MRG videos on Scott Watson case turn into public laughing stock as major errors confirmed

The Maritime Research Group’s project to free double killer Scott Watson has collapsed tonight after it issued yet another false report on the controversial murder case.

The MRG, stung by revelations it got its facts wrong in its mystery ketch investigation, hit back on Christmas Eve with a three page ‘rebuttal’ circulated privately to Watson’s supporters.

Now, that rebuttal has been leaked, and its claims also proven to be false. (Download MRG rebuttal here: rebuttal-to-wisharts-tirade-2 )

That leaves the credibility of its entire investigation in tatters.

The “rebuttal’ has Wishart’s original claims followed by the MRG response. Here’s how the rebuttal got torn apart:

1 – WISHART CLAIM “Promoted the pompous-sounding ‘master mariners’ report into the mystery ketch”
MRG RESPONSE: Wrong – We have never used the claimed pompus sounding name ”Master Mariner Report”

THE REAL FACTS: Warwick Jenness told TVNZ the report was based on expert witnesses: “These witnesses included professional skippers, a tug master, a master mariner, harbour master, boat builder, charter operators, a coast watch officer and a recognised maritime historian, as well as a number of experienced yachties.” The Free Scott Watson page that Jenness contributes to frequently refers to it as “the master mariners report”

3 – WISHART CLAIM: EMBARRASSMENT #1: a vast conspiracy of ketches”
MRG RESPONSE: Wrong – All witnesses throughout Marlborough identified the same large off shore ketch, most from the refined drawing compiled from expert witnesses in Mapua, Nelson, New Plymouth, Manakau and Mangonui. The same ketch is identical to a drawing by Ted Walsh done at the time but which we discovered two years later. A two page questioner was completed by witnesses to enable us to evaluate each vessel sighting during our investigation.


Further down their rebuttal the MRG admit to at least three ketches in the conspiracy. We will get to that later. For now, Ted and Eyvonne Walsh and their passengers saw a barge: “It was a ketch, would have been 40 or 45 feet long, bargey looking, the front was quite pointy and the back of it was squarish but not really squared. I would say the back was a bit tapered. It had a cockpit at the back which gave it a Chinese Junk look to me.(Eyvonne)”… “The raised back was squared off and because of the high back it definitely looked like a junk.(Kyle Ramsay)” … “the unusual part was where the cabin was placed at the rear, and the shape of the gunwales. Very old style—like a Chinese junk. (Kevin Ries)”



Guy Wallace didn’t see a square backed ketch. He said it was a rounded one: “It had a bulbous transom (refer sketch). [NEW] A transom is the stern of the boat—where the stern leaves the water.”



The witnesses of a ketch at Mapua near Nelson did not see the Walshe’s Chinese Junk: ““On Saturday 3 January 1998 at 3.30 pm I observed a yacht at Mapua Wharf.  It had a rounded stern, it was a ketch and it was definitely blue and white. (Graham Satherley)”… “On either 3 or 4 January 1998 I saw a 2 masted yacht tied up to a modern fibreglass yacht which was itself tied up to the wharf at Mapua.  I don’t remember the name of either yachts.  I noticed the 2 masted yacht at about 7.00 pm.  It was only there one night. I never saw anybody with the yacht or on board this yacht.  The yacht was about 52 foot long.  It had 2 timber masts.  It had rigging made of ropes.  It had unpainted timber decks. (Jeffrey Sword)”-


4 WISHART FIRST REPORT – On 2 Jan, Eyvonne Walsh reported seeing a ketch-rigged “barge” off Resolution Point, with a blonde girl on the back. Could be any blonde girl (and was in fact Holly Pickering on the Alliance)
MRG RESPONSE: Wrong – “Alliance” left Furneaux anchorage at 9.30am arrived Tawa Bay 10.30am then across to Punga Cove 3.30pm. staying all day in Endeavour Inlet. Consequently the “Alliance” could not have been at the Northern tip of Ship Cove. Also the Walsh’s were anchored off the northern point of Ship Cove not Resolution Point (Bay) as claimed.

WISHART CONFIRMS REAL FACTS: The biggest most fundamental error Warwick Jenness and the MRG make here is their claim that Alliance left Furneaux at 9.30am on 2 January and sailed across to Punga Cove. This was what happened the day before – 1 January. The MRG are a day out. Alliance did not “arrive” at Punga on 2 January – it “left” Punga on 2 January, as Alliance skipper Peter Kennedy told police: “On 2 January 1998 the Alliance left Punga Cove and it was decided to go fishing in the area of Long Island. We motored out into Queen Charlotte and it was a rough lumpy sea and the girls on board did not like the conditions that much. On the map you have faxed me we travelled out of Endeavour Inlet and headed towards Long Island. We would have got out just past the point of Resolution Bay.”

