Witness felt threatened by murder accused

Last updated 12:58 05/12/2012
Phillip Cottrell murder accused

ACCUSED: Nicho Allan Waipuka, left, and Manuel Renera Robinson are on trial in the Wellington High Court for murdering journalist Phillip Cottrell.

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

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A witness felt "a tiny bit" vulnerable when a young man repeatedly asked what he was looking at during an early morning confrontation.

Russell Carter gave evidence in the High Court at Wellington today at the trial of two men accused of murdering journalist Phil Cottrell in central Wellington nearly a year ago.

Mr Carter described an incident when he and his wife returned to their hotel on The Terrace, central Wellington, at about 2am on December 10, last year.

It is alleged Manuel Renera Robinson said five or six times," What you ...... looking at?"

Mr Carter said at the time he thought the man was older and he felt a tiny bit vulnerable.

"It was a youngsters street voice. I didn't feel very comfortable about the situation."

It was probably lucky his wife was with him because he had had a few beers and probably would have "had a go" back but his wife said, "Let's go", he said.

Moments earlier as they had approached the hotel door another man had stood in the middle of the path and Mr Carter had to walk around him. The Crown alleges that was Nicho Allan Waipuka.

Waipuka, 20, and Robinson, 18, have pleaded not guilty of murdering Mr Cottrell who was fatally injured at about 5.30am the same morning in nearby Boulcott St.

The court yesterday watched CCTV footage of the accused making their way through town and finally making their way to Boulcott St where Mr Cottrell was found.

The pair in the dock were wished luck this morning by the man who had driven them into Wellington earlier that evening.

Anthony Perry said he dropped Waipuka and Robinson near the hotel after 1.30am.

Robinson had been trying to arrange to see someone who lived in a nearby apartment but the visit kept being delayed.

Mr Perry said he was impatient and left them there. He arranged to come back for them but despite waiting for more than an hour, and texting them 20 times, there was no response so he drove away without them.

Waipuka had been intoxicated and Robinson had been drinking but was not intoxicated, Mr Perry said.

He had taken them to McDonald's near the Basin Reserve so they could have something to eat.

"In my experience if you are a little bit drunk and you have a feed it sort of mellows you out."

"Good luck guys," he said to them as he left the court.

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- The Dominion Post

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