The mother of Sophie Elliott, who was brutally murdered
by her boyfriend, is backing a Northland family's stance
against domestic violence following their tragic loss.
As the Elliott family of Dunedin commemorated the death of
Sophie five years ago last Wednesday, the McGrath family of
Whangarei were dealing with the devastating loss of
34-year-old Patricia Ann McGrath, nicknamed Wowo.
The mother of two died in Whangarei Hospital on January 8,
four days after she was allegedly assaulted in her Kamo home.
The Whangarei case prompted Lesley Elliott to contact the
Northern Advocate, expressing her support for the McGrath
"My deepest sympathy on the loss of your loved one ... We are
five years down the track and the grief is as strong now as
it was then. We lost a beautiful person, as you have," Mrs
"I am deeply saddened by these events. I know exactly how
they will be feeling ... it won't be easy."
In 2008, Sophie Elliott, 22, was stabbed to death by her
boyfriend Clayton Weatherston at her mother's house. The
former Otago University tutor admitted stabbing Ms Elliott
216 times but argued he had been provoked. Weatherston is
serving at least 18 years in jail, after he was found guilty
Mrs Elliott said that, since the death of her daughter, her
mission had been to spread the word that domestic abuse was
not okay, through the education of young people about safe
and unsafe relationships.
"I totally support the 'It's okay to ask for help' White
Ribbon campaign and ask others to do the same," Mrs Elliott
"White Ribbon is about men supporting men to be against abuse
"Being good role models and supporting men who want to change
their behaviour. I truly believe it is men who hold the
answer, good role models can support other men to change
Mrs Elliott was impressed that the McGrath family had spoken
out and had distributed about 400 white ribbons at Saturday's
tangi for the 34-year-old.
"The more people who are speaking out, the better. It's
frustrating that we have already been working on getting the
message out about domestic violence and there is another
"It's not an easy job and it's a long road. But if people
like the McGraths have the strength to stand up and talk,
there will be long-term benefits for everyone," she said.
The McGrath family were still at Korokota Marae at Titoki,
where they buried Patricia McGrath, and were touched Mrs
Elliott was backing them in their anti-violence campaign.
John McGrath said he would be contacting Mrs Elliott.
"One thing I feel is we can't put our loved ones in a hole
and walk away. We are the ones who have been cheated," he
Phillip Andre Mahanga, 32, has been charged with assaulting
Ms McGrath and been remanded in custody until January 21,
when more serious charges are likely to be laid by police.
The family said Ms McGrath and Mahanga had been in an on
again, off again relationship for 14 months.
- Kristin Edge of The Northern Advocate