Nicho Allan Waipuka, 20, had admitted punching Cottrell, 40, on December 10 last year, causing him to fall and hit his head on a concrete path. Between Waipuka's punching and the impact with the concrete Cottrell's skull was broken into 20 pieces. His arm was broken in two places and he suffered multiple injuries to his face and neck.
The jury heard from a number of witnesses that Waipuka and Manuel Renera Robinson, 18, had been wandering about the Boulcott Street area of downtown Wellington, with Waipuka in particular acting aggressively and spoiling for a fight. The Crown alleged that both men attacked Cottrell during which they stomped on his head.
Waipuka's girlfriend Sylvanna Robinson-Stepien, who is also Robinson's cousin, told the police investigating the case that Waipuka said he had chosen to goad and assault Cottrell because he thought the victim looked gay. However, in court she denied making this statement, accusing the police of lying about it. â€śIt's the most rubbish shit I've heard in my life,â€ť she told the court, while also accusing the police of corruption.
During the trial each of the defendants tried to shift the blame onto the other but the jury finally accepted that Robinson had not attacked Cottrell and had walked away during the deadly assault.
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