Scott Watson's case to be taken on by Teina Pora lawyer

by RNZ / 13 December, 2017
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Jonathan Krebs will act for Watson in his application for mercy. Photo / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Jonathan Krebs says he was approached to act for Scott Watson and once he read up on the case his "interest was piqued".

One of the lawyers who helped overturn Teina Pora's wrongful conviction for murder is taking on Scott Watson's case.

Watson has been in prison since 1999 for the murders of Olivia Hope and Ben Smart, who disappeared in the Marlborough Sounds on New Year's Day 1998.

Lawyer Jonathan Krebs will act for Watson in his application for a Royal Prerogative of Mercy.

Mr Krebs said that until recently he, like most New Zealanders, had an awareness of the case but was not familiar with the details.

Having been approached to help, and having read up on the case, he said his "interest was piqued".

The application will be the fourth time Watson has challenged his convictions for the Sounds murders.

Scott Watson pictured in May 2015 at the High Court in Christchurch. Photo: Pool / John Kirk-Anderson

His supporters have said hair sample analysis will be critical to the latest attempt, arguing the science behind it had been questioned in recent years.

A key piece of evidence in the original case was the discovery of two of Olivia Hope's hairs found on Watson's boat.

Watson's previous application for a Royal Prerogative of Mercy, made after unsuccessful appeals to the Court of Appeal and the Privy Council, was turned down by then-Justice Minister Judith Collins in 2013.

The new application includes a report by forensic consultant Sean Doyle, which was commissioned by Brian McDonald, a Watson supporter.

Mr Krebs was one of the legal team representing Teina Pora, who spent more than 20 years in jail before his convictions for the 1992 rape and murder of Susan Burdett in Auckland were quashed by the Privy Council in 2015.

Mr Pora's compensation is to be increased to just over $3.5 million following a High Court challenge over the original amount. The outgoing National government was considering an appeal, but the new Labour-led administration supported the rise.

This article was originally published by RNZ.

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