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Girlfriend of Phillip Cottrell murder accused a no-show

Thursday 6 Dec 2012 10:11 a.m.

Nicho Waipuka and Manuel Robinson

Nicho Waipuka and Manuel Robinson

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The girlfriend of one of the men accused of murdering Phillip Cottrell has failed to front up to court for a second time, after being summoned for failing to show yesterday.

Sylvanna Robinson-Stepien and her sister Renee, along with Robinson's cousin Bryce Stepien, were called to the witness box at the Wellington High Court yesterday but didn’t show.

Justice Forrest Miller issued warrants for their arrest, but police have so far been unable to locate the trio. It was hoped they would provide evidence about Waipuka’s involvement in the fatal attack on the 43-year-old RNZ journalist.

Waipuka, 20, and Manuel Robinson, 18, are jointly charged with Mr Cottrell’s murder, accused of inflicting fatal injuries as they tried to steal his wallet.

Waipuka has admitted to punching Mr Cottrell in the face, but denies murdering him. Robinson denies having anything to do with the attack.

Yesterday the court heard how Waipuka had told a friend he had “murdered that journalist”.

Chris Field, a friend of both of the accused, gave evidence on Wednesday afternoon saying he had met up with Waipuka to have some beers on the banks of the Hutt River three days after the alleged attack.

He told the court the pair had a conversation about the death of Mr Cottrell, which he had seen on the news that weekend.

“He told me that he’s wanted because he hit that journalist,” Mr Field told the court.

When Mr Field asked Waipuka why he was wanted, he responded: “because I murdered that journalist in town”.

Mr Field claims Waipuka punched Mr Cottrell in the face twice because “he wouldn’t give him a smoke”.

“Nicho had asked the guy for a smoke. The guy with the smoke said no. So he had a fight,” the court was told.

The trial continues.

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