28 Nov 2009

Sophie Elliot's father applauds law change

3:51 pm on 28 November 2009

The father of Sophie Elliott, who was stabbed to death in Dunedin by Clayton Weatherston, has welcomed the scrapping of the partial defence of provocation in homicide cases.

The Crimes (Provocation Repeal) Amendment Bill, which amends provisions of the Crimes Act, passed by 116 votes to five on Thursday, with the ACT Party voting against it.

Miss Elliott, who was 22, was stabbed more than 216 times at her Dunedin home by ex-boyfriend and former Otago University tutor Clayton Weatherston.

Weatherston argued during his trial that he was provoked, a defence the jury rejected in convicting him of murder.

Gil Elliott says it was probably the "blatantly" wrongful use of the provocation defence in the trial over his daughter's murder that spurred the Government to scrap it - a move he believes should have been made long ago.

However Jonathan Krebs of the Law Society is disappointed the Government hasn't provided an alternative, as New Zealand is now one of the few Western countries that doesn't have some form of recognition of diminished responsibility.

"The real consequence is that people who genuinely fit within the provocation situation are going to face convictions for murder which are otherwise unjustifiable," he says.

The law change follows two reports by the Law Commission in recent years, both of which recommended the defence be abolished.