14 Dec 2012

Jury hears closing address in Wellington murder trial

5:36 pm on 14 December 2012

The Crown and defence have given their closing addresses in the trial of two men accused of murdering a Radio New Zealand journalist in Wellington last year.

Nicho Waipuka, 20, and Manuel Robinson, 18, are on trial in the High Court at Wellington charged with the murder of Phillip Cottrell in December last year.

Mr Cottrell, 43, was on his way home just after 5.30am after finishing an overnight shift when he was attacked on Boulcott Street in central Wellington on 10 December.

He suffered severe head injuries in a street attack and died the next day after being taken off life support.

Crown prosecutor Grant Burston told jurors on Friday the questions for them are to what extent each of the accused was involved, and whether either had a murderous intent.

"The brutality of the assault on Mr Cottrell, involving as it did, on the accuseds' own admissions, punching, kicking and stomping to the head, was such that the accused must have known that there was a real risk of death."

Mr Burston said the accused ran that risk anyway, because they didn't care and were fuelled by aggression and a pack mentality.

He said both were aggressive to others on the morning of the attack, both admitted to others about being involved in it, both were seen with Mr Cottrell's property, and both lied to the police about the extent of their involvement.

Defence closings

The lawyer representing Nicho Waipuka, told the jury to avoid emotion when analysing the facts in the case. Paul Paino said there is no doubt that if his client is not guilty of murder, he is guilty of manslaughter.

Mr Paino said Mr Waipuka would ordinarily be not deserving of an ounce of sympathy and that high prejudice would exist in people's minds when analysing the case and making a decision. He said both accused in the case were very immature.

Before the summing up began, the court heard on Friday that the officer in charge of the investigation was told in March this year that Nicho Waipuka indicated that he would plead guilty if the charge was reduced to manslaughter.

Mike Antunovic, the lawyer representing Manuel Robinson, told the jury the Crown had failed to prove that he murdered Phillip Cottrell by a country mile.

Mike Antunovic said his client was on the other side of the road at the time of the attack and did nothing to help or encourage what happened to Mr Cottrell.

Justice Miller will sum up on Monday.