Cottrell jury taken to assault scene

Last updated 16:24 12/12/2012

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The jury that is to decide the charges against two men accused of murdering journalist Phillip Cottrell has been taken to see the street where he was assaulted.

Before going the few city blocks between the High Court at Wellington and Boulcott St, Justice Forrie Miller told jurors the view was for them to better understand the evidence and to orient themselves.

Security consultant David Horsburgh had earlier told jurors that Manuel Robinson could not have been on the spot when Mr Cottrell was fatally assaulted.

Robinson, 18, and Nicho Allan Waipuka, 20, are charged with murdering Mr Cottrell a year ago.

They pleaded not guilty.

Waipuka's lawyer called Mr Horsburgh as a witness, interposing him between Crown witnesses.

Mr Horsburgh calculated Mr Cottrell's walking speed across the field of view of a security camera near the Boulcott St site where Mr Cottrell was found injured just after 5.30am on December 10, last year.

He also calculated a running speed of Robinson and Waipuka as they crossed in front of the same security camera running away.

If all three had moved at the same speed they were while in sight of the camera it was impossible for Robinson to have been at the spot where Mr Cottrell was found when Mr Cottrell was there, Mr Horsburgh said.

The jury has heard that Robinson has club feet.

Waipuka, who ran faster, could have had just over seven seconds in the same place as Mr Cottrell.

Mr Horsburgh agreed that he did not know how fast any of the men were moving once they were outside the area covered by the security camera.

A police officer who has also calculated the speeds and distances involved is expected to give evidence tomorrow.

Waipuka has admitted 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.

Earlier today Robinson's sister Terina said Robinson told her that he had been on the other side of the road.

She said Waipuka told her he had punched someone once. He flashed a wallet that he said had contained $80.

She agreed Waipuka had also demonstrated a kick but she got the impression that he had only hit the man once and he denied hitting the man after he went down.

That was when she asked her brother if he was involved.

"No, it was that c...", Manuel Robinson said.

On December 10 last year, Phillip Cottrell, 43, was assaulted as he walked home in inner-city Wellington after finishing a night shift at Radio New Zealand where he was a bulletin editor.

He died the next day in hospital from severe head injuries.

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Mr Cottrell had a rare form of a brittle bones condition and the effect of that on the extent of his injuries is an issue at the trial of Robinson and Waipuka.

The Crown alleges Mr Cottrell was punched and kicked.

In one of her statements to police Terina Robinson said that Waipuka said he had kicked Mr Cottrell but in court today she said a police officer had suggested that to her and she felt she had to agree.

"I just wanted to get out of there." She said she had been really worried about her brother and had been upset.

The trial is continuing.

- The Dominion Post

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