Murder-accused's life 'YouTube and video games'

Last updated 16:05 14/12/2012

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A jury has been asked to return a manslaughter verdict against one of the men accused of murdering journalist Phillip Cottrell.

In the High Court at Wellington this afternoon the lawyer for Nicho Allan Waipuka, Paul Paino, said Waipuka acknowledged the "terrible" crime of manslaughter for punching Mr Cottrell once and causing a fatal fall onto concrete, and taking his wallet.

What Waipuka is alleged to have said afterwards - which was denied - suggesting he had punched Mr Cottrell more than once and kicked him, was nothing more than bravado, Mr Paino said.

When the jury was considering whether Waipuka would have appreciated the consequences of a punch they should take into account his age and experience. If Waipuka's experience in life was YouTube and video games where people get shot and get up again, then that was relevant, Mr Paino said.

Earlier today the jury learned that Waipuka offered to plead guilty of manslaughter in March.

Detective Senior Sergeant Scott Miller agreed under cross examination that the offer was made in a letter from Waipuka's lawyer.

Waipuka, 20, is on trial alongside Manuel Renera Robinson, 18, who have both pleaded not guilty of murdering Mr Cottrell.

Mr Cottrell, 43, was attacked walking home at about 5.30am after a night shift at Radio New Zealand where he was a bulletin editor.

He died the next day from severe head injuries.

Waipuka admits hitting Mr Cottrell and taking his wallet. Robinson says he was on the other side of the street and not involved.

But in the opening words of his final address to the jury Crown Prosecutor Grant Burston said both accused were aggressive to other strangers in the early hours of December 10, last year. Both made admissions to various people afterwards, Mr Burston said.

Waipuka's evidence, from a security consultant who calculated times for running and walking on Boulcott St, where Mr Cottrell was attacked, has already been heard in the course of the Crown case.

Robinson did not call evidence and the trial has now entered the final stages with the lawyers' addressing the jury and the judge expected to sum-up the case on Monday at the start of the third week of the trial.

Mr Burston told the jury today that Waipuka and Robinson had been fuelled by a lethal mix of aggression and pack mentality, attacking Mr Cottrell because they felt like it, wanted money, and they could.

"They were the power on the street and they felt they could do what they liked and get away with it."

Mr Cottrell, a regular gym-goer despite the condition that made his bones brittle, would likely have sped up to avoid a confrontation with them, trying to get past before they could do anything to him.

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Mr Burston said the calculations of how long it would have taken to get from the point where Mr Cottrell was last seen on security camera footage to the spot where he was attacked, was based on assumptions.

It could not reliably be assumed that Mr Cottrell would have maintained the same pace as when he passed the camera.

The window of opportunity to make the short, brutal and nasty attack on Mr Cottrell did not have to be large, Mr Burston said.

- Stuff

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