacht I mentioned that it was an older style yacht. It would have been the hard chine on the yacht that made me believe that it was an older style yacht.

After we set nets we would have headed straight over to the MOODY’s. We would have been over by the MOODY’s bay when I saw the yacht. I turned and looked at the yacht and mentioned it to my husband. I’m not sure which direction our yacht was facing. The yacht I saw had the nose of the yacht facing towards the direction of the Cassels which is on the south eastern side of Erie Bay. I would have been about 200 metres from the yacht and about the same distance from the MOODY’s.

I did not see anyone on board the yacht.

The yacht had one mast and it would have been about 24 ft in length.

The yacht was definitely coming into Erie Bay when I saw it on the 2nd of January 1998.

It would have been about late morning or close to twelve o’clock. The reason I am sure about those times is because I know that it wasn’t late afternoon and we hadn’t had lunch yet.

I did not see where it ended up. My impression is that it was going to the Cassels Bay in Erie Bay.

I am not sure if I saw that boat ever again.

We went out in the boat at about 11.30 am from Onapua Bay and we headed around to the Island at the mouth of Erie Bay. We anchored up and did a bit of fishing.

We were on the bay side of the island and I saw a yacht moored on the western side of the bay probably on the mouth of the bay side of the baches that are down that side.

I wouldn’t know if he was moored or anchored up.

I noticed this boat there more or less when we first arrived at about 11.45 am.

From that distance, I could not notice any colours or description of the boat.

It looked like it was a smaller type yacht like a 28 footer from where I was.

At about 12.30 pm about, I looked up and saw a yacht coming out of Erie Bay. It was motoring and appeared to come from the western side of the bay and followed the coast line around towards Picton way. I couldn’t say if it was the same yacht that was moored in Erie Bay but I noticed that the yacht that was moored there earlier was gone when this one went past.

I think that the tide was at about the top of the tide at that time.

It was probably motoring at its hull speed which would probably be about 5 knots for that type of yacht.

I remember seeing someone go down below and I never saw that person come back up again. I didn’t continue to look at it for a long time because we carried on fishing and I never really took much more notice of it.

I could not tell if it was a man or a woman that had gone down below and I did not see what they were wearing or any colours either.

The boat itself was a boat very much like the sloop that the Police have seized. I have been shown a photo of the sloop by Constable HIBBS.

I have seen the boat before about 2 years ago in Picton. I got talking to the owner of the boat at the Ferry wharf where the yachts tie up. The owner had that boat there and I was there on a tug boat called “Kaka”. I just got talking to him and found out that he had built the boat himself. I had a bit in common because I had built a steel hulled boat myself.

I think that he said at the time that he was fishing but had a few days off.

We would have spoken for about 20 minutes or half an hour. I did not learn his name at all.

The boat was coloured barn red that was even slightly pinkish, and it was the same boat as Constable HIBBS has shown me in the photographs.

On the day that I saw the sloop in Erie Bay, I do not remember what colour it was. It looked familiar to me and if it had been the same colour as it was when I saw it two years ago, I probably would have recognised it. I did notice that it had a white hull though.

I noticed that the boat was not a production type boat and what stood out to me was the pronounced sheer line of the boat. Most modern boats are more or less straight across and this one had a more curved sheer line.

It appeared to me to have the Genoa sail tied along the side of the boat but I couldn’t say what side. I think that the main sail was tied along the boom.

I don’t recall if it was towing a dinghy or not. The rear of the boat appeared to be closed in along the back railings.

I noticed that it had self steering gear mounted on the back of the boat.

The boat was motoring close to the coast and may have been about 50 yards or so off shore. The boat was heading in the direction of Picton. I did not notice where it went after this and we carried on fishing.

The day was cloudy and windy and would have been possibly a northerly.

We stayed out there fishing until about 1.30 pm or 2.00 pm when we got back to the camp.

We did not go out again at all in the boat. We left the camp on the 3rd of January.

I have not been back into that part of the Sounds since then. The only time I was near the head of the Queen Charlotte Sounds was when I drove to Havelock the week before last but I think that the sloop was out of the water by then. I did not see it anyway.

I have nothing further to add.

I have read this statement and it is true and correct to the best of my knowledge.

F Sproull (signed)

10741 / JS / BLADE SEA TRIAL / DL4225 / 190298



1530 hrs Load “Blade” onto a transporter and prepare it to leave for Picton.

