Clayton Weatherston has been given a life sentence, with a non-parole period of 18 years. The Crown asked for 19 and the defence 12, so that seems reasonable, even though I would of course want even longer.
The comments from the sentencing were heart-breaking:
Sophie Elliott’s father told the court today his life stopped on the day his daughter was brutally stabbed to death.
Gil 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”.
He really is.
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. …
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.
I suspect they don’t ring at all for him. I hope that one day they do.
This will hopefully be the last post I will make on Weathertson and Elliott for sometime – maybe for 19 years! With the sentencing it is all over for those of us who just followed the news in the media, and we can move on. Sadly those who were close to Sophie will have to carry this with them for the rest of their lives, as the sentencing makes clear.
I’ve felt unusually captivated by this case, since it was first reported, for several reasons.
The first is that Sophie had what appeared to be have a wonderful life ahead of her. I don’t mean to at all suggest that any murder victims are more or less valuable, but on a human level you identify with someone who was academically brilliant, and was set to have an outstanding career. I read somewhere her ambition was to be the first female Reserve Bank Governor, and thought that was a superb ambition for a 22 year old to have. The remarks by her lecturers accompanying her paper for the Oxford Journal of Economics are a wonderful tribute to her ability.
The second reason was when it was revealed that her killer was Weatherston, an economic tutor. It is human nature that you are not very surprised when a gang member kills someone, or the killer is someone who has been in trouble all their life. An university staff member is not at all your typical killer, especially when they kill in such a way that they know they will be charged and punished for it. Weatherston also throw away what had been a pretty good life for him up until then.
Weatherston had also previously worked for Treasury, and so some of my friends knew him, and I heard about their reactions to the news (which included deleting him from their friends on Faacebook).
A third factor was the fact the killing happened in her home, with family members present. It was especially chilling that someone would be so pre-meditated as to sneak a knife in, to kill someone. Normally your home is your safest place.
The fourth aspect that made me feel unusually “close” to what happened, was the comments on the blog. A former girlfriend of Weatherston’s commented. A former boyfriend of Sophie’s also commented often, as did her brother once. Several others who knew either Sophie or Weatherson also commented, and you gained a much more complete picture of them, than what was in the media at the time.
The most shocking part for me, came when a new commenter tried to post some comments on the blog a few weeks after the murder. Luckily for everyone, a first time comment gets held in moderation, so only I saw it. And when I saw it, I was actually physiclly sick, as in threw up in the toilet.
For the first time, I’m going to blog what those comments were, as part of this final note. I want to stress that the person who made the comments has since apologised and I understand is incredibly remorseful for them. Don’t think you need to comment on how misguided or vile they were as that is obvious, and he is very repentent. I am only detailing them here as part of why this killing has affected me so much. The comments, (I have inserted appropriate ***s) were:
Sophie Elliot was a b***h and deserved to get murdered, she was a s**t and a w***e treated men like shit and this is what drove Clay to stab her.
Sophie Elliot was stabbed over 200 in her v****a, both her b******s were cut off and her ears, Dr. Clayton Weatherston has similarities to Dr. Hanibal Lecter. When the Police arrived he was still stabbing her lifeless corpse
Apart from vomiting up, as I read them, I was shaken to read the awful details of her stabbing (this was some months before that became public in the depositions hearing), and appalled by the blame the victim attitude. I actually wondered if Weatherston himself had somehow written them, and I passed them onto the Dunedin police.
I thought long and hard about whether to include these in my post, in case it upset friends or family of Sophie who might read this. But I concluded that it is all pretty much the same as what was said or implied in the trial by Weatherston’s defence. There is nothing new there – except in the timing of when they were made.
I actually found it quite hard, coping with having read the comments. That sounds silly, when you compare that to what people who actually knew Sophie, went through but I couldn’t get the brutal details of her death out of my mind. It isn’t quite so bad when it is public knowledge, as you can talk to people about it as a form of therapy, but I couldn’t subject any of my friends to what was in that comment. At worst I could say to them I had an unpleasant comment that was explicit about the death. I also struggled with how someone could hate someone so much, as to indicate she deserved what she got. Again I want to stress that the individual who did this is very remorseful for what he wrote.
So it was almost a relief for me, when the depositions hearing got some of this information out in the public domain.
After depositions we had the trial of course, and enough words have been written about that.I’ve never known a trial to not just grip the nation, but provoke such outrage. I suspect my sense of “closeness” to this case is one shared by many New Zealanders.
Incidentally in future, the family of similar victims, will be probably spared both a depositions hearing (which was so unnecessary in a case like this), and having to endure having the victim put on trial under the guise of provocation.
I don’t quite know why, but I still think about the killing several times a week. I just can’t quite get out of my sub-consciousness thoughts about what a terrible way to die, how awful it would have been for Lesley, and most of all how sad I am a wonderful life was cut short – even though it is of someone I never met. Thinking about it, if Sophie had lived to move to Wellington and work for Treasury, I guess I probably would have met her at some stage.
So hopefully with this sentencing, the publicity is all over, and it is time to move on. However my thoughts are with those who don’t have that luxury and will have to cope with what Weatherston did for the rest of their lives. They, like Weatherston, also have a life sentence – and one sadly with no parole.