One guilty of manslaughter in Cottrell trial

One man has been found guilty of the manslaughter of a Wellington journalist, but not guilty of murder.

Nicho Waipuka was this afternoon found not guilty of Mr Cottrell's murder but guilty of manslaughter.

His co-accused, Manuel Robinson, was acquitted.

Mr Cottrell's sister bowed her head as the verdict was read out. Loud sobs could be heard coming from the family of the accused.

Waipuka was remanded in custody until sentencing in February.

His mother refused to comment as she left the court room.

Lawyers for both Waipuka and Robinson did not comment outside court.

Robinson left the court room through a back entrance.

One of his supporters pushed a reporter aside when being asked for comment.

Detective Senior Sergeant Scott Miller, the police officer in charge of the case, said he was disappointed with the verdict.

Mr Cottrell's family was also disappointed with the verdict, he said.

Robinson, 18, and Waipuka, 20, have been on trial in the High Court at Wellington for the murder of Radio New Zealand journalist Phillip Cottrell.

The jury retired shortly after 10.10am this morning after Justice Forrest Miller spent just over an hour summing up.

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.

The jury of seven women and five men 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.

The Crown case was that Mr Cottrell was overwhelmed in a brief but violent attack.

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 attack.

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