Weatherston gets life

Clayton Weatherston has been sentenced to life imprisonment with 18 year minimum period of imprisonment for the brutal murder of Otago University student Sophie Elliot.

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Judge Judith Potter said Sophie Elliott's death was a tragedy in every sense of the word. It was undoubtedly a highly brutal and callous murder, among the worst, she said, as she handed down the sentence to Weatherston in the High Court at Christchurch at 12.17pm today.

The courtroom was very subdued and Weatherston had no reaction as he was sentenced. No-one cried.

Judge Potter said she believed the killing was deliberate and controlled and rejected the defence that Weatherston was provoked.

A sentencing report from the probation service said it was difficult to assess if there was any long-term risk of Weatherston harming another person because he had not shown any remorse and was unable to control his negative feelings towards Miss Elliott, but Weatherston had said his violence was the result of a unique set of circumstances in his relationship with Miss Elliott.

She took in to account the continued attack and mutilation of Miss Elliott's body after her death, Justice Potter said.

"I am in no doubt this murder was committed with a high level of brutality and callousness."

There was some planning, but it was not over careful and orchestrated, but she rejected Weatherston's evidence that he usually carried the knife with him for his own protection.

She took into account his lack of previous convictions and that he was likely to respond well to therapy.

Miss Elliott, who had been Weatherston's girlfriend, was stabbed in her Dunedin home 216 times on January 9 last year.

Weatherston, 33, an economics tutor at the university, admitted manslaughter at the start of the month-long trial in June but denied murder.

In a move which caused controversy and national debate, he claimed he was provoked into killing Miss Elliott.

Read the Judge's full address to the court in tomorrow's Otago Daily Times newspaper.

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