Christchurch-based pathologist Dr Martin Sage gives
evidence yesterday in the High Court trial of Clayton
Weatherston. Photo by The Press.
Dunedin honours student Sophie Elliott died from blood
loss after she was attacked in her bedroom by her ex-boyfriend,
the High Court at Christchurch heard yesterday.
Mutilating injuries inflicted on 22-year-old Miss Elliott by
Clayton Weatherston, her former economics tutor, were
detailed by forensic pathologist Martin Sage on the ninth day
of Weatherston's murder trial.
Before Dr Sage gave his evidence, Justice Judith Potter
warned the 11 jurors the photographs they would see were
She asked them to approach the evidence in a dispassionate
and clinical way.
Weatherston (33) denies murdering Miss Elliott at her
Ravensbourne home on January 9 last year.
He admits her manslaughter.
Dr Sage said he arrived at the Elliott house, with Detective
Hamish Barrons and ESR scientist Michael Taylor, about eight
hours after the killing.
Miss Elliott's body was lying across a partly-packed open
suitcase on the floor of the room.
She had multiple stab wounds to the head, face, neck, arms
and lower body, and her white top and cardigan were heavily
When he carried out the postmortem the next morning, Dr Sage
found 216 separate injuries, mainly stab wounds caused by a
knife blade, with some inflicted with scissors.
There were also seven blunt force injuries where the skin was
bruised but not broken.
He found Miss Elliott died from blood loss, two of the wounds
to her chest having pierced her heart and one lung, while
other injuries to her neck and throat had severed the main
artery and the major vein.
Such wounds were "inevitably lethal", even with expert
treatment, Dr Sage said, as they would cause "torrential
Most of the wounds were in clusters, 11 in all, with an
additional 35 wounds, including the blunt force injuries.
There was a scattering of classic defence wounds to Miss
Elliott's hands and arms.
"Those indicate, unequivocally, the victim was alive and
capable of some activity at least for the initial part of the
attack," Dr Sage told the court.
The bulk of the injuries were intended to disfigure.
The number and pattern of the injuries indicated a
persistent, determined and focused attack on Miss Elliott, Dr
Sage told Crown counsel Robin Bates.
He said it was persistent because of the number of wounds and
because the assault must have taken some minutes, and
determined because, to inflict so many wounds, the attacker
would have to continue with "purposeful activity for some
It was focused because many of the wounds were directed at
disfiguring the young woman, Dr Sage said.
Defence counsel Judith Ablett-Kerr QC said she had no
questions for Dr Sage.