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Critical condition within minutes of attack

Last updated 15:41 03/12/2012
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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Journalist Phillip Cottrell was in a critical condition within minutes of being attacked on his way home from work in the early hours of December 10 last year.

A jury in the High Court at Wellington has heard Cottrell was found by a taxi driver.

Tom Kelly said at first he thought it might have been a drunk man lying on the footpath in Boulcott St soon after 5.30am. He stopped to see if the man needed help.

But the man had blood by his left ear and did not answer when he asked if he was alright.

"I thought, this guy's in a bit of trouble here," Kelly said.

Paramedic Caroline Marshall said the man was breathing but critical when she and another ambulance officer arrived at 5.50am.

He had a "boggy" patch on the left side of his skull indicating either a fracture or a large bleed, she said.

When she also saw an obvious deformity in the man's upper left arm she decided that he had not just fallen and hit his head.

It is the first day of the trial of Nicho Allan Waipuka, 20, and Manuel Renera Robinson, 18, who are accused of Cottrell's murder. They have both entered not guilty pleas.

The jury of seven women and five men has been told Cottrell had a "brittle bone" disease. His skull was found to have shattered into more than 20 pieces, he had neck fractures and a badly broken arm.

He had just finished the night shift as a bulletin editor at Radio New Zealand on The Terrace, and was walking home to his flat in the central city.

Waipuka and Robinson are alleged to have encountered him in Boulcott St, and assaulted him without provocation.

Cottrell carried two wallets and both were taken.

He died in hospital the following day after life support was turned off.

'DELIBERATE ACT OF RANDOM VIOLENCE'

Earlier today prosecutor Tom Gilbert told the jury it was "a deliberate act of random violence".

The Crown said the pair had been involved in two earlier unprovoked and aggressive incidents with members of the public.

They were seen on various closed circuit television recordings before and after the attack on Cottrell, but the assault itself was not captured.

Gilbert said a few hours later at Wellington Railway Station Waipuka tried to withdraw money using one of Cottrell's bank cards.

The Crown alleged that both men later boasted of what had happened to Cottrell, but Waipuka's lawyer Paul Paino told the jury that that was bravado.

Waipuka admitted punching Cottrell once in the jaw as he passed and took his wallet, then immediately ran up Boulcott St.

Robinson's lawyer, Mike Antunovic said Robinson had been on the other side of the street, did not take part in any violence against Cottrell, and did not help or encourage what happened.

Justice Forrie Miller told jurors that the trial was expected to take about two weeks.

The death of Cottrell had attracted a considerable amount of publicity, the judge said. He cautioned jurors that the case could be judged only on what they heard in court.

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They were also warned not to make their own inquiries or to go to look at the scene.

- The Dominion Post

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