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Cottrell accused talked of looking for 'rumbles', court told

By Simon Bradwell

Published: 12:37PM Thursday December 06, 2012 Source: ONE News

An associate of the two men accused of murdering Phillip Cottrell says one of them talked of being "keen to knock someone out" the night before the radio journalist died.

Nicho Waipuka and Manuel Robinson are accused of beating Cottrell to death in December last year as he walked home around 5.30am after working a night shift.

Both men deny the charge. Waipuka says he punched Cottrell once, with no murderous intent, while Robinson says he witnessed part of the attack but wasn't involved at all.

Leon Flutey-Tuheke, Robinson's cousin, told the High Court at Wellington today that the evening before Cottrell's death, both Robinson and Waipuka had been drinking at his Lower Hutt home.

He told prosecutor Grant Burston that Waipuka had said he wanted to go into town to meet some girls and "have some rumbles".

Flutey-Tuheke, a shearer, said Waipuka was aggressive and saying he "wanted to knock someone out".

The pair, who he described as "tipsy", went into Wellington with another friend that night.

The next day, Flutey-Tuheke said he saw Robinson at the flat, and a black Kathmandu wallet was on the kitchen table.

The wallet had a passport-sized photo in it of a man who Flutey-Tuheke said looked "like a tourist".

He said he later saw the man's photograph in the newspaper.

Flutey-Tuheke told the court that Robinson said "they had done someone over and took the wallet".

He said Robinson told him he had kicked the man "in the head".

Flutey-Tuheke's evidence was given after he re-read statements in court that he gave to police shortly after the Cottrell's death.

But under cross-examination, Flutey-Tuheke told defence lawyer Mike Antunovic that he now couldn't be sure what Robinson had told him.

He agreed with a suggestion put to him that Robinson had never told him he kicked a man in the head.

He confirmed to Antunovic that Robinson was supposed to have an operation on his two club feet the day before they went into town but it was cancelled because of wounds on his feet.

He agreed that Robinson was a slow runner because of the deformity.

The Crown says CCTV footage shows both accused running up the street where Cottrell was beaten, moments after the attack.

Under re-examination from the Crown, Flutey-Tuheke stood by his statement to police that Robinson had admitted the kick.

"That's what he told me," he said.

Earlier, a statement read to the court said police hadn't found any identifiable fingerprints on a credit card of Cottrell's that was found at Wellington railway station, or his wallet and a business card found at one of the houses searched by police where the two accused lived.

As on other days of the trial, supporters of both accused and the victim sat across from each other in the public gallery.

Both accused sat silently in the dock throughout proceedings.

The trial is expected to wrap up next week.