A jury has retired to consider its verdict in the "sad case"
of a Wellington journalist who died after he was beaten and
left unconscious last year.
Manuel Robinson, 18, and Nicho Waipuka, 20, have been on
trial in the High Court at Wellington for the murder of Radio
New Zealand journalist Phillip Cottrell.
Mr Cottrell, who had brittle bones due to a genetic
condition, suffered a shattered skull in an attack in central
Wellington as he walked home from work early on December 10
last year. He died in hospital the next day.
A jury of seven women and five men have sat through two weeks
of evidence from more than 65 Crown witnesses
Summing up the case this morning, Justice Forrest Miller said
Mr Cottrell had died violently and had done nothing to
provoke the attack.
"He was just walking home from work," he said.
"This is a sad case. We all have great sympathy for Mr
Cottrell and his family."
Justice Miller said the accused had "behaved despicably" and
the jury had not heard much about them that was positive.
But the jury could not allow that to influence their
decision, and they had to consider the case on the evidence.
Justice Miller said friends and family of the accused had
been reluctant to give evidence, which the jury could take
into account, but it did not reflect on the accused.
The Crown case was that Mr Cottrell was overwhelmed in a
brief but violent attack.
One of the scenarios the jury must consider was that both men
had given the fatal blow.
The jury could also find that one or the other man had
delivered the fatal blow, with the other man acting as a
party by encouraging the crime.
Justice Miller said the Crown had to prove the men acted with
murderous intent in order to find them guilty of murder.
If they could not prove murderous intent, the men could still
be found guilty of manslaughter.
Waipuka's lawyer Paul Paino had said his client admitted
punching Mr Cottrell once, but if anything he was guilty of
manslaughter, not murder.
Robinson's lawyer Mike Antunovic had argued his client was
across the other side of the road when the attack happened,
and he had not delivered the fatal blow or encouraged the
The jury retired shortly after 10.10am after Justice Miller
spent just over an hour summing up.