Accused looking for fight, court told

Last updated 15:26 06/12/2012
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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One of the men accused of murdering Wellington journalist Phillip Cottrell had gone out looking for a fight, a jury has been told.

Nicho Allan Waipuka had been drinking, was aggressive, and said he wanted to have "some massive rumbles", Leon Flutey-Tuheke said in the High Court at Wellington today.

But he agreed that was how a lot of people in their group talked.

Flutey-Tuheke is the cousin of the teenager accused of murder alongside Waipuka.

Waipuka, 20, and Manuel Renera Robinson, 18, have pleaded not guilty of murdering Cottrell, 43, on December 10, last year.

Cottrell was hit as he walked home about 5.30am in on Boulcott St, Wellington after finishing a night shift at Radio New Zealand where he worked as a bulletin editor.

Cottrell had a brittle bone condition and his skull was shattered into more than 20 pieces. He also suffered neck and arm fractures. He died from the head injury the following day.

Waipuka has admitted punching Cottrell once in the jaw but Robinson's defence is that he was on the other side of the road when that happened and was not involved.

In the early part of his evidence Flutey-Tuheke said Robinson showed him a wallet he said he and "Nicho" got when they "rolled someone over".

Flutey-Tuheke said Robinson had told him "We smashed this fella over and took his wallet".

Later Robinson said he had kicked the man in the head, Flutey-Tuheke said. But under cross examination he agreed with Robinson's lawyer that Robinson never said he had kicked the man in the head.

Flutey-Tuheke then agreed with the prosecutor that he had told the police that was what Robinson said, and signed the statement as being true.

He also went back on evidence that Robinson had told him he had got the wallet and that what was actually said was that Nicho got a wallet.

He told the court he could not be sure he correctly remembered what Robinson told him, nor if it was Robinson who had the wallet as it could have been someone else who had it.

The wallet contained a photo driver's licence. Flutey-Tuheke said he later saw a photograph in the newspaper of the same man.

Flutey-Tuheke said the wallet appeared the morning after Robinson and Waipuka had gone into "town" from Lower Hutt. Later Robinson could not find the wallet and looked "a bit worried".

Just before his death Cottrell received a platinum credit card and had been very proud of it, friend Sashi Meanger said.

The card meant he would accumulate more points with Qantas that he could use to go travelling, which he did often.

Cottrell went to the gym regularly and walked a lot, but because of his brittle bone condition he did not want to fall and was careful about where he stepped, Meanger said.

The trial is continuing.

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- The Dominion Post

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