Dominion Post 10 June 2011
Sophie Elliott’s mother is calling for better support for murder victims’ families, revealing in her new book how she discovered her daughter was stabbed 216 times only after the evidence was presented in court. Lesley Elliott had to take long-service leave to attend the trial of Clayton Weatherston for Sophie’s murder, after having to rearrange travel and accommodation plans twice, including flights from Australia for her two sons, when the trial was delayed. The mother’s experience of how the justice system treats victims’ families is outlined in Elliott’s book, Sophie’s Legacy, which contains the plea “Make it easier – please”. More than three years after Sophie’s brutal death in January 2008, the book details the family’s anguish at their treatment by the justice system. Lesley Elliott has finally come off the antidepressants and given away the outfit her daughter bought for her first day at her new job at the Treasury in Wellington. But the family’s experience of the justice system still rankles. “If I hope for anything to come out of this, it is that those who have the power to make things happen for the better accept my challenge and improve the system,” she writes. The book, released today, recounts insult heaped on insult: being put up in a hotel that overlooked police cells housing the man who butchered her daughter; waiting 18 cruel months for the trial; learning for the first time during the trial how many times Weatherston stabbed her daughter.