Cottrell's killer has appeal dismissed

A man convicted of manslaughter following the death of Radio New Zealand journalist Phillip Cottrell has had his appeal against his sentence dismissed.

Nicho Alan Tamati Waipuka appealed against his sentence on the basis that the 15-year starting point for his sentence was excessive, the 12 months uplift for his previous convictions was excessive and that the minimum period of imprisonment should have been no more than 50 per cent of the finite sentence.

Waipuka was found guilty by a jury at the High Court at Wellington a year ago today.

His teenage co-accused, Manuel Robinson, was acquitted and walked free.

At the High Court trial, Waipuka admitted causing Mr Cottrell's death but denied murder.

He accepted he had punched Mr Cottrell once and contended that his death arose from Mr Cottrell hitting the pavement or kerb in the street where the assault took place.

The Crown's case was that the victim's death resulted from a punch followed by kicking or stomping to the head and arms.

Court of Appeal Justice Tony Randerson said a complicating factor in the case was that Mr Cottrell suffered from a rare condition known as osteogenesis imperfecta - a defect in collagen which made his bones brittle.

There was conflicting evidence from medical witnesses called for the Crown and, at sentence, it was necessary for the Judge to make findings of fact for sentencing purposes.

Waipuka's counsel Paul Paino said the way in which the Crown's evidence on the subject was led was unfair, as was the sentencing process.

However, Justice Randerson said the offending in this case was particularly serious and called for a sentence that gave full weight to the statutory purposes of denunciation, deterrence and holding the offender accountable.

"The protection of the community was also an important factor. As the Judge himself recognised, this was a stern sentence but we have not been persuaded that it was manifestly excessive."

Waipuka's appeal against his sentence was dismissed.

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