To mark the Herald on Sunday's 15th anniversary, we have gone back to some of our biggest newsmakers to find out where they are now.

The brutal murder of young Dunedin woman Sophie Elliott by her enraged ex-boyfriend broke New Zealand's heart.

On January 9, 2008, the 22-year-old was in her bedroom at her family home packing for a move to Wellington to start a new job.

As she packed Clayton Weatherston - whom she had broken up with about a month earlier after a rocky six-month relationship - arrived at the Elliott home.

Advertisement

Sophie's mother, Lesley, let him into the house, never imagining he had a knife in his computer bag and that within minutes her only daughter would be dead.

In a ferocious and brutal attack, Weatherston stabbed Sophie 216 times.

Lesley heard a commotion and went upstairs to see what was going on.

At first she could not get into Sophie's bedroom but when she managed to force the door open she saw her daughter lying dead on the floor and covered in blood.

Weatherston was straddling Sophie's body, still stabbing her.

When the first policeman on the scene asked Weatherston what had occurred, he said: "I killed her".

Asked why, Weatherston stated: "The emotional pain that she has caused me over the past year".

He was later jailed for life for murder, described in court as a "persistent, focused and determined attack".

Sophie Elliott. Photo / Supplied
Sophie Elliott. Photo / Supplied

In the years after Sophie's death her parents spoke regularly and passionately about domestic violence.

They wanted her death to effect change - they didn't want their loss to be completely in vain.

Advertisement

Lesley eventually founded the Sophie Elliott Foundation in a bid to teach young people
about abusive relationships.

READ MORE:
A decade on: Sophie Elliott's family remember her
Gruesome details of Sophie Elliott killing revealed in court

She travelled around the country for years pushing the Loves-Me-Not programme - which aims to equip young people with the skills to identify early warning signs so they can avoid becoming involved in abusive relationships.

However a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease and declining health saw Lesley shut down the foundation last month and pass the programme on to police to continue running.

She was not well enough to speak to the Herald on Sunday but her spokesman and foundation trustee Bill O'Brien said her life had been deeply impacted by the death of Sophie.

"What she witnessed back then, it's catching up now," he said.

"If it wasn't brought on by what she witnessed [with Sophie] it's certainly been exacerbated by it.

"A lot of people in her position could not have even contemplated what Lesley has done - let alone carry on for 10 years.

"But what she has achieved has been tempered by the fact that she can't change anything, she can't bring Sophie back.

Lesley Elliott and Bill O'Brien. Photo / NZME
Lesley Elliott and Bill O'Brien. Photo / NZME

O'Brien said Lesley had done "extraordinary" work in over the past decade.

"This was such an important thing to do - all the accolades Lesley has received, it wasn't about that," he said.

"The pride she has is more a reflection that she managed to do something meaningful - it took a hell of a lot of effort.

"That's why it's especially hard now for her to be struggling with health issues."

Despite her illness, Lesley still spoke of Sophie every day.

"She talks about Sophie every day, and that will never change," said O'Brien.

It was hard for Lesley whenever her daughter was mentioned - which was often in the media when domestic violence issues were reported on.

"Lesley takes it in her stride, but deep down, she feels it keenly," O'Brien said.

"The reality is, with Parkinson's, her life becomes harder and harder, it's degenerative and we don't know what's going to happen in her future. We just know it won't get better, it will only get worse."

Despite her failing health, Lesley was buoyed by the knowledge her daughter was remembered and her work had helped others.

"We get heaps of emails and letters from people who have said they did the Loves-Me-Not programme at school or heard Lesley speak and say she influenced them and their thinking.

"We've had people say, 'you actually saved my life'.

"Lesley looks at that and thinks that's great - this is Sophie's legacy, what we did in Sophie's name has made a real difference.

"It's incredible really, all that effort was worthwhile.

"But now it's time for Lesley to rest - she achieved what she wanted to achieve and it's time for her to sit back and rest up a bit and let others carry on."

Sophie Elliott was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in January 2009. Photo / Supplied
Sophie Elliott was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in January 2009. Photo / Supplied

DO YOU NEED HELP?

If you're in danger now:

• Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours of friends to ring for you.
• Run outside and head for where there are other people.
• Scream for help so that your neighbours can hear you.
• Take the children with you.
• Don't stop to get anything else.
• If you are being abused, remember it's not your fault. Violence is never okay.

Where to go for help or more information:

• Shine, free national helpline 9am- 11pm every day - 0508 744 633 www.2shine.org.nz
• Women's Refuge: Free national crisis line operates 24/7 - 0800 refuge or 0800 733 843 www.womensrefuge.org.nz
• Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and their children. Crisis line 24/7 0800 742 584
• It's Not Ok: Information line 0800 456 450 www.areyouok.org.nz