Accused 'ran off' at sign of violence

Last updated 14:22 13/12/2012
Phillip Cottrell
MURDERED: Phillip Cottrell, the Radio NZ journalist who died after being beaten in Wellington's Boulcott St.

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A teenager accused of murdering journalist Phillip Cottrell "ran off like a little bitch" when it looked like Nicho Waipuka was going to hit someone, a jury has heard.

"I ended up just running bro, honestly, because I'm not that kind of person that does that kind of shit, bro," Manuel Renera Robinson told a police officer.

In the High Court at Wellington today a jury has heard the interview Robinson had with police that was recorded on December 13 last year.

Then 17 and illiterate, Robinson talked to police without speaking to a lawyer.

"I just want to tell the truth and get it over and done with." Robinson told police officer Jana Peterson.

Robinson and Waipuka, now 20, have pleaded not guilty of murdering Cottrell, 43. He died from severe head injuries on December 11 last year, the day after he was attacked in Boulcott St, central Wellington, as he walked home from a night shift at 5.30am.

An attempt to use one of his bank cards a few hours later led police to suspect Waipuka and Robinson, who were captured on security camera footage at Wellington Railway Station, where the card was used.

A police officer recognised Robinson three days later, still wearing some of the same clothes, when he went to Wellington Youth Court to support a cousin who was appearing that day.

By that time Cottrell's death had been reported and Robinson said he knew why police wanted to talk to him.

"It was Nicho did it," he said.

Waipuka had been talking about "smacking someone over just for the fun of it," he said.

"I seen this guy coming down and I crossed the road because I knew what he wanted to do."

Waipuka punched the man and Robinson said he turned around and didn't look.

Waipuka said he had run "like a little bitch", Robinson said.

Robinson's defence is that he was not involved in the attack and had been on the other side of the road.

Attempts have been made to calculate how long it would have taken for Cottrell to walk, and the accused to run, between where Cottrell fell and a security camera just over 30 metres away.

Earlier in the day the jury heard from Sergeant Peter Sowter who said he had no idea of Cottrell's pace out of view of the camera so an assumption had to be made about that and the line he took.

A defence witness says based on similar calculations it was not possible for Robinson to have been on the spot when Cottrell was hit.

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But Sowter said all the calculations were based on assumptions of the routes the three people took and how fast they were moving out of view of the security camera.

If Cottrell had increased his speed and Robinson and Waipuka, were running faster before they reached the camera's field of view it would increase the time each could have been at the place where Cottrell was found.

The calculations illustrated the potential scenarios if the assumptions were changed, Sowter said.

The trial of Robinson and Waipuka is in its second week and is due to finish early next week.

- The Dominion Post

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