Three associates of one of the men accused of murdering a Radio New Zealand journalist in Wellington last year failed to show in court for a second time yesterday.
Sylvanna Robinson-Stepien, who is Nicho Waipuka’s girlfriend, her sister Renee and another associate Alek O’Connor were called to the witness box in the Wellington High Court on Wednesday, but didn’t show.
Justice Forrest Miller issued warrants for their arrests, but they have so far managed to elude police. Yesterday’s court session had to be adjourned early because the trio weren’t there to give evidence.
Waipuka, 20, and Manuel Robinson, 18, are jointly charged with the murder of Phillip Cottrell, who was fatally attacked as he walked home along Boulcott St in the capital last December.
The 43-year-old’s skull was shattered into 20 pieces, his arm broken in two places and he was left in a pool of blood.
Waipuka has since admitted to punching Mr Cottrell in the face, but denies murdering him. Robinson claims he had nothing to do with the attack.
Robinson’s cousin cries, admits lying
Bryce Stepien gave evidence yesterday, telling the court he lied to police when he gave them incriminating evidence about his cousin, Robinson.
He initially told police Robinson had bragged to him about kicking and stomping on Mr Cottrell’s head “six or seven times” and stealing his wallet.
“Nicho said he had punched the guy in the head which had knocked him down then Manuel had came along and gave him a few stomps and kicks to the head,” he said in a police statement last year.
However, in evidence given in court on Thursday, Mr Stepien said it was all a lie and his cousin didn’t touch Mr Cottrell.
“That was a lie, Manuel did not kick the guy in the head [...] I lied. I lied when I made that statement,” he told the court.
Mr Stepien raised his voice and was visibly upset in the dock when he made the admission.
Forensic and medical evidence expected
The jury is expected to hear evidence from two medical professionals who were at the hospital the day Mr Cottrell was admitted.
Neurosurgeon Dr Martin Hunn and orthopaedic surgeon Dr Nigel Willis are set to appear.
Forensic scientist Dr Steven Cordiner will discuss the results of the scene examination on Boulcott St.