Murder accused fled within seconds

Pair seen running near dead journalist

Last updated 08:48 05/12/2012

Less than half a minute separated the last glimpse on security cameras of journalist Phil Cottrell and the first glimpse of one of his alleged attackers running away.

Phillip Cottrell
MURDERED: Phillip Cottrell, the Radio NZ journalist who died after being beaten in Wellington's Boulcott St.

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Less than half a minute separated the last glimpse on security cameras of journalist Phil Cottrell and the first glimpse of one of his alleged attackers running away.

In the High Court in Wellington yesterday, a police officer said she did not know the distance from the camera view to the spot where Mr Cottrell was found, or how long it would take to walk or run between the two points.

Detective Anna-lise Ferguson said the known time began when Mr Cottrell walked past the security camera closest to the place where he was found critically injured.

The same camera showed Manuel Renera Robinson running away 28 seconds later and Nicho Allan Waipuka 36 seconds after Mr Cottrell was seen, both on the other side of the road.

Robinson, 18, and Waipuka, 20, have pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Cottrell on December 10 last year.

Closed-circuit television cameras recorded their movements at several points in the central city before and after Mr Cottrell was attacked, while walking home about 5.30am after a night shift at Radio New Zealand.

However, no camera captured the moment when he was injured in Boulcott St.

Waipuka admits punching Mr Cottrell once and taking his wallet. Robinson says he was on the other side of the street and not involved in the incident.

The jury has heard it is likely Mr Cottrell's wallet could have contained $80 that a friend had repaid just minutes before.

The jury was also told yesterday that a worker arriving at the Dominion Post building in Boulcott St about 5.35am heard a young man in the street raise his voice to him and say something like, "What the .... are you looking at?"

A shorter, younger-looking man nearby seemed disinterested and was walking away, Phillip Barton said.

The jury has been told Mr Cottrell had a brittle-bones condition but he did not let what he called his "old lady bones" stop him living his life. He travelled widely and often, running his days off together so he could get away.

"He could almost get around the world in eight days," friend Andrew Bristol said.

The bone condition, osteogenesis imperfecta, also affects Mr Cottrell's sister Susan Hollows.

He was to have visited her in the South Island on December 12 last year. Instead, on December 10, she was coming to his bedside in Wellington. On December 11, life support was turned off and Mr Cottrell died of massive head injuries.

He had followed his sister to New Zealand from Britain in about 2006. She believed his bone condition was a very mild form and said she would be surprised if it had been described as "moderately severe".

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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