Witnesses backtrack on kicking claim in murder case

Last updated 05:00 07/12/2012
Phillip Cottrell
MURDERED: Phillip Cottrell, the Radio NZ journalist who died after being beaten in Wellington's Boulcott St.

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Two cousins of teenage murder accused Manuel Robinson have gone back on statements they made to police that Robinson told them he had kicked someone in the head.

The two had been living with Robinson and others at a house in Avalon, Lower Hutt, in December last year when Robinson is supposed to have made the admissions to them.

Robinson, 18, and Nicho Allan Waipuka, 20, have both pleaded not guilty to murdering journalist Phillip Cottrell, 43, in central Wellington last December.

Waipuka has admitted punching Mr Cottrell and taking his wallet.

Robinson's lawyer says the teenager was on the other side of the street at the time and not involved in the assault.

One of the cousins, Bryce Stepien, told the High Court that Robinson did not kick the victim in the head - "that was a lie".

Mr Stepien, who was arrested to get him to court to testify, agreed he had told police that Robinson told him Waipuka had knocked a man out with a punch and Robinson stomped and kicked the man's head. They shared the $80 from the man's wallet.

But in court he said he had lied to police and the truth was what he had originally told them: that Robinson told him nothing about what he had done in Wellington that night.

Mr Stepien said he "wouldn't have a clue" why he lied.

Leon Flutey-Tuheke said Robinson never told him he had kicked someone in the head.

Mr Flutey-Tuheke said he saw a wallet on the kitchen table and inside was a driver's licence for a man whose photograph he later saw in the newspaper.

He said he was not sure if it was Robinson or someone else who had the wallet.

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- The Dominion Post

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