Scuba man jailed for wife’s death
myscubastory - 2/18/2011 3:12 PM
Category: Health & Safety
Replies: 17

Gabe and Tina Watson Gabe Watson was an experienced diver

An Australian court has sentenced a man to four-and-a-half years in prison over the death of his bride on their scuba-diving honeymoon on Great Barrier Reef.Christina Watson, 26, drowned while diving with her husband, David Gabriel Watson, an experienced diver, 11 days after their wedding in 2003.

The sentence came after Watson pleaded guilty to manslaughter having previously denied murder charges.Prosecutors said he had failed in his duty as his wife’s dive buddy.

Prosecutor Brendan Campbell said Watson had failed to give her emergency oxygen when she needed it.Watson allowed Christina to sink to the ocean floor without making any serious attempt to rescue her and also failed to inflate her buoyancy vest or remove weights from her belt to allow her to surface, Mr Campbell said."He virtually extinguished any chance of her survival," he told the court hearing, in Brisbane.

A dive instructor found novice scuba diver Christina Watson lying on the bottom of the ocean after her husband, known as Gabe, had surfaced.
In mid-2008 a coroner found it was likely Watson killed his wife by holding her underwater and turning off her air supply.

The American couple were on their honeymoon in Australia.
Watson, who has since remarried, voluntarily returned to Australia last month to face his murder charge.

Christina’s father Tommy Thomas, her sister Alanda and friend Amanda Phillips travelled from their native Alabama to attend the court hearing.
Prosecutors had sought a five-year jail term for Mr Watson, with the possibility of parole after 18 months.

Original article can be found on http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8084405.stm

I just found this horrible article. What a sad story. People are so vulnerable underwater especially when their dive buddies are the ones in who they place a lot of trust.
diverray - 2/18/2011 10:42 PM
I remember this story. I think it is somewhat misleading. There is all the talk about him not doing his duty as a dive buddy, but the real charges and prosecution is that they thought he murdered his wife.
Greg - 2/19/2011 9:48 AM
Stories like this do not help with my struggle to get my wife certified to dive with me. She was just starting to warm up to the idea...now she has to worry about me turning off her air. That’s gonna set me back a few years, thanks Gabe!
slippin2darknezz - 2/19/2011 9:53 AM
If my memory serves me correctly wasnt this the case that involved him being seen in the background of someones video doing what they initally though was him shutting off her air...
LatitudeAdjustment - 2/19/2011 10:30 AM
There was another one years ago where a guy over weighted his wife so she sank like a rock no matter how much air she added to the BC. How come they always keep the weights on?!
myscubastory - 2/19/2011 11:49 AM
The latest i have heard from dive collegues at work is that he is being deported by australian authorites back to america to stand trail -
Indiana - 2/19/2011 2:03 PM
I dont think they can do that .No crime was commited in the US.
diverray - 2/19/2011 4:23 PM
The Alabama authorities are arguing that he planned the crime in Alabama, so they have jurisdiction. I don’t know the law, but this sounds worrisome, in a general sense. All very circumstantial. Any state could claim this for any crime committed by anyone who was in or passing through that state at some point prior to the crime.
AOW_dude - 2/19/2011 4:47 PM
That’s an old article (6/5/09). The guy did 18 months in Aussie jail and went home to Alabama, here’s a recent update (1/31/11)

Now here’s a good one, the dude had a Rescue Diver cert.

It’s one sick story. I bet they’re gonna make a movie out of it sooner or later, like they did with ‘Open Water’.

Greg - 2/19/2011 7:34 PM
This is why it’s always important to be a good dive buddy and provide help equal to your level of training: "The prosecutor said Watson unlawfully killed Tina by failing in duty of care to fulfill his obligations as her "dive buddy" during the scuba dive."
OLDFART - 2/20/2011 12:54 PM
I have no idea about this case. Maybe he wanted to off his wife and maybe he didn’t not the point. the point is being a dive buddy means you stay in arms length of your dive partner, not off doing what you think is cool at the time.

If you are going to dive with someone like that you might as well dive alone..
King - 2/23/2011 3:01 AM

 I realize you should help your dive buddy. But exactly what are your legal obligations?
steelheadfish - 2/23/2011 4:11 PM
Wow I feel sorry for the guy, all the more reason to dive solo. Wonder if he died and she was the exp. diver if they would of found her guilty to..... probally not....just sayin
slippin2darknezz - 2/23/2011 6:12 PM


I was able to find another of the first articles on this, he was/will charged with murdering his wife for shutting off her air and holding her undewater till she drowned, not neglecting to render aid to her in an emergency. Thus the reason America wants to put him on trial when he returns to the states.
JoSeewhales - 2/25/2011 12:52 PM

There was a program on this last year or so and from what I saw I have a few doubts about the guy’s guilt. If this is the same incident I saw the fatality happened on the wreck of the Yongala, not the Great Barrier Reef. In my opinion the Yongala is an advanced dive - When I dove it there was a current running, good swells, > 100 fsw to the floor. Of course it would be a simple/ safe dive for a NC wreck diver but it is my understanding this was their first ocean dive?? Also, it’s not uncommon for someone to open the tank valve partially allowing a constriction as the tank pressure dropsbailed someone out (no pun intended) for that once.
ehaleng - 2/26/2011 5:02 AM

Ive been trying to get mine to dive for years now but my wife’s sister tryied to drown her when they were little and hasnt worn off yet. I got her down to the bahamas and took her snokeling and she warmed up to that. But its getting her across that last barrier of putting her head under water. When she reads a story about any death in diving she pulls back. the strugle continues

divershades - 2/27/2011 2:53 AM
Gerg hey i understand your propblem i’ve been trying to get my wife to join in the fun but she also hears these stories and step back away from join the dive fun. I myself have read many stories and many have good learning of things that could happen and just makes me that much more aware of what i need to do or look at more closely. Hope your wife joins you it is a total blast to dive
Joe65 - 7/19/2012 7:11 AM
I think this story was on American greed, this dude was a sicko. He want as far as to steal flowers from the grave site. Her father was placing them, this guy was taking them, and they caught him on video doing it. Insurance money was the motive.