0700 hrs Leave Woodbourne Air Base with “Blade”.

0800 hrs Arrive at Waikawa Marina.

Immediately launch “Blade” and begin erecting rigging.
Rigging supervised and completed by Mervyn MILLAR, N.Z. Navy, Devonport, Auckland.

Battery checked and re-charged by Rick RAWLINGS, electrician.

1700 hrs Leave “Blade” under Police guard moored in front of the Waikawa Boat Club.

21.02.98 Carry out sea tests on Blade

Those on board:

Captain Alex Van Wijngaarden
Harbour Master,
Marlborough District Council,
Seymour Square,
Ph 578-5249

Det Sgt D J Landreth
Operation Tam

Van Wijngaarden, as well as having many years experience at sea, owns a vessel substantially similar in size and power to “Blade”.

I advise Van Wijngaarden that I wish to travel from Waikawa to Furneaux and then from Furneaux to Erie Bay and then back to Waikawa at what he considers to be about the normal cruising speed of the Blade.

Initial observations of the vessel.

No condensation in the vessel despite there being an extremely heavy dew on the decking and the fact that there was a scene guard inside the cabin almost all of the night.

Log of the journey

0620 hrs Leave Waikawa

0813 hrs Pass Kura Kura Point

0840 hrs Pass Edgecombe Point

0850 hrs Pass Marine Head (37 min – Kura Kura Pt to Marine Head)

0929 hrs Arrive Furneaux (3 hrs 9 min – Waikawa to Furneaux)

Naiad tests

Use Naiad that was used to ferry missing persons on the morning of 1 January 1998 to take measurements in regard to its height above the water and distance to deck and guard rail of “Blade”.

Naiad – Waterline to top of pontoon – 38cm
Blade – Waterline to deck level – 54cm
Blade – Waterline to top of hand rail – 117cm

To catch a similar tide to that which was running at 0700 hrs on 1 January 1998 we need to leave Furneaux at about 1020 hrs (1029 hrs according to Captain WOODS).

1022 hrs Leave Furneaux

1058 hrs Pass Marine Head

1110 hrs Pass Edgecombe Point

1130 hrs Pass Kura Kura Point (Marine head to Kura Kura – 32 min)

1220 hrs Pass Ruaomoko West light

1224 hrs Pass Ruaomoko East light

1255 hrs Arrive at Erie Bay (Cassels mooring )
(Furneaux to Erie bay – 2 hrs 33 min)

1400 hrs Depart Erie Bay

1440 hrs Pass Ruaomoko East light

1445 hrs Pass Ruaomoko West light

1507 hrs In Queen Charlotte Sound off Dieffenbach Point (due to other shipping we had to make a wide turn into Queen Charlotte Sound from Tory Channel).

1629 hrs Arrive at Waikawa and tie up at the marina (6E-15)
(Erie Bay to Waikawa – 2 hrs 29 min)

Weather and sea conditions

Picton to Furneaux : The sea was very calm and there was little or no wind until we were within about a mile from Furneaux and then we faced a slight head wind.

Furneaux to Erie Bay: In Endeavour inlet we had a slight tail wind and the sea was in a very small chop.

On exiting Furneaux Inlet, and until we reached Tory channel, there was only a slight wind coming in from Cook Strait and there was also a moderate swell coming in from the Strait.

Going down Tory Channel and into Erie Bay the sea and wind was fairly calm.

Erie Bay to Waikawa: Heading out of Erie Bay and up Tory Channel there was a brisk head wind although the sea was fairly calm. Going up Queen Charlotte Sound there was a brisk wind from the west. The sea was lumpy.


Blade is equipped with a “Midas” log. This instrument shows the speed of the vessel and also records distance travelled (unfortunately it is an electrical instrument and for part of the journey from Furneaux to Erie Bay it was not turned on)

All of the following speeds were recorded while towing the wooden dinghy.

Travelling down Queen Charlotte Sound towards Furneaux.

5.5 knots RPM=2300

5.5 knots RPM=2600

5 knots RPM=2200 (speed over ground recorded by Tranzrail rescue at this time was 4.5 knots)

Kura Kura Point to Furneaux

4.8 knots RPM=2400

Endeavour Inlet (just before Marine head)

4.5 knots RPM=2400

4.9 knots RPM=2900

Up Tory Channel towards Queen Charlotte Sound

3.6 knots RPM=2500

D J Landreth
Detective Sergeant
Operation Tam
22 February 1998