6 Dec 2012

Accused admits attack on journalist unprovoked

9:07 am on 6 December 2012

One of the men accused of killing a Radio New Zealand journalist has now admitted that the attack was not provoked.

Nicho Waipuka, 20, and Manuel Robinson, 18, are accused of the murder of Phillip Cottrell in central Wellington in December last year. They deny the charge.

Mr Cottrell, 43, was on his way home just after 5.30am after finishing an overnight shift when he was attacked on 10 December. He died in hospital the following day.

At the opening of the trial at the Wellington High Court on Monday, Nicho Waipuka's lawyer told the jury that his client admitted hitting Mr Cottrell in the jaw.

But in an admission to the jury on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Waipuka said that he delivered a punch and that the attack was wholly unprovoked.

Christopher Field, a friend of Nicho Waikpuka's, gave evidence on Wednesday afternoon. He said Mr Waipuka told him he had "murdered that journalist in town" and that he punched him twice.

The court also heard that Mr Cottrell's wallet was found at Nicho Waipuka's flat and a business card at Manuel Robinson's home after police searches.

Witness Russell Carter told the jury that he encountered the accused in a Wellington street a few hours earlier on 10 December last year and felt a little intimidated by them.

Mr Carter said that he and his wife were walking up The Terrace when they passed Mr Waipuka and Mr Robinson outside the entrance to the James Cook Hotel about 2am.

Mr Carter said that Mr Robinson asked him about six times what he was looking at and moved his arms aggressively.

The witness said he thought he might get into an altercation, had his wife not been with him, and they made their way into the hotel.

The court also heard from a police officer who recognised Mr Robinson from CCTV footage as a wanted suspect three days after Phillip Cottrell was attacked.