Journalist's killer fails in appeal bid

Last updated 11:02 17/12/2013
Phillip Cottrell
KILLED: Phillip Cottrell, the Radio NZ journalist who died after being beaten in Wellington's Boulcott St.
nicho allan waipuka
FAIRFAX NZ
NICHO ALLAN WAIPUKA: Sentenced for manslaughter over the death of journalist Philip Cottrell.

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The man jailed for the manslaughter of  journalist Phillip Cottrell has failed in appealing his sentence.

In December, 2011, Nicho Allan Waipuka was acquitted of the murder but convicted of the manslaughter of Cottrell, 43, after an early morning attack on Boulcott St in central Wellington.

He was sentenced to 12 years and 10 months in prison with a minimum period of eight years and six months.

Cottrell, who was walking home from work at Radio New Zealand on The Terrace, was punched to the ground and his head was stomped on, the sentencing judge had found.

In his appeal, it was argued that the 15 year starting point, as well as a 12 month increase in the sentence for past offending, were excessive.

It was also argued that the non-parole period should have been at most half the original sentence.

Three Court of Appeal judges today dismissed the appeal.

The offending in the case was ''particularly serious and called for a sentence that gave full weight to the statutory denunciation, deterrence, and holding the offender accountable'', Justice Randerson said in delivering the decision.

Protecting the community was also a factor in dismissing the appeal.

''As the judge himself recognised, this was a stern sentence but we have not been persuaded that it was manifestly excessive.''

During the appeal hearing in Wellington last month, Crown lawyer Annabel Markham said the sentencing judge had acknowledged at the time that he began the sentencing exercise from a ''stern'' starting point, but he saw the killing of Mr Cottrell as requiring special condemnation.

She said the killing of Mr Cottrell had come about three weeks after Waipuka had received a final warning from another judge about an unprovoked assault. Waipuka had shown no sign of remorse, she said.

The Crown said that approach was appropriate for what the judge said was very close to murder and done with the dual purpose of recreation and robbery.

Waipuka's lawyer Paul Paino said it had been a very short attack, between eight and 12 seconds long, committed when Waipuka was just 19 years old. Given Waipuka's age, it was also wrong to order him to serve at least two-thirds of the sentence before he could even be considered for parole, Mr Paino said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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