17 Dec 2012

Manslaughter conviction, acquittal for journalist's death

9:11 pm on 17 December 2012

One of the men charged over the killing of a Radio New Zealand journalist has been found guilty of manslaughter.

Nicho Waipuka, 20, and Manuel Robinson, 18, were charged with the murder of Phillip Cottrell late last year.

The jury in the High Court at Wellington found Waipuka not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.

Robinson has been found not guilty of murder or manslaughter.

Mr Cottrell, 43, died a day after being attacked in Boulcott Street, in central Wellington while heading home from working a night shift.

The jury of seven women and five men spent about six hours deliberating.

The jury retired at 10.30 on Monday morning and returned with a question just after the lunch break at 2.15pm.

They asked the Judge what was the standard required to decide murderous intent. Justice Miller told them that it was beyond reasonable doubt.

Justice Miller spent 70 minutes on Monday summing up the two week trial at the High Court in Wellington.

He told the jury that Mr Cottrell died violently and had done nothing to put himself in harm's way.

Justice Miller said that while it would be natural to have great sympathy for the victim and to think poorly of the two accused, who by their own accounts acted appallingly, the jury cannot allow these feelings to influence their decision.

He said the jury cannot hold it against the accused that family and friends, called as Crown witnesses, gave evidence with considerable reluctance.

Waipuka will be sentenced in February.

Family disappointed

The family of Mr Cottrell is disappointed with the verdict.

Outside the court, Mr Cottrell's sister, Sue Hollows, said her brother was taken in the most tragic and unnecessary attack.

She says nothing would have bought him back but the family is disappointed with the verdict.