The journalist who was beaten to death in a violent street attack in New Zealand’s capital has been named as Phillip Cottrell.
British media have identified him as being from Scotland where he worked for the BBC. He emigrated to New Zealand six years ago and was a news editor for Radio New Zealand in Wellington.
In a statement his old colleagues and friends at the BB C said
“Phillip was a gentle, kind man with an impish sense of humour.
He was a brave traveller, forever venturing to new countries and exploring new cultures. He leaves behind many, many friends in every corner of the world who will be distraught to learn of his loss.
“He was also a talented journalist with a passion for accuracy and precision.
“Phillip’s friends here in Scotland are devastated at his senseless death. Our thoughts are with his friends and colleagues in New Zealand and, most of all, with his family.”
It is thought that Mr Cottrell was mugged as he walked home in daylight following an night-shift at the broadcaster. He was found outside the Central Baptist Church on Boulcott Street (see streetview below) with head injuries, a broken neck and broken bones.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends around the world who are devastated by his death. In addition to his journalist work Phillip Cottrell was an avid traveller and his blog Airpoints adventure is a tribute to his sense of adventure and joy in the world. He will be sorely missed.
Phillip Cottrell was said to have been a keen traveller and had a passion for visiting far away locations, only to meet his death on the streets of Wellington at the hands of a local thug.
The BBC picked up the story in Britain, including this snippet of information
Det Snr Sgt Scott Miller of Wellington Police said the attack did not appear to have been captured by CCTV – but footage of the surrounding area was available. He said officers were contacting local businesses to obtain more recordings.
He added: “We’ve concluded our forensic scene examination and we’re going through our exhibits from that scene with our experts.” He stressed that street violence was rare in the city.
The latter part of that statement seems odd and dispassionate, considering that a man had just been beaten to death. Perhaps the police are a little too keen to put the attack ‘into context’ for the international media?
It looks even more incongruous when you read an article published today in the local newspaper The Dominion Post which says that violence and serious assaults have increased by over 40%.
Serious assaults in Wellington have increased by 43 per cent in the past year.
Police are investigating the homicide of Radio New Zealand bulletins editor Phillip Alexander Cottrell, 43, who died in Wellington Hospital yesterday after he was attacked in Boulcott St about 5.30am.
Three other men were also attacked in the weekend in what police say are separate incidents.
Monthly police statistics show an increase of serious assaults resulting in injury, in either public or private places, rose from 23 in October 2010 to 33 in October this year.
The monthly reports also show an increase of public place assaults from 62 to 65 in the same time period.
The paper goes on to details other street attacks over the weekend in Wellington and concludes with
Acting Wellington area commander Detective Inspector Steve Vaughan said the weekend attacks were “terrible and nasty”.
This is a selection of comments that New Zealanders left on the Dom Post’s webpage
The Mayor of Wellington and the councillors who work beside her are ultimately responsible for allowing these attacks to happen. It’s shocking that they have not come forward with more than platitudes. This needs action. Businesses, you and your employees are under threat.
Mr Key your government needs to react.Not surprised
With all the people that head into town for a night out, it’s hardly surprising there are many random assaults, fights etc there are hardly any police anywhere. I’m not against hitting the clubs, bars etc in Welly, I think it’s great the city has a decent night life but with the lack of law about, you’re giving a lot of drunken folk nearly free reign to do what they like, especially when it’s near to or at close time.Trevor Woolnough
My wife and I were walking through town at 10:30 Sat night, and it was kicking off then, never saw any police anywhere.
Our message here is don’t be lulled into a false sense of security in New Zealand, take as much care for your personal safety as you would do in any other country with a crime problem and a wide poverty gap.
Another aspect that is not being reported on by the mainstream NZ media is that Mr Cottrell was gay. Whether this was a factor in his attack remains to be seen but unfortunately there have been numerous incidences of gay bashing in New Zealand. Read Gay man dies after brutal Wellington assault by Gaynz.
We quite often blog about violent crime and attacks on migrants and visitors to New Zealand, these sort of things are a lot more frequent than you think.
You may be interested in other posts tagged
A group of four or five holidaymakers from Christchurch were attacked by a mob in Kaikoura early on Friday morning. Some locals are saying that it was a gang that was responsible (possibly the Mongrel Mob) and it is noticeable that some media reports are using the phrase “group of people” which is usually press code for gang.
Kaikoura is a small coastal town about 180km north of Christchurch on the east coast of New Zealand and a favourite setting-off point for whale watching tours.
Reports in the media about the incident varied.
The Marlborough Express‘ report says nothing about the visitors being holidaymakers and that the attack took place outside a pizza restaurant
Five Christchurch men were assaulted in an attack by a group of up to 30 people on Beach Rd in Kaikoura early this morning, police say.
