4 Dec 2012

No murderous intent in attack on journalist - defence

8:12 am on 4 December 2012

The lawyer for one of two men accused of killing a Radio New Zealand journalist late last year has told the High Court at Wellington his client did punch the victim, but had no murderous intent.

Nicho Waipuka and Manuel Robinson.

Nicho Waipuka and Manuel Robinson. Photo: RNZ

Phillip Cottrell, who was 43, was attacked on a central Wellington street as he walked home from an overnight shift shortly after 5.30am on 10 December last year.

He was found in Boulcott Street minutes later by a taxi driver and taken to hospital, and was taken off life support the next day.

Nicho Waipuka, 20, and Manuel Robinson, 18, have pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder.

The Crown alleges Mr Waipuka bragged to friends about attacking a man but in a brief opening statement his lawyer, Paul Paino, told the jury of seven men and five women anything his client may have said was nothing more than bravado.

Mr Robinson's lawyer, Mike Antunovic, told the jury that his client was on the other side of the road, and had nothing to do with the assault.

In his opening address, Crown prosecutor Tom Gilbert said both men were involved in an unprovoked, random attack of violence.

Mr Gilbert said Mr Cottrell received severe head and upper body injuries and never regained consciousness.

He said Mr Cottrell suffered from brittle bone disease but even accounting for this, the injuries were consistent with significant violence.

The Crown said that prior to the attack, the accused had been aggressive towards other people in central Wellington.

The taxi shuttle driver who found Mr Cottrell, and the paramedics who attended him, gave evidence on Monday afternoon.

The Crown intends to call 68 witnesses including some of Mr Cottrell's colleagues. The trial is expected to last just over two weeks.