You may be forgiven for having a hard time understanding why New Zealand is so soft on its violent criminals.
There are grave fears for the rule of law and order when thugs like Nicho Waipuka get off with a 8.5 year non parole period for the “manslaughter” of Phillip Cottrell, a former BBC Scotland journalist, who was stomped and beaten to death in a Wellington street in December of last year. Waipuka’s 18 year old co-accused, little Manuel Robinson, was acquitted of all charges.
According to a report in the NZ Herald (Horror as killer’s violent past revealed) a judge, who shied away from imposing a custodial sentence, sentenced Nicho Waipuka to “intensive supervision” for assault against a stranger two weeks before he attacked Mr Cottrell.
Waipuka was no stranger to the NZ justice system, already having amassed 24 previous convictions including assault and threatening to kill.
At the time the judge noted he should be sent to prison – but instead he gave Waikpuka a “last chance” by imposing a sentence of intensive supervision” allowing a violent offender back on the streets to attack again, ultimately going into town looking to “knock someone out” and coming across Philip Cottrell quietly going about his business.
At the sentencing hearing today Mr Cottrell’s relatives are feeling justifiably angry. His brother-in-law, Heath Hollows, told reporters he was angry Waipuka was on intensive supervision at the time he attacked Philip, that information had been withheld from the family and the public until today.
“We found that out just before we walked into the court this morning, and that was like an earthquake. It’s just rocked us.”
He said if the judge had made a different decision, Mr Cottrell might be alive today.
“Maybe he should have put him away and Phil would be here. People already knew what [Waipuka] was like – he was just given a chance, one too many.”
Mr Cottrell’s sister, Susan Hollows, who was visibly upset when the sentence was announced, spoke about her concern about the jury’s decision to find Waipuka guilty of manslaugher and not murder, thanking the sentencing judge for doing the best he could, but added
“Phil was taken from us in the most tragic of circumstances – an unnecessary and unprovoked attack.
“Nothing would have brought Phillip back, however we are extremely disappointed with the outcome having heard every shred of evidence before the courts.”
We ask this – did Mr Cottrell’s sexual orientation have anything to do with the jury’s decision and would they have regarded him differently if he’d been a straight, New Zealand born male and not an immigrant? and what responsibility does the NZ justice system take for allowing this criminal out on the streets to attack innocent people?
There is also another question that arises here – Do Waipuka and Robinson have any gang affiliations and is there any truth in the rumour (comments here) that one of them may have been a Black Power associate?
Gang prospects in New Zealand have to commit a serious (usually violent) crime and serve a prison term to be accepted. Was this the reason why the original judge was unwilling to jail Waipuka, instead giving him a intensive supervision order?
The time is long overdue to take a hard line approach with the Gangs of New Zealand.
An example of a Black Power Bebo Page: “Yo Fukin Yo”