book about the events surrounding the 2008 murder of daughter
Sophie includes claims convicted murderer Clayton Weatherston
accessed pornography on University of Otago computers and
comments on perceived inadequacies in the justice system.
Published today, Sophie's Legacy: A mother's story of her
family's loss and their quest for change addresses
Weatherston's defence of provocation; Lesley and Gil
Elliott's determination to change a justice system they
believe does little to support victims and their families;
and Mrs Elliott's aspirations for the Sophie Elliott
Foundation, which aims to teach girls and women how to
recognise the signs of an abusive partner.
It also looks at the university's policy regarding
Co-written by Bill O'Brien, a former policeman whose book
Aramoana: 22 Hours of Terror was the basis for feature
film Out of the Blue, Sophie's Legacy is
harrowing in its forensic details of the brutal murder and
mutilation of Miss Elliott (22) on January 9, 2008.
It is also an attempt to set the record straight regarding
Miss Elliott's reputation, according to Mr O'Brien.
"In my time in the police, I'd seen a lot of things around
the justice system and how people who were dead had been
"They have no way of defending themselves. There was the
issue of resurrecting Sophie's image.
"We also talked about the justice system, the long delays in
awaiting trial and a lack of communication for the victim's
family," Mr O'Brien said.
Tomorrow would have been Miss Elliott's 26th birthday.
Instead of celebrating the occasion with their daughter and
sister, the Elliott family will mark both the official
Dunedin launch of the Sophie Elliott Foundation and the
release of Sophie's Legacy.
"We've got the launch of the foundation and the book, but it
is bittersweet," Mrs Elliott said earlier this week.
"I'm still not sure how I feel about the book.
"Somebody asked if the book has been cathartic. Maybe it has
been. I think for our family, extended family, Sophie's
friends and others, it puts the whole story together."
Among the book's
disclosures is a claim Weatherston, a university economics
lecturer, had been found to have accessed and downloaded
pornography "hours and hours on end" using the university's
"We found that out after Sophie died. It wasn't allowed to be
used at trial. We brought it up in the book. We thought it
was relevant to the sort of behaviour he exhibited,
particularly towards women. In most jobs, you'd probably get
fired for downloading porn," Mrs Elliott said.
The authors also lambast the University of Otago's
staff-student relationship policy, which was revised
following Miss Elliott's murder.
"Basically, they redrafted it and it came out as wishy-washy
as the first one, which was that the relationship between a
student and their supervisor had to be reported to the head
of department," Mrs Elliott said.
"They talk about 'managing' it. What does 'manage' mean?
According to policy, they did what they were supposed to do.
"In a lot of professions it isn't tolerated. Lawyers, doctors
what's different about the university?
"In our point of view the university had a duty of care to
Sophie - and all students for that matter."
• Sophie's Legacy: A mother's story of her family's loss
and their quest for change, by Lesley Elliott (co-written
with former policeman Bill O'Brien), is published today. The
book will be launched at a fundraising event at the Wall
Street Mall at 6pm tomorrow.
A feature interview with Lesley Elliott and Bill O'Brien will
appear in tomorrow's Weekend Magazine section.