11 Jun 2011

Sophie's mother wants changes to legal processes

2:00 pm on 11 June 2011

The mother of murdered Dunedin woman, Sophie Elliott, says she has observed a slight softening of legal processes in victims' favour since the trial of her daughter's killer, Clayton Weatherston, in 2009.

However, Lesley Elliott says many changes still need to be made.

Mrs Elliott has published a book, Sophie's Legacy, in her daughter's memory, to get across her experiences of the shortcomings of the legal system.

She is critical of mistakes, such as having been put in accommodation opposite the cells where Weatherston was held, while her home was a crime scene.

Mrs Elliott says a emergency 111 call she made while trying to get into Sophie's room while Weatherston was stabbing her, should have been heard as evidence at the trial.

"It was played at depositions and it was certainly pretty powerful. We felt strongly about it because it was evidence as far as we were concerned but it was claimed to be too prejudicial. Well, I'm sorry but it was actually what happened."

Mrs Elliott says she has watched other cases since Weatherston's and has noticed a distinct softening in attitudes towards victims and their families but more changes are needed.

She says giving evidence was frustrating for her.

"In that situation you only have the opportunity to actually answer the questions, so a lot of the time it was quite frustrating sitting there listening to things that were being said that I knew that I could answer on Sophie's behalf, and certainly there were times when I felt like screaming."

Mrs Elliott says she is now putting her energy into the Sophie Elliott Foundation which she started to help young women recognise the signs of abuse.

She says she wants 16 and 17 year olds to be taught how to recognise the signs of abusive relationships, with the realities of dating relationships specifically addressed in the school system.

Mrs Elliott says Weatherston was diagnosed as a narcissist, but that cannot be considered an excuse for his behaviour.