Court hears of murder accused Weatherston's 'arrogant' attitude

An Otago University administrator said that in 2007 she became uncomfortable with the attitude and behaviour of Clayton Weatherston, the man accused of murdering Sophie Elliott in Dunedin in January 2008.

Christine Haig told the High Court at Christchurch today Weatherston became arrogant, with a bad attitude, the Christchurch Court News website reported.

He accused a member of the staff of plagiarism, and was overly persistent that his level of input deserved dual authorship, but his collegue disagreed.

Ms Haig said she knew that his relationships with other members of staff were deteriorating.

She said his relationship with Sophie Elliott caused professional difficulties and problems for the department.

There was protocol to deal with the situation, including someone else marking Miss Elliott's work, so that she had no advantage or disadvantage, she said.

Her birthday was a week before Weatherston's and she said that on the day she joked with him that as he was turning 32 in a week he should start to grow up and act like an adult.

He told her he had had a hard year, he had completed his PhD, and moved on from a bad relationship with Miss Elliott.

He was her academic superior but he felt the balance of power was the other way round with her.

He said he wanted to try new things, like speaking French, taking salsa lessons, and focusing on publishing his work.

He said he was glad the relationship was over, and he was not going to have any more to do with her.

His birthday was January 9, the day of Miss Elliott's death.

The head of the Economics Department, Professor David Fielding, said that Weatherston was not a frontrunner to get a position at the university that he applied for, but he didn't know if the best candidates would accept the offer, so he was still in with a chance.

Professor Fielding said he had to offer criticism sometimes to Weatherston about his work, that it was an important part of the learning process. He found Weatherston very confident in his own ability.

Prof Fielding said Weatherston was not quite so quick to change things as other students, but he would take the advice in the end. He said Weatherston was very ambitious and wanted to succeed as an academic.

The doctor who examined Weatherston at the police station on the night of Miss Elliott's death said he only found superficial abrasions on him, and no injuries that required medical attention.

Sophie Elliott's best friend, Jessica Smith, told the court she didn't think her friend's relationship with Weatherston was a good idea.

She said Miss Elliott said Weatherston belittled her, and didn't know how intelligent she was. She thought he was being quite distant, and with teaching and studying, their meetings were infrequent.

She said she saw Miss Elliott on January 6, and made her promise not to go to his house to give him a cheque for a window she had broken.

Miss Smith said she was worried about her because she had told her what had happened last time Miss Elliott had met up with Weatherston, when he had straddled her and put an arm across her throat.

Miss Elliott told her she wanted to get things between them resolved before she left for her new job in Wellington.

Miss Smith cried in court as she read through the transcript of the last text messages she had exchanged with Miss Elliott in the few days before her death.

- NZPA

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n3 at 29 Jul 2014 16:38:21 Processing Time: 677ms