Two of the men were ”severely beaten” and another kidnapped, taken out of town and dumped on the side of the road.
Sergeant Barry Hansen, of Kaikoura, said the victims, aged between 19 and 20, were attacked about 12.30am.
Two of the group were severely beaten while another was kidnapped, driven out of town in a Toyota Hilux, and dumped on the side of the road, he said. The abducted man managed to walk back into town.
A ”sharp weapon” may have been used during the incident, he said…read it in full here
Whereas a NZ Herald report says it was a group of 4 holidaymakers that was attacked and that the victims were set upon as they walked back to their hotel.
The reports of the injuries are pretty shocking and we wish the victims a full and speedy recovery from their ordeal. Was this just another attack on a party of tourists in New Zealand, or is there more to this story than is being released to the media?
We have an unconfirmed report that the men from Christchurch may have been Indian nationals, although that has not been confirmed at all.
Kaikoura is known to have links with the Mongrel Mob. In January of this year Mob members were part of a group of people who tried to flee from fishery officers after been caught trying to poach paua near Kaikoura. About 40 paua, (many of them undersized) were dumped back into the sea by the group when they saw fisheries officers watching. Police helped apprehend them when they tried to get away.
Local people made their feelings known about the attacks, with some saying that the town couldn’t be recommended to tourists any more and with hints that a gang may have been responsible. Kaikoura, it seems, suffers from many of the problems that plague small town New Zealand.
Their comments were published on Stuff, emphasis ours
Kaikoura is a small town surely those responsible can be found and made an example of. There should be zero tolerance to this sort of behavior. Find them and throw away the key harsher penalities have to be imposed otherwise no one is going to pay any attention and it will happen time and time again. This is not the image that New Zealand wants to portray the is a very real danger of allowing a society of yobs that will take over many towns in New Zealand. It is an epidemic that has to be stamped out sooner rather than later.
it would appear that Kaiakoura has had its fair share of badly bred mogrel dog tuckers for a fair while now . I for one do not recommend the place to any tourists anymore.. If the cops do get this mob what will happen to them,, in short nothing, the government arent interested
i lived in kaikoura and am well known there to.we never did things like that or our friends i just hope it wasnt a local gang.what gets me is that the police have yet to find 1 of the 30 people in the gang.are they crazy.how hard is it in a small town to find just 1.it has a small town reputation to gosip and the word travels fast.i live in oz now and yes its is nicer here but not all people are considerate.im shocked to hear that this has happened in such a beautiful small town.
Alcohol! ITS one of the worst drugs!
Yer i agree! No respect no hopers just drinking and fighting! while the government sells synthetic substances legally in dairies and lock up young good kids keeping outta trouble who just wana chill and not wanting to drink and why is it so normal for drunk to be complete assholes and its normal and excepted part of society! make alcohol illegal, come on and wake up, pathetic attitudes from the one eye nation! If those gang of kids were on the green natural! no anger no fights! logical????? stupid government! stop ya crap – - you sell alcohol and tax it! has anyone ever heard of someone overdosing on the happy backey! nope!!!!!
I was in kaikoura today and this country is so full of uptight angry wee teenages with bad attitudes! Suppose the only thing to do is move to oz where most people are calm, happy and friendly! Let the animals in nz carry on with there minor insignificant angry lives. Harsh but the truth isn’t pretty.
Update13 November 2010
We have received word that the people who had been attacked were a group of young students up from Christchurch on a fishing trip, still no real news on the mens’ backgrounds, or where the link with India came from – if indeed there is one.
We’ve also been told that some of the perpetrators have already appeared in court. This has yet to be reported on by the media, whether they were gang members, ‘wannabes’ or unconnected with organised gangs remains unknown.
Fotunately another report appeared in The Press yesterday, written by David Williams and Blair Ensor, in which a “stitched and bandaged Christchurch man” recounted a ‘‘thuggish’’ bashing by a mob in Kaikoura and the abduction of a friend.”
Their report stated
“Builder and barman Ben Murgatroyd, 20, said the ‘‘frightening’’ beating left him with a suspected broken cheekbone, bruises to his head and an eye almost closed over.
‘‘I tried to run across the road and run around the group, but one guy caught me,’’ he said. ‘‘I went unconscious and woke up 30 or 40 metres down the road, covered in blood, being kicked by six or seven people.’’
One of Murgatroyd’s friends was bundled into the back of a Hilux, ‘‘kicked around’’ and had to walk back to Kaikoura after being dumped at a dairy factory out of town.
‘‘Seeing him was a huge relief,’’ Murgatroyd said.
The report revealed that the group was comprised of eight friends from Christchurch – all aged 19 and 20 who had booked a Kaikoura fishing charter as a birthday celebration.