Which brings us to the second big clanger from the MRG “experts” in their fake rebuttal: the claim that the Walshes did not see the mystery ketch off the point of Resolution Bay. Here is what Eyvonne Walsh told police:

“We set off at about 9.00 am for a fishing trip. We anchored just off the point of Resolution Bay when a ketch sailed past. It was the same or very similar to the one I have earlier described. I even commented about, “Here’s this Chinese junk again”.
“It was heading out toward Port Jackson under steam, not sail…It was long with hatch at back. It had two masts. The most noticeable things were the portholes, they were dark blue and round—about five or six of them.
“The other thing was all the ropes were coming off the two masts—it reminded me of a sailing boat. I don’t recall anything specific about the people on board except to say there were people on it. I looked at the boat as opposed to
who was on it.”

A third witness, former All Black Greg Feek who was on the Walsh charter boat, makes it a slam dunk, confirming he saw the mystery ketch where Eyvonne did: “This boat came from Scott Point and headed up to Motuara Island.”
Scott Point is the headland—“the point”—that marks the north head of Endeavour Inlet, and the south head of Resolution Bay. If the boat is coming from Scott Point it is sailing across the entrance to Resolution Bay, not Ship Cove. If Feek saw it come from Scott Point he must have been in Resolution Bay at the time, which backs up Eyvonne Walsh’s version of events. Continued reliance on the Ted Walsh Ship Cove sighting, without acknowledging the Eyvonne/Feek/Kennedy evidence placing the boat in Resolution Bay five kilometres south and consistent with the known Alliance position, is dishonest.

7 WISHART FIRST REPORT – That afternoon (4 Jan) a ketch is seen back at Pelorus Sound, but suddenly the missing couple are spotted sightseeing on a “runabout” (off the ketch again), – more
MRG RESPONSE: Wrong – The missing couple were not seen on a runabout on the 4th of January

WISHART RESPONSE: Warwick Jenness and the MRG published this timeline. Read the entry for 4 January, then marvel at their utter incompetence:


9 – WISHART FIRST REPORT – On 6 Jan, another witness says he was sailing to Nydia Bay when he saw a white ketch with Ben & Olivia on board and a mystery man with grey hair. This was says MRG dramatically, the last sighting
of Ben & Olivia.
MRG RESPONSE: Wrong – The young girl that was later identified by the witness as Olivia Hope was seen in the morning. The bow man had red hair, the crewman aft had pitch black hair not grey hair. Later that day a similarly described vessel was seen at Canoe Bay with a young man and blond girl on board by Father Phillip King-Turner and Audrey King-Turner. There were no further sightings of the young couple after that afternoon.


Look at the sketch of the Pine Bay/Nydia Bay ketch from their video, with a greying man in the front. It is white with a cream cabin. Of course the witness didn’t know Olivia from a bar of soap, but the woman in the back becomes Olivia for the sake of a good ketchspiracy theory. Note also how it does not look like the bargey Chinese junk with the wheelhouse cabin at the back seen by the Walshes.


Now look at the Canoe Bay ketch from their video.  Suddenly it is a yellow and white ketch, not blue and white.


10 WISHART FIRST REPORT- Must have been some kind of super-duper international drugs cartel with the ability to commandeer six ketches and a runabout in the Marlborough Sounds alone at short notice on a public holiday – more
MRG RESPONSE: Wrong – There are three ketches involved The Mystery Ketch (Antares), The blue Mary’s Bay Ketch, The Nydia Bay Ketch
There was one Marlborough runabout involved.


I listed the six different boats in the first report, but even if Ben & Olivia were swapped between three different ketches that’s already three times the number of mystery ketches the public thought were involved, and they were already pushing their luck with just one. The MRG must think Free Scott Watson supporters are congenitally stupid to believe a ketchspiracy theory involving three different vessels and their crews. Let’s remind ourselves also that the blue Mary’s Bay ketch is owned by the Le Cheminant family of Picton – work colleagues of Scott Watson’s father Chris Watson and mightily angry about being defamed by the mad tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theorists at the MRG. The yellow runabout has been positively identified as belonging to a devout Buddhist and his then wife. They did not abduct Ben and Olivia on the personal orders of Pablo Escobar.

