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Scott Watson's wife talks of her love

Published: 7:53PM Sunday June 27, 2004 Source: One News

A chance connection via New Zealand Post led to a happy mother of four in Rotorua making contact with one of New Zealand's most notorious criminals - convicted double murderer Scott Watson.

The relationship grew over a period of five years through letters, phone calls and visits, culminating in Coral Branch marrying Watson in jail earlier this month.

"He just sparked something inside and it was not that I couldn't live without him - I just wanted to be with him," Coral told TVNZ's Sunday programme.

Coral's children regularly went with her to jail, spending time with the man who would become their stepfather.

Coral told reporter Janet McIntyre she is proud to be Scott Watson's wife and that she can hold her head high.

The pair first made contact  as Watson was beginning a 17 year jail sentence in maximum security.

The convicted double murderer wrote to Branch in December 1999 after getting her name and details from a mutual contact.

Branch told Sunday that at first she did not know who Scott Watson was. She said friends eventually told her Watson is the guy who murdered two people but "that didn't matter".

She said she never thinks about what he's in jail for.

"He's a wonderful person, he's just so caring, he's kind."

Watson was jailed in September 1999 for the murders of Ben Smart, 21, and Olivia Hope, 17, who disappeared in the Marlborough Sounds on New Year's Eve in 1997.
The bodies of the pair have never been found, despite extensive police and Navy searches, as well as private searches by the families. They were last seen boarding a yacht,  which a high court jury believed was Watson's yacht, Blade. The jury was also told of some of Watson's sexually explicit comments on the night the pair went missing.
Branch told Sunday Watson has never spoken to her in such a way and that's "not the person she knows".

She said Watson tells her he loves her every day.

"He tells me that he misses me, tells me I'm a beautiful person - that I've changed him."

She said the change has come in the form of trust.

"He didn't trust before - I've opened his heart."

The case against Watson was largely circumstantial.  Evidence of murder on the Blade included two hairs said to be Hope's and scratch marks on the hatch. The yacht, repainted by Watson in the following days, had been scrubbed clean.

But the Crown's key witness Guy Wallace, the water taxi driver who took Smart and Hope to a yacht in the bay, still insists the boat the pair boarded was a ketch - a double masted yacht - not Watson's single masted Blade.

Wallace and other witnesses backed a petition to parliament this week for a commission of inquiry into the case which they claiming was full of holes.

"We're not looking for a ticket to get Scott Watson out of jail," Wallace said. "We just want this case investigated properly and to get the proper answers."

Branch told Sunday the couple never talk about the case or if Watson should be in jail. She said she has never asked him if he did the crime because she doesn't need to know and it doesn't matter.

"I fell in love with the man that I've gotten to know - not some monster."

However, Watson uses the nickname Monster in his correspondence with Coral.

"He once asked me to call him master as a joke and I said no - always monster," Coral said, adding that opposites attract and "I'm his angel and he's my monster."

Coral acknowledges that in many people's minds he is a monster.

From the maximum security wing of Paremoremo, Scott Watson last August proposed to Coral Branch over the phone. She said yes, but the prison said no - no wedding until Watson was eligible to move to the lower security west wing where he's entitled to more privileges.

That happened in April and in May - five years into a life sentence for murder - Watson married Branch in the prison chapel.

It was a low key discreet ceremony with just three guests - Coral's brother was the only family member invited.

Coral said that doesn't mean her family doesn't entirely approve of the wedding. She said she was only allowed 12 guests from both sides.

After a 15 minute ceremony in which they exchanged traditional vows the chaplain left the couple and their guests to enjoy a wedding breakfast  brought to the prison by Coral.

The celebration lasted almost five hours and Coral says the couple and guests were unsupervised for most of the time. However, she told Sunday the marriage has not been consummated then or since.

"It's not an important issue, it really isn't, when you love somebody and you want to spend your life with them it doesn't always have to be a big part of it."

Her four children are from four different relationships - but this is the first time Coral has married.

She said a lot of women write to Watson, wanting to be his girlfriend.

Scott's father Chris Watson now owns the notorious yacht Blade which he says he is keeping for his son.

His new daughter in law has been on the Blade. She was accompanied by two of her children, Scott, 11, and Odette, 9,  during filming for Sunday.

Scott said he liked being on the Blade "cause it's dad's boat and his bed's nice and comfortable".

The children have called Scott Watson dad for more than a year - a dad they've known only in jail for the past five years.

Odette said she loves him and wishes he could be out of prison.

While evidence at the trial suggested Watson could be violent, Coral said the person she visits is "not a violent person whatsoever".

Before the murders, Watson had been jailed for thefts and assaults. He had 48 previous convictions and while in prison in the late 1990s there were reports of him assaulting inmates.

Coral said the couple don't want children and Watson is "happy with the four we have".

She said she never thinks about the parents of Smart and Hope. She said while there is a certain amount of notoriety about being Mrs Watson it is her choice.

"I'm doing this because I love Scott. I married him because I love him."

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