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Crown dismisses Weatherston's claim trial was unfair

Published: 5:59AM Wednesday April 06, 2011 Source: ONE News

The Crown has dismissed claims Clayton Weatherston did not get a fair trial because of media coverage.

Weatherston is appealing his conviction for murdering his former girlfriend Sophie Elliott at the Court of Appeal in Wellington.

The appeal hearing ended around 4pm and the judges have reserved their decision.

Weatherston's defence team argued it was impossible for its client to have a fair trial because he was portrayed as a liar in the media.

Robert Lithgow QC also said a TVNZ programme might have undermined the provocation defence that Weatherston was using.

"The trial could not be fair...it's not possible to have a fair trial when people at the top of the tree of the justice system go on television and say the defence is rubbish," he said.

But Crown lawyer Cameron Mander says the TVNZ interview with Law Commission deputy Dr Warren Young attacking the use of provocation as a defence could not be linked to Weatherston's case.

The Crown also said the jury was expertly directed by the judge, who told them to ignore any media coverage.

Earlier, Elliott's mother Lesley, said her daughter's murderer's appeal hearing should not be happening.

Arriving at court in Wellington this morning Lesley Elliott said Weatherston had already had a fair trial.

"We want to get it over with and move on," she told reporters.

"We're feeling a bit nervous about it I must admit, it's bringing it all up again."

Weatherston's parents sat in the front row of a public gallery so packed that extra seating was needed for the day-long hearing.

Weatherston was not at court, and although the Court of Appeal does have the means for an appellant to watch via video link, the prison housing Weatherston does not have that capability.

Weatherston was sentenced to a life term in 2009 after stabbing his former girlfriend more than 200 times at her Dunedin home.

The judge ordered a minimum non-parole period of 18 years.

Weatherston, a former university tutor, claimed he was provoked into killing the 22-year-old university student.

That defence was rejected, and government later repealed provocation as a defence in murder cases.

Weatherston's appeal against conviction has already been delayed twice.

- with Newstalk ZB

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