The jury, thank God, has rejected Weatherston’s defence of provocation and found him guilty of murder.
This means he will be sentenced to life in prison. What is really important is what his non-parole period will be. It could be as small as ten years. I believe it must be much longer than that.
The actual murder by Weatherston is horrific enough. Rather than let Sophie go off to a new job and life in Wellington, he decided to firstly kill her, and then try to kill her reputation. He went around to her house with a knife, so he could murder her.
He did not just kill her but he slaughtered her. He did not strike her in anger. He slowly stabbed her to death torturing her. He cut off her nipples and nose and ears (and hair). He stabbed her in the genitals a massive amount of times. And he did it all while her mother was outside the door hearing her screams.
Then even worse he claimed she deserved it. He said he was “over it” – it being his killing of her. He got upset that people set up a trust for her. He got up in court and put her down at every occasion. He said he was not destroying her beauty because she wasn’t that attractive anyway. He joked that he was an arse man and her arse wasn’t that great.
I have never encountered such a wellspring of hatred towards one man. The e-mails, phone calls, conversations have been almost full of disbelief that such an evil unrepentant man could exist. His total lack of repentance was chilling.
And it is that total lack of repentance that means he must be locked away forever, if possible. No-one could have any confidence that this man would not kill again, after his justifications for why he killed Sophie.
Weatherston’s own testimony condemned him. I can only assume it was against his lawyer’s advice. Every day as he testified, more and more people were outraged by him.
Personally I was disgusted by the defence put up. It was cruel and vindictive towards the Elliott family. It also backfired. Rather than succeed in painting Sophie as some sort of monster, she just came across as a pretty typical 22 year old girl – albeit a very bright one. And Weatherston came across as pretty much a sociopath.
The Elliotts have been through so much, I hope they can be spared having to turn up to parole board meetings in 10 or even 15 years time and arguing for why Weatherston should stay in jail.
National campaigned on a new sentence of “life without parole” for the worst murderers. Weatherston is the poster child for who should get such a sentence. It is a great pity the law has not yet been changed to allow such a sentence. But I do hope under current law he gets at least 20 – 25 years non-parole. Hell I hope he gets 150 years like Bernie Madoff, but the court has sentencing guidelines.
And while we are at it, we should get rid of the defence of provocation, so no other family of a murder victim has to put up with what the Elliots have had to endure. The Law Commission recommended in 2007 it should go. The Government should act on this and introduce a bill, or support the one by Charles Chauvel. That way there may be some small good, come out of this very tragic case.