Clayton Weatherston guilty of Sophie Elliott's murder

21:45, Jul 25 2009
MURDER: Crown Prosecutor Robin Bates holds the knife, with which Elliott was stabbed, during the Crown's summing up in the Christchurch High Court.
MURDER: Crown Prosecutor Robin Bates holds the knife, with which Elliott was stabbed, during the Crown's summing up in the Christchurch High Court.
weatherston trial
Pyschiatrist Dr Philip Brinded, defence witness, giving evidence during the murder trial of Clayton Weatherston.
Dr David Chaplow
Pyschiatrist Dr David Chaplow, defence witness, giving evidence during the murder trial of Clayton Weatherston
Marie Grills
Crown counsel, Marie Grills, cross-examines psychiatrist Dr David Chaplow, a defence witness in Clayton Weatherston's murder trial.
Greg King
Defence counsel, Greg King, leads the evidence of psychiatrist Dr David Chaplow, defence witness in Clayton Weatherston's murder trial.
Clayton Weatherston
Clayton Weatherston gestures during his trial for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Sophie Elliott.
Justice Potter
Justice Potter during the murder trial of Clayton Weatherston.
Judith Albett Kerr
Defence counsel, Judith Ablett-Kerr, during the murder trial of Clayton Weatherston.
John Cunningham
Constable John Cunningham of Dunedin Police who was the arresting officer and first on the murder scene gives evidence in the murder trial at the High Court in Christchurch.
martin sage
Christchurch based Pathologist Martin Sage gives evidence about stab wounds on the body of Sophie Elliott which he believes could have been caused by a pair of scissors similar to the ones he is holding in the High Court trial of Clayton Weatherston.
Joanne McLaughlan
Constable Joanne McLaughlan holds a floor plan of the home of murdered woman Sophie Elliott as she gives evidence in the murder trial at the High Court in Christchurch.
Sarah Fobes
Sarah Forbes demonstrates how Weatherston said Sophie Elliott had hit him, while giving evidence during the murder trial of Clayton Weatherston.
Jessica Smith
Jessica Smith, friend of Sophie Elliott, giving evidence at the trial of Clayton Weatherston at the High Court in Christchurch.
Erin Lee van de Water
Erin Lee van de Water, a friend of victim Sophie Elliott, with a photo book given to Weatherston by Sophie, while giving evidence during the murder trial of Clayton Weatherston.
scissors
EVIDENCE: The scissors used in the killing of Sophie Elliott.
Sophie Elliott
HAPPIER TIMES: Sophie Elliott and Clayton Weatherston in a picture posted on her Facebook page.
Sophie Elliott
LIFE CUT SHORT: Sophie Elliott had planned to move to Wellington to start a new job before she was stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend Clayton Weatherston.
Sophie Elliott
Sophie Elliott and Clayton Weatherston in a picture posted on her Facebook page. Sophie was found stabbed to death in her bedroom at her parents' home in Dunedin. Clayton admitted her manslaughter but denied he murdered her, saying he was provoked.
Lesley Elliott
Lesley Elliott, who was in the house when her daughter Sophie was stabbed 216 times to death, giving evidence in the murder trial of Clayton Weatherston.
Lesley and Gil Elliott
ORDEAL: Lesley Elliott said: 'The public face is different to the private face. It's been tough.'
Sophie Elliot's family
The Elliott family leave court after Clayton Weatherston was found guilty by the jury of murdering Sophie Elliott. They are, from left: Chris, Lesley, Nic and Gil Elliott.
Sophie Elliott's grandmother
The grandmother of Sophie Elliott is comforted by Garth McVicar from the Sensible Sentencing Trust outside the Christchurch High Court after Clayton Weatherston was found guilty by the jury of murdering Sophie Elliott.

Clayton Weatherston has been found guilty of the murder of Sophie Elliott.

The jury returned its verdict about 11.20am at the High Court in Christchurch.

The verdict was greeted with sighs of relief and joy from the public gallery.

RELIEVED: Gil and Lesley Elliott outside the High Court in Christchurch this morning after Clayton Weatherston was found guilty of the murder of their daughter.

"You're guilty," an Elliott supporter said from the public gallery.

