Clayton Robert Weatherston
Weatherston stabbed Sophie Elliott 216 times and grossly mutilated her body
NZ Herald story here with the sentencing here
Appealed the conviction but this has thankfully been dismissed, story here
However Weatherston still has the right to apply for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court, story here
NZ Herald story 15th September 2009
Sophie Elliott's father said the family would have liked a longer sentence, after former boyfriend Clayton Weatherston was sentenced for her murder today. Weatherston, 33 was handed 18 years without parole for the murder of Ms Elliott, 22. Weatherston was in July found guilty by a Christchurch jury of stabbing Miss Elliott 216 times in her Dunedin home on January 9, 2008. Outside court today Gil Elliott said Weatherston's show of remorse was "nonsense" and his sentence was too light. "Life ought to be life of course, like it is in America, but unfortunately it's not in New Zealand. "So I guess 18 years is probably reasonable under the circumstances," Mr Elliott said. "We would have liked more but at least it's not manifestly excessive and therefore probably won't be appealed."
Mr Elliott said he considered Weatherston's apparent show of remorse "nonsense". "That guy has never shown any remorse. He never pleaded guilty and he's never said sorry, so no, we don't believe that." He also rubbished Weatherston's continuing claim that his daughter provoked him by attacking him with a pair of scissors. "There is no way Sophie would have attacked him first with scissors. It wouldn't have been in her nature anyway. Why would she have jeopardised her job in Treasury doing that sort of thing." Prosecutors had sought a minimum non-parole period of 19 years for the murder, while the defence recommended 12 years. Sophie's mother Lesley Elliott said at the weekend she thought she would be lucky if Weatherston got a non-parole period of more than 20 years. "I want to see a life sentence mean the rest of a person's natural life - exactly what they took from someone else."
Weatherston admitted manslaughter at the start of the month-long trial in June but denied murder. In a move which caused controversy and national debate, the former economics lecturer claimed he was provoked into killing Miss Elliott. Justice Judith Potter today said that the killing was a pervasive and savage attack committed with a high degree of brutality and callousness and she considered it one of the worst cases of murder. Handing down the sentence in the High Court at Christchurch Justice Potter said: "Sophie Elliott's death was a tragedy in every sense of the word." Miss Elliott was vulnerable because of her size compared to Weatherston and Weatherston's claim he was carrying a knife with him at the time of the attack for protection was "fanciful". Justice Potter said she took in to account the continued attack and mutilation of Miss Elliott's body after her death.
A sentencing report from the probation service said it was difficult to assess if there was any long-term risk of Weatherston harming another person. The report said he had not shown any remorse and was unable to control his negative feelings towards Miss Elliott, but Weatherston blamed his violence on a unique set of circumstances in his relationship with Miss Elliott. Justice Potter said she also took into account his lack of previous convictions and that he was likely to respond well to therapy. Weatherston did not react as the sentence was announced before a subdued court. Weatherston earlier expressed remorse through his lawyer Judith Ablett-Kerr. Mrs Ablett-Kerr said Weatherston had told her he understood people did not see he was remorseful. He had heard much of what people had said about him.
"He said to me 'They don't see me at two in the morning when I think about the horrendous thing that occurred'. "He tells me he is sorry, that he saw no point in saying it himself because it would appear contrived," Mrs Ablett-Kerr said. "Now that's what he says. What it means, time will tell." Clayton Weatherston's father read a brief statement to the court on behalf of his son. Weatherston had grown up in an honest, law-abiding family and was a normal child and a high achiever, Roger Weatherston said. "I never thought for one minute he would be capable of such a travesty that unfolded on January 09, 2008." He said he had never seen any evidence of this behaviour before. "I hope Clayton can find it in himself to publicly show remorse." Gil Elliott told the court today his life stopped on the day his daughter was brutally stabbed to death.
Mr Elliott said he was still struggling to come to terms with her murder. "Everything I had existed for stopped that day," he said of the day of her murder. "Can you imagine what it feels like? She was so badly mutilated they were advising us not to see her," he said of organising his daughter's funeral. He spoke directly to Weatherston several times, closing his statement by looking at Weatherston and saying: "Clayton you are the epitome of evil". Mr Elliott also read out a statement from his son Nicholas, who said since his sister's death he had suffered deep depression and struggled with his physical and mental health each day. Nicholas Elliott said Weatherston could not rationally believe that his sister could have done anything that justified the incredibly excessive violence and savagery of his attack on her. Weatherston looked down, taking glances at Mr Elliott as the first statement was read.
Lesley Elliott said her family's life had fallen apart and would never be the same. She talked of the day of her daughter's death and seeing her daughter being stabbed even after she was dead. "My beautiful daughter had been butchered. I saw her bloodied body lying there that only minutes before had been warm and given me a hug." Mrs Elliott was then locked out by Weatherston, who continued stabbing her daughter's lifeless body. "I will never forget the terror. "Our house is quiet now." Mrs Elliott said her family was lucky to have so many photos of Sophie "all now stopped at the age of 22." Sophie's cat had died a month after her, too. Mrs Elliott said she had had many hours of counselling for flashbacks to her daughter's death and hoped in time she would be able to think of her as she was and not as she died.
"There are no answers. The bottom line is she is gone." Mrs Elliott said she cried herself to sleep every night, took medication to keep her functioning on a daily basis, had taken all her leave and reduced her hours of work. "Clayton Weatherston this is what you have done to us... I hope her screams of agony ring in your ears as they do in mine. "You took her life in a cowardly and despicable manner... women need to be protected from you." There were about 80 people in the public gallery, including the Elliott and Weatherston families, supporters and police. During his trial, the court heard Weatherston had arrived at Miss Elliott's home as she was packing to leave for a job in Wellington. The prosecution said he arrived at the house with a knife in his bag and the intention to kill and mutilate Miss Elliott. He locked her bedroom door to allow him to complete his task, they said. Weatherston blamed "the emotional pain" Miss Elliott had caused him for his frenzied attack, and said she had attacked him first with a pair of scissors.
Date of Birth
Born January 1976
Murder of 22 year old Sophie Elliott in her Ravensbourne, Dunedin home in January 2008
Sentenced to 18 years minimum in September 2009
Unsuccessfully appealed conviction on every one of its eight grounds in June 2011
Applied for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court without success in September 2011
Earliest parole date January 2026
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OFFENCES / CONVICTIONS
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