11 WISHART FIRST REPORT- EMBARRASSMENT #2: OLIVIA’S RADIO CALL FOR ‘HELP’ “Tape for 2 January 1998 reviewed again between 1500 and 1700 hours. At exactly 1615 hours on 2 January 1998 a female voice can be heard saying, “Hello, hello”. She then proceeds to breathe deeply, ie, simulated sex. There is no doubt that the call was someone being stupid. Following the deep breathing the operator can be heard saying that it was an emergency channel only and not to be used for personal banter. – more
MRG RESPONSE: Wrong – Channel 64 is not monitored by Wellington Radio. Channel 64 is the frequency the ketch VHF would have been set to, as it is a marine working frequency in the sounds. There was evidence that the operator had no maritime radio experience so would not be aware that channel 16 was the maritime distress frequency. The distress message from the ketch was received and logged by Coastguard in Wanganui on channel 64 Over the holiday period frequent miss use of the VHF is common and heavy breathing on channel 16 is regarded as cool by certain types.


My first report confirmed the witness yachtie heard the call on Chan 16, not 64. The tape confirmed the call happened on Chan 16, not 64. Chan 64 is not a special frequency for the Sounds. In fact it only works on line of sight to the repeater (Wanganui) which isn’t much good in the fiords. There are other frequencies with repeaters based in the sounds but Chan 64 was not one of them. In fact the incompetent Jenness appears to be mixing up the 2 Jan afternoon call with a New Year’s day radio call picked up by some young boys playing with a couple of kids walkie-talkies bought from The Warehouse. Those radios operated on the CB radio frequencies around 27 MHz . They did not have the tuning circuits capable of picking up marine VHF signals at around 160 MHz, nor would the Warehouse have been permitted to sell radios to children capable of transmitting on marine VHF. The only way the walkie talkies could have picked up a VHF transmission was if the kids were sitting literally next to the boat making the transmission, allowing the power of the VHF signal to overload them. However, on the facts, this is irrelevant. MRG reported a 2 Jan call from Olivia allegedly saying “help”, we found the witness who reported it to police and he told them it was Chan 16; police found a recording of the call and it was a woman saying ‘hello’ not ‘help’. End of.

12 WISHART FIRST REPORT – EMBARRASSMENT #3: OLIVIA AND BEN SET OFF AN EPIRB. It is true an EPIRB was activated 3 Jan, but the signal doesn’t reveal the names of the people setting it off – more.
MRG RESPONSE: Irrevelant – In 1998 beacons operating on 121.5 Mhz were primitive by todays standards. The COSPAS-SARSAT Satellite required two passes to obtain a fix. It took approximately one hour between passes. The EPIRB picked up by NZLUT was operational for only 45 minutes so a satellite fix was not possible. The Air NZ aircraft east of Nelson received the signal but did not deviate from scheduled route to home in on it. The aircraft sent out from Wellington with DF capability to locate the EPIRB lost the signal shortly after take off. As a result it is unclear how NZLUT established the location specified if indeed it was the particular EPIRB off the ketch. The fluctuating signal strength indicated that the transmission originated within a nearby land locked location, typically the Marlborough Sounds.


Like I said originally, the signal was pinpointed through triangulation between the satellite and Air New Zealand jets, as the police document confirms: “1042 local on 3 Jan 98, ANZ Boeing 73 heard an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) when 75 miles north of Christchurch.          121.5 Mhz, ELT detected by COSPAS C6/4155 satellite at 2140 hrs UTC on 2 Jan 1998 – that is 1040 on 3 Jan 98, local time.  Message received at 1050 local.  Derived positions, (a) 37 34S, 125.51W and (b) 41 31S, 174.47E (the satellite is unable to determine which side of its track the ELT is positioned, on an initial pass).  The (b) position coincided with the aircraft detection.          11.08 local, Life Flight Trust fixed wing aircraft ZK-POD, fitted with WHFDF, (a piece of kit that enables it to home in on a ELT transmission), was tasked to go to (b) position and locate the source.          At 2247 [UTC] ZK-POD was over the position and the crew were unable to detect any transmissions, but completed a visual search of about 10 nm around the position without sighting anything.”

Point of logic to consider: MRG’s rebuttal above argues the signal was too unreliable to be accurately pinpointed. But if that’s true, how do they justify saying in their videos that the signal came from Pelorus Sound? Never let the facts get in the way of a good #fakenews story. Secondly, the point of emergency beacons is to give search and rescue a location. That’s how they work. Warwick Jenness and MRG are defending the indefensible, making them either incompetent or corrupt in my view.

