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Weatherston Was `Calm, Collected' Killer, Court Told

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Weatherston Was `Calm, Collected' Killer, Court Told

Christchurch, June 24 NZPA - Clayton Robert Weatherston set about killing and disfiguring Sophie Elliott "in a calm and collected manner", the Crown said as it opened the murder case against him in the High Court at Christchurch today.

Crown prosecutor Marie Grills said 33-year-old Weatherston took the knife with him when he visited 22-year-old Miss Elliott's Dunedin home on January 9, 2008.

The knife was found broken and covered in blood after the attack in which Miss Elliott was stabbed or cut 216 times. A pair of scissors was also found bent and bloodstained in the room.

Weatherston, Miss Elliott's former boyfriend and her lecturer at Otago University, today pleaded not guilty to her murder but said he was guilty of manslaughter when the charge was read to him on the first day of the three-week trial before Justice Judith Potter and a jury.

The defence had signalled that there would be "a partial defence of provocation", Justice Potter told the jury.

Mrs Grills said: "It is the crown case that the accused, for whatever reason, decided to kill and disfigure Sophie Elliott and he did so in a calm and collected manner, with a significant degree of premeditation."

The Crown said the clusters of wounds on her body related to areas of her attractiveness. "Many wounds were directed at disfiguring her body."

"It is the crown case that the accused not only intended to kill Sophie Elliott but mutilate features of her beauty and did so in a calm, collected, and focused way," said Mrs Grills.

She told of police arriving at the house seven minutes after the 111 call by Sophie Elliott's mother who had tried to force her way into the bedroom during the attack and saw Weatherston stabbing her daughter.

Weatherston was in the room and the first police officer to arrive asked him what he had done.

Weatherston replied in a calm, normal tone, "I killed her."

The officer formally warned him and then asked him why.

Weatherston replied: "The emotional pain that she has caused me over the past year."

Weatherston was found to have minor cuts on his neck and face.

Mrs Grills told the court that the pair had been in a relationship for about six months and she outlined an earlier violent incident. The relationship had ended by December, the month before the attack took place.

Weatherston had wished her dead because he believed she had ruined his chances of getting a permanent lecturer's position he had applied for at the university.

She rejected the defence's claim of provocation, which would require Weatherston to have been deprived of the power of self-control to commit the crime.

"The Crown says there were no words or acts that amounted to provocation. Nor was there any loss of self-control by the accused," she said.

Defence counsel Judith Ablett-Kerr QC said Weatherston was not a cold-blooded, premeditated killer as the Crown said.

"The defence case is that Dr Weatherston was provoked by the emotional pain of a torrid and tumultuous relationship that he had experienced with the accused.

"It was a relationship he was ill-equipped to deal with because of his unique personality make-up. It intruded not only on his personal life, but his professional life as well. It tragically culminated in the horrific events of January 9 last year."

The defence would say that Miss Elliott had attacked him with a pair of scissors and he had responded, losing the power of self-control, Mrs Ablett-Kerr said.

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