9 Jul 2009

Murder accused tells court of volatile relationship

10:08 pm on 9 July 2009

A former university economics tutor accused of stabbing his ex-girlfriend 216 times has given evidence about their tumultuous relationship.

Clayton Weatherston, 33, denies murdering Sophie Elliott, 22 at her family home in Dunedin on 9 January 2008. He has admitted a charge of manslaughter at the High Court in Christchurch.

The defence says Mr Weatherston's personality and anxiety disorders meant he was unable to cope with the volatile relationship and he was provoked when Miss Elliott lunged at him with a pair of scissors.

Mr Weatherston told the court on Thursday that he met Miss Elliott in 2006 but they did not start their relationship until the following year after she went to him for advice about applying for a job in Wellington.

He said he went to a mediator at the University of Otago to ask for advice about teacher-pupil relationships before they started going out.

Mr Weatherston said Miss Elliott was very forward and more flirtatious than anyone he had met. However, he told the court that when they were in a relationship Miss Elliott would insult him, and on one occasion attacked him while they were in bed.

Mr Weatherston described Miss Elliott as harsh and abrasive, saying he was scared of her insensitivity and that she reacted violently on one occasion when she thought he had lost interest in her. He told the court he felt enslaved by her.

The court was told Miss Elliott was jealous of Mr Weatherston talking to other female students in his class and she also made it clear that other men were interested in her.

Mr Weatherston said Miss Elliott would discuss the sexual prowess of her former partners and he testified that he was repulsed when she talked about her past boyfriends.

He told the court he was horrified by the insensitive way Miss Elliott talked about a former boyfriend and said he was afraid she would treat him the same way as other partners.

Earlier, the accused gave evidence about his medical history, saying he had been going to counselling for anxiety since 1998.

Mr Weatherston acknowledged he would not be an easy person to have a relationship with while stressed, and said an incident in which he kicked a former girlfriend and made her nose bleed was caused by stress.