Journalist's injuries match hit, fall

Last updated 16:16 11/12/2012
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 had fatal injuries consistent with being struck on the chin and chest and falling on to a hard, rough surface, a Wellington jury has been told.

Pathologist Marissa Feeney said Mr Cottrell's injuries were more severe than she would have expected to see from a fall, but it was a fairly reasonable conclusion and the most likely one.

In the High Court at Wellington Dr Feeney said her conclusions did not include taking into account the various statements allegedly made by the two men accused of murdering Mr Cottrell.

Nicho Allan Waipuka, 20, and Manuel Renera Robinson, 18, have pleaded not guilty of murder.

Mr Cottrell died a year ago today. On December 10, last year, he was assaulted on Boulcott St in central Wellington while walking home at about 5.30am after a night shift at Radio New Zealand.

Dr Feeney described skull fractures and breaks of his left arm and forearm that she said attributed to a fall. Mr Cottrell also had multiple fractures in the part of his spine closest to the skull and Dr Feeney said those were probable from forced transferred from the skull as part of the fall.

Orthopaedic surgeon Nigel Willis said he struggled to see how the two arm fractures - to the wrist and elbow - could have been caused at the same time.

One was typical of a conscious person falling with their arm outstretched and the other with a kick or falling on to the point of the elbow.

Mr Willis said Mr Cottrell had a brittle bones, one of perhaps 200 in New Zealand with the condition osteogenesis imperfecta.

Endocrinologist John Delahunt, who treated Mr Cottrell for his condition, said it was inherited and Mr Cottrell had one of the more minor forms.


Murder accused Nicho Waipuka looked like he was bragging or showing off, perhaps trying to be funny, when he demonstrated punching and kicking a man whose wallet he took.

Melissa Rutene was giving evidence about meeting Waipuka for the first time the night he allegedly fatally attacked journalist Phillip Cottrell.

In evidence Ms Rutene said Waipuka was repeating "Got $2?" and then threw a punch, repeating the words and the punch and then adding a hard kick.

Ms Rutene said Waipuka said he got $80 from the man. Robinson asked for some of the money but Waipuka said no, as he had got the wallet.

She asked Robinson if he had done anything to the man and Robinson said no - that was why Waipuka would not share the money.

Robinson looked a bit shocked when she told him the next day that the man hit in Boulcott St had died.

Ms Rutene was friends with Robinson's sister who told her that Robinson was keen on her. That weekend he learned that she was a prostitute. She agreed with Robinson's lawyer that he seemed a bit upset when he found out.

It is the second week of the trial.

Waipuka has formally admitted punching Mr Cottrell once. Robinson's defence is that he was not involved and was across the road in Boulcott St when the incident took place.

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He died from head injuries. His skull had fractured into more than 20 pieces, he had multiple fractures in his neck, and one arm was broken in two places.

- The Dominion Post

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