November 8, 2014

Sophie's Legacy. Lesley Elliot and J. O'Brien

Sophie's Legacy
Lesley Elliot with J. O'Brien
Publisher: Random House
Date: 2011
Format: Paperback
Pages: 263
Genre: Memoir/Crime NF
Source: Local library.

Sophie Elliot had everything to live for - good looks, intelligence, friends, a loving family, a degree and a new job at the Treasury in Wellington.  And then, the day before she left Dunedin to take up that job, she was brutally stabbed to death in her own home by her former boyfriend, Clayton Weatherston.

Weatherston was much older and one of her tutors at the University of Otago.  When the public came to take his measure at the high profile trial in 2009, his narcissistic and manipulative personality stunned the nation.

My thoughts banner.
Sophie's Legacy is not my usual reading fare, I read it for a challenge that I am participating in - The Eclectic Reader Challenge 2014.  I spent a long while in the crime section of our local library looking for a book that I would want to read.  Eventually I picked out this one because I remembered the nights I sat in front of the TV during the news and watched some of the drama play out.  I was one of many New Zealanders  totally repulsed by the narcissism displayed by the murderer.

The book is written by Sophie's mother with the help of William J 'Brien who was a policeman for many years.  Leslie Elliot was in the house the day her daughter was murdered.  It happened upstairs and when she heard the shouts of her daughter she went to help, only to find a shocking scene.  The book details the terrible  murder and the events of that day.

This book is told from the victim's point of view, how that day impacted on her, as you can imagine it affected her severely.  She also shares the details of the relationship of Sophie and Weatherstone, and how the signs were there that he was a highly unstable character, yet with ways about him that sucked young women in.  Sophie herself was highly intelligent, the light of her family's life - she has two brothers and her parents.  I am sure she would have gone on to carve out a wonderful career for herself and to live a very fulfilling life.  All taken from her.

This book highlights the justice system in New Zealand from the victim's point of view.  Everything is geared to the accused, and there were substantial delays while the defence were looking for various things.  The Elliot family were kept in the dark about many happenings, which added to their stress and grief.  The defence set out to make Sophie sound like someone who had provoked Weatherstone into murdering her!  Her diary was taken and made public.  He had the best defence in New Zealand at the time - Judith Albett Kerr QC and Greg King ( who sadly a few years later committed suicide.)  Eventually Weatherstone was found guilty and given an 18 year sentence.

Leslie has begun to work with others setting up the Sophie Elliot foundation to set up prevention education for young women with regards to abuse in dating relationships.  I think she has a book coming out later in 2014 about this.

My heart went out to Lesley and the family, an ordinary everyday family catapulted into  tragedy and the public eye.  Sophie with so much promise her life taken by an abusive man.  It was well worth reading, Lesley made it very real.
5 stars
Crime - Non Fiction

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