Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Husband Charged with Honeymoon Scuba Diving Murder

By now, most (if not all) of us have at least heard about the October 22, 2003 scuba diving death of a woman on her honeymoon.

Eleven days after getting married, Christina Mae Watson donned her scuba diving gear and slipped into the water off Australia's coast for what was supposed to be a romantic exploration of a shipwreck with her new husband.

But the dive ended with her drowning.

Last Friday, her husband, David Gabriel Watson, was charged with her murder.

The Queensland state coroner found there was sufficient evidence to charge Watson in the death of his 26-year-old wife, although circumstances of the drowning remain unclear.

Christina Mae Watson, known as Tina, drowned Oct. 22, 2003, while diving at the wreck of the SS Yongala, a passenger and steam freighter that sank during a cyclone in 1911 on the Great Barrier Reef near the northeastern city of Townsville.

Coroner David Glasgow issued the indictment after a monthslong investigation. The move triggered extradition proceedings to return Watson to Australia.

Watson faces a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted of murder. His Australian lawyer did not immediately enter a plea, but he has argued the evidence does not support any criminal charge.

Watson was not present in court and his whereabouts were unclear. He did not testify at the coroner's inquest, claiming privilege against possible self-incrimination.

But in videotaped police interviews, Watson, who uses the first name Gabe, said his wife began having trouble a few minutes into the dive. He said she panicked and clutched at his mask, pulling it off his face. By the time he restored it, she was sinking away from him, her eyes wide and arms outstretched toward him, he said.

Watson, an experienced diver who had completed a dive rescue course, was acting as a so-called dive buddy for his less-experienced wife. He told police he decided to go for help rather than following her to the sea floor and attempting a rescue.

One of the dive leaders pulled Tina Watson to the surface. Efforts to resuscitate her failed.

During the coroner's inquest, police testified that they initially thought the death was an accident. However, they became suspicious when Watson changed details of his account.

An autopsy found no pre-existing medical condition that could have explained the young woman's death. Tests showed there was nothing wrong with her diving gear.

In his findings Friday, Glasgow said the exact circumstances of Tina Watson's fate may never be known.

"There are only two persons who know what in fact actually occurred," Glasgow said. "One is Tina, who cannot tell us, and the other is Gabe."

Watson's lawyer, Steve Zillman, argued during the inquest that his client had no motive to kill his wife and that the evidence did not support a criminal charge. He accused police of being intent on blaming Watson for the death, no matter what the evidence showed.

We here at the Neutral Dive Gear Scuba Diving Blog will be sure to follow the story as the case develops. But we would like to caution the dive community against forgetting that David Watson is - and should be - granted the presumption of innocence until a court finds otherwise.

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Anonymous said...

Davis Watson is guilty of being a dumb ass dive buddy to say the least.

Anonymous said...

I'm lucky - I divorced before this could happen to me!

Unknown said...

He took the rescue diver course by mail

Anonymous said...

Has anyone read "Erased" by Marilee Strong? Sounds familiar...

Honeymoon Vacation Resorts said...

Scuba diving is awesome wow i love it.It is the best place for honeymoon vacation resorts.

Anonymous said...

From my experience panic diver normally try to shoot for the surface. Sound real fishy to me.

Dorian Leslie,

Scuba Regulator Reviews