14 Dec 2009

Elliott family seeks changes to Victims' Rights Act

10:38 am on 14 December 2009

The father of Sophie Elliott wants victims' families to have a greater say over the sentencing process once a person is convicted and to be kept better informed as trials proceed.

The Ministry of Justice is seeking public input into changes to the Victims' Rights Act and wants better communication between prosecution lawyers and victims' families.

Gil Elliott's daughter was stabbed to death by Clayton Weatherston at the family's home in Dunedin in 2008.

Weatherston was jailed for her murder earlier this year.

Mr Elliott told Morning Report it would have been better for the family to have more contact with the prosecution.

"We did have some contact with them, but really not enough - certainly nothing in between trial and sentencing when we could suggested what sort of a sentence we would like.

"But we're not exactly allowed to do that, because the prosecution are working for the state, they're not actually working for the victim's family."

Crown prosecutor Simon Moore says he believes there is scope for victims' families to be more involved in the court process and sentencing.

Mr Moore says people connected with the criminal justice system should be treated with a degree of intelligence and empathy.