Weatherston guilty of murder

Sophie's mum breaks down

JOHN HARTEVELT
Last updated 13:20 22/07/2009
DEAN KOZANIC/The Press
CLAYTON WEATHERSTON: Stabbed Sophie Elliott over 200 times.
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's grandmother
PETER MEECHAM/The Press Zoom
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.

Weatherston guilty of murder

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

The jury has just returned its verdict at the High Court in Christchurch.

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

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

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

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

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

Weatherston will be sentenced on September 15.

In comments to The Press before it was delivered the Elliotts  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.

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.

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"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.


 

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