Witnesses tell of man's shattered skull

NZ Newswire Updated December 3, 2012, 7:32 pm

Taxi drivers and paramedics say they found the beaten body of journalist Phillip Cottrell in central Wellington amid blood and broken bottles, and that he appeared to have suffered a beating.

British-born Radio New Zealand bulletin editor Mr Cottrell, 43, who suffered from brittle bone disease, died from fatal brain injuries in hospital the day after he was attacked, on December 10, 2011.

Nicho Waipuka, 20, and Manuel Robinson, 18, are charged with his murder.

In the High Court at Wellington on Monday, the first day of their two-week trial, crown prosecutor Tom Gilbert said the pair had been acting aggressively towards strangers.

They needed money and attacked Mr Cottrell, who was walking home around 5.30am following a night shift, in a "deliberate act of random violence".

Mr Cottrell had his skull shattered into more than 20 pieces and his left arm badly broken, Mr Gilbert said.

The Crown would argue the bashing was carried out with murderous intent, or the men had an appreciation of the murderous intent, he said.

The first Crown witness, shuttle driver Tom Kelly, described finding Mr Cottrell on the footpath, with blood coming from behind his left ear.

"I thought 'this guy's in a bit of trouble here'," he told the court.

The first paramedics at the scene told the court Mr Cottrell was on the footpath lying awkwardly on his backpack, blood coming from his head and a golf ball-sized lump around his left eye.

Caroline Marshall described a "boggy patch" on the side of Mr Cottrell's head and how his upper left arm was bent at an unnatural angle.

Her initial impression was that Mr Cottrell had been the victim of an assault, and had not simply fallen over and hit his head.

Waipuka's lawyer Paul Paino questioned whether the injuries around the eyes could have been caused by a blow to the back of the head, and Ms Marshall said yes.

Waipuka had admitted punching Mr Cottrell in the jaw but denied kicking him.

Any comments he made later about the attack were just bravado, Mr Paino said in his opening statement.

Robinson's lawyer Mike Antunovic will argue his client had nothing to do with the attack and was on the other side of the street when it happened.

But the crown says CCTV footage shows the pair running up Boulcott Street together and they later lied about aspects of the attack and tried to establish alilbis.

The trial is continuing.

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