Saturday, June 6, 2009

Divorce? No, Watson had a different idea.

How is it that a man who married his wife just 11 days earlier can leave her to die on their honeymoon? US citizen David Gabriel "Gabe" Watson pleaded guilty this week of the manslaughter of his wife while they were scuba diving on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The underwater picture shows Watson in the foreground, his wife on the right of the picture, lying face up, probably already dead, while another diver swims to her rescue.
AND he was a qualified rescue diver! Apparently he testified that the newlyweds entered the water at 10.30am on that day in October 2003. Six minutes later, Watson surfaced alone, distressed and signalling for help. But, being her dive buddy, he did not check that she had oxygen. He did not offer to share his own oxygen. He did not inflate her buoyancy vest or remove weights from her belt. He did not try to help her to the surface. He just let go of his bride, leaving her to sink to her death on the ocean floor as he resurfaced. The other diver found her eyes open, her mask still on, her regulator still in her mouth, oxygen in her tank. But she was not breathing.
We have to accept the finding of the court, but we’ll probably never really know what happened. Is this a case of a new husband getting cold feet? Was it an opportunity good too miss for man who made a mistake?
What’s wrong with divorce? Better than killing someone, don’t you think? Better than a jail sentence, better than distressed relatives filled with hate, better than having to face the ultimate judgement irrespective of your beliefs.
This couple had no kids, newly married so there was probably little or no property between them. A divorce or separation would have been disappointing yes, but at least no one would be dead; no one would be convicted of a heinous crime.
Justice Peter Lyons sentenced the US citizen to 4½ years jail, suspended after 12 months. Watson will be deported back to the US once he has served his term. Good riddance!
The victim's father, sister and best friend flew to Australia to be present at the sentencing. Watson's new wife, whom he wed last August, was also in the courtroom. I can’t wait for the tabloid magazines to print ‘her story’.
Outside the court the victim's father said the sentence was "a total injustice". "Today he [Watson] was allowed to take the easy way out. This is in no way, shape or form a beginning to get justice for our daughter … we believe that Gabe Watson murdered our daughter."
The family is considering seeking an appeal.
No wonder.
Photo: Queensland Police and Channel Ten