Lesley Elliott, Sophie's mother, broke down immediately when the verdict was delivered.

She embraced with her husband Gil Elliott and then, surprisingly, with defence counsel Judith Ablett-Kerr QC.

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CLAYTON WEATHERSTON: Stabbed Sophie Elliott over 200 times.

Weatherston betrayed little emotion in the dock, twitching his face somewhat when the verdict came down.

Weatherston will be sentenced on September 15.

 Outside the Christchurch courthouse today Gil Elliott said the provocation defence should no longer be an option.

Sophie Elliott
LIFE CUT SHORT: Sophie Elliott had planned to move to Wellington to start a new job before she was stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend Clayton Weatherston.

"I think there are people who will back us on that," he said.

In comments to The Press before the verdict was delivered the family said the five week trial had been "painful".

"It has not been easy to sit daily in court and listen, not only to graphic forensic evidence, but also to distortions and embellishments of the truth about Sophie and her life," the family said in a statement.

Elliott's brother Chris said there was "nothing about the legal process designed to make it any easier on victims."

"We have had no choice but to sit and watch it unfold and hope for the best, whilst he is allowed to talk and pass notes to his legal team any time he wants," Elliott said.

"Our lives will never be the same, but we are fortunate to have the unwavering support of family and friends. They have been our strength."

Weatherston had pleaded guilty to Elliott's manslaughter but not guilty of murder.

He admitted stabbing her 216 times in an attack in the bedroom of her Dunedin home on January 9 last year.

Weatherston said he was provoked by the emotional pain of a tumultuous six month relationship with Elliott and because she had attacked him with a pair of scissors.

Weatherston, 33, was a research fellow at Otago University. He lectured a paper that Elliott, 22, took in 2007.

TRAUMATIC FOR ALL

A source said the trial had been"very traumatic for a lot of people" at the university's economics department.

"Most people knew both the victim and Clayton," the source said.

"It hasn't been pleasant. You can notice the change in people that haven't been the same since.

"There has been a lot of people in shock."

Old school mates of Weatherston said he had to"serve his time."

Dean Moeahu, who went to Dunedin's Green Island School and Kaikorai Valley High School with Weatherston, told The Press there was no support for him.

"He definitely has to serve his time," Moeahu said.

"From my point of view, I think it was sad for the fact of the parents having to go through the whole trial when it's pretty clear cut."

Another former school mate, who did not want to be named, said there was a lot of sympathy for Weatherston's family.

"You speak to anyone in Green Island, everyone feels very sorry for the whole family, they're devastated and I don't blame them," the man said.

'PERVERSE OPPORTUNITY'

Women's Refuge chief executive Heather Henare joined Mr Elliott in calling for the provocation defence to be reviewed.

"Because of the way the defence was run, this trial became a perverse opportunity for a killer to continue to persecute his victim and her family after her death.

"The provocation defence is based on absolutely archaic notions about violence. Once upon a time, society accepted that an affront to male privilege or dignity was a reasonable excuse to fly into a homicidal rage.

"This trial turned justice inside out. The killer became the victim and Sophie Elliott was portrayed to us all as he chose to describe her. Unfortunately for Clayton Weatherston the jury didn't buy it and nor did the hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders who watched him giggling on their televisions."

Ms Henare said she had been "horrified to hear" Miss Elliott's mother described as an unreliable witness and expressed sympathy for what her family had endured.

"I believe there will be a strong and justifiably angry reaction to the way this trial proceeded. New Zealanders hearing so many of the details and seeing Weatherston taking the stand will have been absolutely dumbfounded that this remorseless killer has had a platform for his justifications and excuses - televised and thoroughly reported by the media."

Counselling agency Relationship Services said the case was a reminder that extreme partner violence could occur in all sectors of society and was not restricted to couples who lived together.

"This is a well educated, articulate man who has resorted to violence on a number of occasions in response to relationship pressures," national practice manager Cary Hayward said.

The agency said people who knew someone at risk from a partner should encourage that person to seek help.

Warning signs in a relationship include possessiveness, jealousy, stalking and controlling behaviour.

"People need to be aware these are not part of a normal, healthy relationship and should take action."

- with NZPA

The Press