It seems that the attack may have been started after “harsh words” were exchanged with an “aggressive” driver whose friends then rallied round for a fight.
Murgatroyd went on to say
‘‘It was just a thuggish, small-town mentality. They jumped us and started yelling out things like ‘Get the f… out of our town’ and ‘ Don’t f… with the locals’.
He and his friends were yesterday relieved to be leaving the town, almost 200 kilometres north of Christchurch, after a day of giving police statements and receiving medical treatment.
‘‘It’s definitely put me off [going back to Kaikoura],’’ he said.’’
Update 15 November 2010
Five men were later charged please read Five Arrested In Kaikoura Mob Attack
Cantebury’s Star newspaper is reporting today on two racist street attacks that have taken place in Christchurch in the past few days.
The first incident involved a young mother and her children as she was putting them in her car and the second a man who was beaten by a skinhead as he left a bottle store.
Hazel Munro was putting her five-month-old daughter Olivia in her car on Windermere Rd in Papanui a couple of weeks ago when a full 4-litre can of paint was thrown at her from a mini-van as it slowly passed by.
She had parked there to visit a friend and was leaving to pick up her eldest daughter from school. The paint went all over Mrs Munro, her car, and some splattered on her two-year-old daughter, Samantha.”
Mrs Munro told the paper that she had heard the occupants laughing as they drove away and felt that she may have been assaulted because she was a Filipino, saying “they might be targeting Asian people” and described the people responsible as “European teenagers.”
The second incident happened around 10pm on Saturday as a Zimbabwean 19 year old, who is said to have lived in New Zealand for a number of years, was hit as he left a bottle store. He described his assailant as an intoxicated skinhead in his 30s. We went on to tell the media that
“he did get the odd ”racial slur”, but it frustrated him more when people who could not defend themselves, like Mrs Munro, were targeted. Read the full report here
Just last month we reported on how a thug involved in a racist street attack last August, had finally been made to answer for his actions when he was refused home detention for an assault on two Korean citizens.
At the time we said that was not the first time we’d highlighted racist attacks in Christchurch, nor was it likely to be the last. The incident involving the two Korean citizens was very similar to one we wrote about in February when 2 Japanese students were attacked by a gang of skinheads as they waited at a bus stop in the city. As far as we know no-one has been charged with that assault.
That attack drew a fair amount of contempt from the readers of Stuff who are very eager to talk about the issue of racism in Christchurch, allegedly a “haven for Neo-Nazis due to the lack of competition from other gangs”. At the time we mentioned that police in New Zealand still don’t/won’t collect data on racially motivated crimes, it is very hard to know the true extent of this problem both in Christchurch and throughout the country.
Everyday race hate rife in Christchurch - 3 Sept 2009
“An attack on a Thai girl, who was beaten up by fellow pupils on a bus, is part of everyday “race hate” in Christchurch, a homestay parent says.
Paul Stratford said the Avonside Girls’ High School pupil arrived at his house distressed and covered in blood after being beaten up on the bus after school on Monday.
The assault comes after a South Korean pupil had a knife held to his throat and was kicked to the ground in an unprovoked attack at a Christchurch bus stop last week…”
Covert Racial Prejudice commonplace in NZ - 12 November 2009
“A MAORI Party boss says hidden racism is rife in New Zealand.
Co-vice president Heta Hingston said fellow Maori Party member Hone Harawira’s email rant against Pakeha was no worse than “covert” racial prejudice commonplace throughout the country. “That email, I wouldn’t want to say [if it was racist],” Hingston, a retired Maori Land Court judge, told Sunday News.
“I can concede it is offensive to some people – nobody would deny that. But racism … in New Zealand, is covert. Very few of the ardent anti-Maori, anti-Islander, anti-Asian front up.”
If you’re out and about in Christchurch, NZ, late at night there is a strong likelihood that you’ll be set upon and robbed, according to the words of a judge recently quoted in Court News.
Its hordes of illegal street racers or ‘hoons’ are a disruptive force too, ruining the quality of life for a good many residents. Altogether it makes the city not a pleasant place to be in, especially once the sun sets.
“Street robbery becoming ‘almost endemic’ – judge
Street robbery was becoming an “almost endemic” part of living in Christchurch, a judge warned as he jailed three men for forcing a passer-by to withdraw money from a cash machine and hand it over. Judge Brian Callaghan said there now a strong likelihood that people in the city late at night would be set upon and robbed.
“The robberies occurring against individual citizens, with the demanding of money or items, seems to be almost endemic in Christchurch and that is why denunciation and deterrence are called for,” he said.
He was sentencing the trio for an incident where the victim – who had been drinking – walked past them in High Street, in the central city, about 1am on Friday April 2. He was accosted, assaulted, threatened, and forced to hand over cash and then make two withdrawals from an automatic teller machine.
