6 Dec 2012

Witness says he lied to police over journalist's assault

6:15 pm on 6 December 2012

A witness at the trial of two men accused of killing a Radio New Zealand journalist says his statement to police that one of the accused had told him he'd kicked and stomped the victim's head are lies.

Nicho Waipuka, 20, and Manuel Robinson, 18, are charged with the murder of Phillip Cottrell in a central Wellington street 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.

In a statement given to police in February this year, Bryce Stepien said Manuel Robinson told him that Mr Waipuka punched Mr Cottrell in the head and that he, Manuel Robinson, had then kicked and stomped on the victim's head six or seven times.

In the Wellington High Court on Thursday, Mr Stepien agreed with the Crown that he had signed the statement as being a correct record. However, under cross-examination, Mr Stepien said he lied in his statement to police.

Earlier, another witness told the court that Manuel Robinson told him that he and Nicho Waipuka had rolled the victim and smashed him over.

Leon Flutey-Tuheke said he saw Mr Robinson later on the morning of 10 December. He said he saw a wallet on a kitchen table which Mr Robinson told him belonged to someone he and Mr Waipuka had done over.

Mr Flutey-Tuheke said Mr Robinson told him he was right there when it happened.

Mr Flutey-Tuheke said that, before the two accused had gone into the city, Mr Waipuka had said he wanted to have some massive rumbles and wanted to knock someone out.

Two Crown witnesses, associates of Nicho Waipuka, failed to turn up in court on Thursday and warrants were issued for their arrest.