MRG RESPONSE: Wrong – The Picton witness saw Olivia Hope on Saturday evening 3 January and told her mother and best friend the next day what she had seen the night before. All confirm it was the 4th as they returned home that day from holiday to start work on Monday 5 January The witness did also go to Picton on 31 December and ended the night seriously intoxicated after partying.


Just how incompetent is the Maritime Research Group? They are like the Dad’s Army of maritime research. Look at their timeline above. At the very time they have Ben and Olivia supposedly seen on a ketch berthed at Mapua wharf near Nelson, they claim Olivia called out to a friend to help. They now appear to be admitting what I originally said, which is the sighting was far away in Picton, not Mapua, but self proclaimed ‘expert’ Jenness is desperately clinging to the 3 January date for some reason even though it throws his Mapua fairy story out the window.

It was in fact 1 January, just as I said. Jenness has not read Veralynn’s evidence documents anywhere near carefully enough.

22 January 1998 Statement of Veralynn Hope (no relation to Olivia Hope)

“On New Years Eve this year I was in Picton…When we went into town we went to the Federal Hotel…About an hour and a half after leaving the Federal Hotel, I was walking past the Federal Hotel again by myself. There were still lots of people around in the streets. I don’t know what direction they came from but when I was at the door of the Federal I saw Olivia HOPE… ”

She didn’t see her on 3 January. It was on New Year’s morning about 4am. It is true she didn’t tell her mother until 4 Jan, the day after her mum arrived home from holiday, as Catherine Knight told police:

“On New Year’s the family minus Veralynn went out of town to the Hot Springs before Hanmer. On Saturday 3 January 1998 we got back from holiday and it wasn’t until the next day that I saw her. She told me that she saw Olivia”

Best friend Natasha Rangiuaia confirmed it was New Year’s:

“I distinctly remember when it was midnight because people started counting for New Year’s.  It was quite funny because there was like three countdowns going at different times to one another.  It was like one would start and the next would follow.

“Veralyn wasn’t with us at that stage but she did come over and give me a kiss and wish me a happy new year.  She did the same to the others and then went back to going around the court yard area and seeing other people.  I don’t know who exactly and most of the time I lost sight of her completely for periods of time.

“I know it was after midnight but I don’t know exactly what time it was when Veralyn came back over to me. At the time I think I was standing with Graeme and perhaps a couple of others, I can’t exactly say who though. Anyway, Veralyn came up to me and in the course of talking to me she said, “I caught up with Olivia HOPE”.  That was all she said.”

So, no-one doubts the incident was New Year’s morning (except the Maritime Research Group). Which then causes a big problem for the conspiracy theory: Olivia was still at Furneaux at 4am. She could not have been at the Federal in Picton. Veralynn Hope was drunk and stoned. As I said in the first report she didn’t even know Olivia to speak to. There’s no doubt she believed her memory, but it was a false memory. The MRG continue to exploit this woman.

If the MRG’s “master mariners” actually knew how to investigate anything, they would have discovered it could not possibly have been Olivia Hope. Here’s why.

Veralynn told police that around 20 mins after she saw Olivia, an ambulance arrived: “When I saw the person that I thought was Olivia going into the Federal it would have been about 20 minutes before I saw the ambulance arrive”

The ambulance was responding to a fight, friend Graham Wikaira told police: “I remember also that just before we got a taxi to leave there was a street fight and everyone got involved. That sort of made us leave.”

Natasha Rangiuaia confirmed this: “The only thing of any real significance that night was a fight outside the ‘Terminus’ bar which involved a girl named Janelle ROBB and a couple of others who I don’t know”.

So, knowing the Olivia sighting happened before the ambulance, police rang the hospital:

“Ring Wairau Hospital and speak to:


Charge Nurse

Wairau Hospital A & E Department

Request her to locate for me the times of any ambulance despatches to Picton overnight on New Year’s Eve.

States: “The only ambulance sent to the Picton area was near to Anakiwa in the Sounds and the other to the Terminus Hotel in Picton. The ambulance that went to the Terminus Hotel in Picton arrived there at 0310 hrs and left at 0321 hrs.  It brought a person through to Wairau Hospital.”

So there you have it. Game set match. The Olivia’s friend story is false. At 3.10am on New Year’s morning, Olivia and Ben were definitely still on the Tamarack, two hours further north at Furneaux. The incompetent master mariners can’t even get their rebuttals right.

MRG RESPONSE: Irrelevant – There has been no secret about the identity of the ketch seen in Mary’s Bay. The owner of the ketch did lie to the police about his whereabouts on the 5 January

WISHART RESPONSE: No he did not lie. But Jenness might face a lawsuit for saying so.


