Weatherston admits manslaughter

An ODT file photo of Clayton Weatherston.
An ODT file photo of Clayton Weatherston.
Former University of Otago academic Clayton Robert Weatherston (33) today admitted the manslaughter of his ex-girlfriend, Sophie Elliott on January 9 last year but he denied murdering her.

Weatherston's trial on the charge of murder began today in the High Court at Christchurch.

A predominantly male jury - eight men and four women - has been selected for the hearing expected to take three weeks before Justice Judith Potter of Auckland.

Potential jurors were told to inform the court if they had contributed to any blog sites relating to the case. Jurors needed to bring ''an entirely independent mind'' to the task of being a juror, and if they had read or engaged in any such blog sites, they would not be able to have the necessary independence and objectivity, Justice Potter said.

Miss Elliott, then 22 years old, died as a result of being attacked in her bedroom at the family home in Ravensbourne. She had been in a relationship with Weatherston for several months during 2007 and had been about to leave for a Treasury job in Wellington when she was killed.
The nature of the injuries is suppressed, as are the names of several of the Crown witnesses. Also suppressed are the contents of the 111 call made by Miss Elliott's mother on the day of the killing and some other specific pieces of evidence.

In total, Justice Potter has made 12 separate suppression orders irelating to evidence and pre-trial decisions in the case.

Crown counsel Robin Bates and Marie Grills will call evidence from 31 witnesses in the hearing which is expected to take three weeks.

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