A former journalist who covered the murders of Ben Smart and Olivia Hope in the Marlborough Sounds has officiated at the funeral of their killer's mother.
The funeral for Beverly Watson, 64, was held at the Westpark Chapel in Christchurch yesterday.
Scott Watson, convicted of the 1998 murders of Ben and Olivia, attended under Department of Corrections guard.
Officiating at the service was former TV3 journalist Jayson Rhodes, who co-authored a book on Watson's trial, published in 1999. Rhodes, now an Anglican vicar, said he got to know the Watson family while covering Watson's case and had stayed in touch.
Watson's attendance at the funeral was "the way it needed to be", he said.
"I think it was the only thing that could happen for a son to be at his mum's funeral. All the children, her three children, spoke and shared their memories and absolute love for her."
Watson appeared to have been taken into the chapel through a side entrance before the service started at 10am.
He was not a pallbearer and did not join mourners on the front steps of the chapel after the service. Instead, he was whisked back to Rolleston Prison, where he is serving a life sentence, about 11.20am.
Beverly Watson died in Christchurch on Friday after a two-month battle with leukaemia. Watson spoke in tribute to his mother, along with brother Tom and sister Sandy. They also read a poem.
Beverly Watson's former boss, Jules Terry, told The Marlborough Express that Watson had visited his mother in hospital while she was dying, and that she had never given up trying to prove his innocence.
Rhodes' co-authored book, Ben and Olivia: What Really Happened?, offered a detailed critique of the trial and concluded that "it would be a brave person who believes guilt has been proven beyond all reasonable doubt".
He is now vicar at St Peter's Anglican Church in Takapuna, Auckland and returned to Auckland yesterday afternoon.
Justice Fogarty granted Watson compassionate leave from custody to attend his mother's funeral under strict conditions.
Watson was to remain under the direct supervision of the two escorting officers at all times.
Strict security to be maintained.
The prison van was to travel directly to and from the Westpark Chapel in Wairakei Rd, Christchurch.
No unauthorised stops, visits or phone calls during the escort.
Watson was not to converse with the public, other than family members, when viewing his mother's body in the private/quiet room.
This would not stop Watson speaking formally with his brother and sister, and reading a poem, to the congregation at the funeral.
Watson to leave the Westpark Chapel after the funeral service, being removed in similar fashion to the way in which he was brought in.
Watson will meet the expenses arising from the compassionate leave.
- The Marlborough Express
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