Weatherston jury home for night after four hours

The 11 jurors hearing the trial of former University of Otago academic Clayton Weatherston for murder were allowed to go home last night, four hours into their deliberations.

Justice Judith Potter told the seven men and four women they would not be sequestered but should treat themselves as if they were. And she warned them not to talk to anybody else about the case or read or access any media reports.

The jury retired at 1.03pm yesterday after the judge's two-and-a-half-hour summing up of the case. But they returned to the courtroom about half an hour later for further directions before going for lunch.

About 4.30pm, they had another short break outside. Then the judge had them brought back into the court to ask if they wanted to continue their deliberations after a meal or start afresh today.

They opted to go home for the night and start again today at 9.30am.

Earlier, during her summing up, the judge told the 11 jurors Weatherston's guilty plea to manslaughter was an admission he killed Sophie Elliott.

But he denied murdering her and the two questions for the jury were whether Weatherston killed Miss Elliott "with murderous intent" and, if so, had the Crown proved beyond reasonable doubt he was not acting under provocation.

In reaching their decision, they would have to put aside any prejudice or sympathy. Any concern about the consequences for Weatherston of a murder verdict, any feelings of horror or disgust at the injuries caused to Sophie Elliott, any sympathy for the deceased and her family as well as for the Weatherston family and any views about the lifestyle of the deceased or the accused all had to be ignored, the judge told the jurors.

They had to weigh the evidence clinically and dispassionately.

Weatherston (33) is charged with murdering his ex-girlfriend, honours student Sophie Elliott at her home on January 9 last year. He denies the allegation although he admits killing Miss Elliott. His trial before Justice Potter and the jury began in the High Court at Christchurch on June 24.

 

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