Blog » RIP Phillip Cottrell
I'm saddened by the news this week that Phillip Cottrell died of the injuries he sustained from an assault walking home from his regular shift as a journalist at Radio NZ in Wellington. While details of the attack remain sketchy, Police have revealed that Phillip was a quiet, unassuming man who died for the sake of a few dollars taken along with his wallet.
It was also revealed that he had a degenerative bone condition, or "brittle bones".
As someone who lives with the same condition (I don't know Phillip's exact diagnosis) I feel especially moved by this tragedy. Over the years I've experienced dozens of broken bones including arms, legs and vertebrae…mainly from simple falls that most people get up and walk away from.
I can appreciate first-hand the terror Phillip must have felt as his attackers approached him. He stood no chance of defending himself, and would have known his fate even before the first blow hit his fragile body. I wonder whether he pleaded for his life. They broke his arm, his neck and crushed his skull.
Phillip's death serves as a reminder to everyone that our actions often cause unintended consequences. While Police have labelled this a murder, chances are the attackers never meant to kill him. I don't say this to excuse what they did (any assault of any kind is inexcusable) but rather to highlight they probably had no idea of his bone condition and that their blows would prove fatal. They've probably assaulted dozens of people before, with their victims barely making the back page of the local paper.
Unfortunately this wasn't the case for Phillip. Unfortunately this time, they chose the wrong man to beat up.
"Treating others as you'd like to be treated" is a worthy philosophy in which to live your life, but I wonder whether it goes far enough. We're not all equal, and we're not all strong in the same way. Whether it be verbal abuse, emotional abuse, name-calling, bullying, physical assault or anything in between, we need to be mindful that not everyone is as strong as we think they are. Not everyone is as strong as we are. Not everyone wears their weaknesses on their sleeve.
RIP Phillip Cottrell. My thoughts go to you, your friends and your family.