MRG RESPONSE: Wrong – The teen age girl and young man seen by the witnesses with the three scruffy individuals in the runabout didn’t match the description of Bruce Farley and his wife Phillipa who were almost
twice Ben and Olivia’s age. Markings on the runabout hull indicated this was a registered work boat. (We intend to persue this matter further)


This is based on a sighting by Richard Futter involving Futter’s false memories. Nowhere in Futter’s police statement is there any mention of a teenage girl and young man, let alone a description. The story is a pure fantasy. The owner of the runabout with the hull markings has confirmed it was his, with his blonde then-wife aboard. The entire MRG conspiracy theory is sinking around them.

For the record, here again is what Futter told police:

“The next day on the 5th of January we left about 9.00am after breakfast. We headed round towards Tennyson Inlet, which is where we were going. As we were going past Mary’s Bay I saw a blue ketch. I knew the Police were looking for a blue ketch so I decided to go into the bay for a closer look.

I have taken a photo of this ketch, which is attached.

The thing I found strange about the ketch was that the name was obstructed by the fenders put over the side. It appeared to me that they had been placed there deliberately.

We got within about 500m. We saw people on the beach near the boat. There appeared to be about three or four people but we weren’t close enough to distinguish any detail about them.

Because I knew the Police were looking for such a ketch I phoned *555 and gave them the exact position of where the ketch was. The call was made at 10.06am.

The house and jetty seen on the photograph is called Homewood. We then left that Bay and went to Maude Island to do some fishing and then went round to Tennyson Inlet and stayed at Ngawhakawhiti Bay spending two nights there.

We sailed back to Wellington on the Sunday night of the 11th of January and arrived back at about 2.30am on the 12th of January.

I have read this and it is true and correct.

R J Futter (signed)

Statement Taken and Signature Witnessed by:

A.J. Saunders

Detective Constable D279

15 Mach 1998



MRG REBUTTAL: Wrong – Mr Wishart is wrong again as he is under the allusion that Mike Kalaugher and Keith Hunter are members of the Maritime Research Group (NZ).
The five members comprised by profession:
Communications engineer (Spokesman)
Dredge Master
Boat Builder
Fire Officer and Launch Owner
Tug Master

WISHART REPONSE TO THIS: on 28 Jan 2016, Stuff reported:

Jenness said the information was based on research dating back a decade and then compiled into a 100-page report sent to ministers, police and the Ministry of Justice. It was confidential because it contained the names of witnesses.

The report claims the mystery ketch in the case, which the Crown contended was no mystery at all, was a boat on a drug run to New Zealand. He said the report identifies a cocaine smuggling ring.

Police have dismissed the claims.

And before we continue, we do have to ask the question: who are the Maritime Research Group? That group’s members include Warwick Jenness, writer Keith Hunter and Mike Kalaugher, all Watson supporters. Jenness is a yachtie and engineer who has spent years researching the case, Hunter is an author who wrote Trial by Trickery in 2006 about the Watson case and directed a 2003 documentary, Murder on the Blade. Kalaugher wrote a 2001 book about the case, The Marlborough Mystery.

So that’s what Jenness allegedly told Stuff. The NZ Herald, which was given the report, said the same:

“The report is the latest public investigative effort into a disappearance. It was written based on research by commercial pilot, engineer and sailor Warwick Jenness with help from yachtie Mike Kalaugher and Keith Hunter, who wrote Trial By Trickery about the case.

One News that day:

The report’s lead author, Warwick Jenness, said the photo was not an integral part of the group’s theory, which was presented to police in 2006-07.

Keith Hunter, who contributed to the report, believes the pair wound up on a ketch that arrived in New Plymouth from the Pacific, going on to visit Nelson and Mapua and Queen Charlotte Sound.

Mr Jenness said an artist’s impression of the mystery ketch, included in the report, was refined using evidence from 52 witnesses.”These witnesses included professional skippers, a tug master, a master mariner, harbour master, boat builder, charter operators, a coast watch officer and a recognised maritime historian, as well as a number of experienced yachties.”

I rest my case. The three MRG videos are a joke. Their official report is a joke. Their timeline is a joke. Back when the media was taking them seriously everyone was happy to take credit. Now apparently Hunter and Kalaugher are ducking for cover as the massive errors are exposed. As the old saying goes, “Success has many fathers, but Failure is a bastard”.

For an accurate video on the Scott Watson case, visit