Journalist's killer fails in appeal bid

Last updated 13:37 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
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 had his appeal against his sentence dismissed.

In December 2011, Nicho Allan Waipuka was acquitted of the murder but convicted of the manslaughter of Cottrell, 43, after an early-morning attack in 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 found.

In Waipuka's appeal, it was argued that the 15-year starting point and 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 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," Justice Randerson said.

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

She said the killing 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 close to murder and done with the dual purpose of recreation and robbery.

Waipuka's lawyer, Paul Paino, said it had been a short attack, between eight and 12 seconds long, committed when Waipuka was just 19 years old.

Given Waipuka's age, it was wrong to order him to serve at least two-thirds of the sentence before he could be considered for parole, Paino said.

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- The Dominion Post

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