Manu George Leonard, 33, Charlie Tihema Cooper, 17, and Christopher Puaaelo, 31, all unemployed, admitted the charge of robbery before their sentencing by Judge Callaghan in the Christchurch District Court today.
Crown prosecutor Marcus Zintl said all three of the men had been under existing sentences at the time of the robbery and Puaaelo had also been on bail…“more
The sort of crimes that the new Three Strikes law could be applied to perhaps?
Something has to be done to clean the place up before the Rugby World Cup in 2011. Otherwise thousands of cashed-up foreign fans, most of them thinking that New Zealand is a benevolent country with low crime rates, may be in for an unpleasant surprise.
What Lies Beneath – “Bizarre and high-profile murders of Christchurch women have spawned the title “Crimechurch”. Is there something uniquely brutal lurking beneath the Garden City’s polished veneer?” NZ Listener Magazine Article
Asians Attacked in Riccarton Rampage -”A number of Asian people were attacked attacked by a knife wielding robber in the Riccarton suburb of Christchurch” blog May 2010
Japanese Students Attacked at Christchurch Bus Stop – “Two students attacked by skin heads” blog February 2010
Three Violent Deaths on the Same Christchurch Street in Three Months - Residents of Olliviers Rd, Phillipstown are stunned after the third violent death in as little as four months and the armed offenders squad had to deal with a man supposedly armed with a pistol” blog August 2009
Christchurch, New Zealand Sucks – Kiwis talk about the city
New Plymouth is still having severe problems with its street thugs.
Graeme Waswo, a Taranaki limousine company owner, was so badly beaten-up by punks high on ‘P’ after the All Blacks -v. Ireland test on Saturday night that he is not going to refuse to let his vehicles enter the towns CBD at night during the three matches the town is scheduled to host during the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
It is so dangerous that he wouldn’t be able to guarantee the safety of clients or staff.
Mr Waswo knows a thing or two about security. He’s recently returned after spending the last two years organising logistics for the world cup in South Africa, he’d also spent 20 years in the US handling security and logicistics for the Indy Cars but is adamant there is nowhere more dangerous than New Plymouth at night. Strong words, sure to strike dismay into the hearts of those keen to promote New Zealand as a ‘safe’ destination for visitors.
“His company owns 19 luxury vehicles for executive hire. They’re already fully booked for the three Rugby World Cup matches scheduled for New Plymouth – but now, after being attacked while on the job after the All Blacks-Ireland test, he intends cancelling the bookings.
“They can either stay in the shed, or I’ll take all the cars off the road before 7pm,” he said.
“I’m not going to put my drivers or my clients at risk. I will not run my cars in the central area for any major sporting event – Rugby World Cup included.”
Mr Waswo is an internationally-recognised consultant on transport and security logistics for major sporting events, and returned to Taranaki just days ago after spending two years helping organise the logistics for the football World Cup in South Africa.
Yesterday he was sporting a black eye and badly swollen face after the beating by a group of what he labelled “P-fuelled thugs” in New Plymouth’s CBD.
The attack happened while he was chauffeuring a group of All Blacks sponsors, who had to get out of the car to help.
Yesterday Mr Waswo refused to have his photograph taken, nor would he reveal the identity of his clients.
No sponsor was injured, and Mr Waswo’s $400,000 Mercedes-Benz S600 was not damaged. But he says he is furious groups of young thugs are allowed to roam the city’s CBD looking for trouble.
“I spent 20 years travelling the USA working on security and logistics with the Indy Cars, and I’ve spent the last two years helping organise things for the soccer World Cup in South Africa – and I’m telling you, there’s nowhere more dangerous than New Plymouth at night,” he said.
Saturday night was a bloody disgrace. It wasn’t the rugby people who were causing the trouble – they were just having a great time – but it was the groups of young guys prowling round, looking for fights.”
Mr Waswo was beaten up when one of the group he was chauffeuring wanted to go to the toilet, and he parked outside public toilets on Gover St.
“A bunch of young Maori guys turned up. One of them threw something at the car, and when I got out to stop that from happening they just took to me,” he said.
“A security guard from a bar across the road as well as a group of teenagers nearby came to help me. And the All Blacks sponsors got out of the car and got stuck in too.
New Plymouth police acting commander Blair Telford said he was not aware of the assault…”
Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that the town is adequately equipped to deal with violent crime during the World cup, does it? New Zealand has a lot to learn from South Africa.
Related story: Police in Wellington are investigating three separate assaults following the All Blacks and South Africa match on 17 July 2010 link.
See also other New Plymouth stories
New Zealand, any colour so long as it’s black - Man attacked by gang for using wrong colour dog lead
Indian student attacked in New Plymouth no longer feels safe in New Zealand - student savagely beaten in a graveyard