Phil Rudd 'murder plot' - charges withdrawn

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ACDC Drummer Phil Rudd. Photo/file
ACDC Drummer Phil Rudd. Photo/file

UPDATED 5.32pm: The man police claimed AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd tried to hire to kill two people is pleased the charge of attempting to procure a murder has been withdrawn against the rock star.

A spokeswoman for Tauranga Crown Solicitor Greg Hollister-Jones confirmed this afternoon the charge had been withdrawn after Rudd's lawyer, Paul Mabey QC, issued a statement announcing the sensational U-turn by authorities.

Rudd, 60, appeared in court yesterday after police raided his home in Tauranga. He was accused of attempting to hire one person to kill two others, and of threatening to kill another.

He was also charged with possession of methamphetamine and cannabis.

Mr Mabey said: "I was advised by the Crown Solicitor Hollister-Jones that he had reviewed the police file and the available evidence to support the charge of attempting to procure murder. He had formed the view that there was insufficient evidence to justify that charge.

He has now withdrawn the charge."

This afternoon, the man who was named in court documents as the "intended hitman" told the Herald he believed the matter had blown out of proportion. He described himself as a "family man" - not a hitman - and said it was "good" the charges were dropped.

But he did not blame police, who he said were just doing their job. The man questioned whether any suggestion of a murder plot by Mr Rudd, whom he considered a friend but had not spoken with since charges were laid yesterday, was simply "hot air".

Phil Rudd leaving Tauranga Court. Photo/George Novak.
Phil Rudd leaving Tauranga Court. Photo/George Novak.

He was leaving town this afternoon and could not say when he would return. A spokeswoman for the Crown said today the decision to lay charges was a matter for the police.

However, Mr Mabey said the charge "should never have been laid. The Crown Solicitors opinion was not sought. The charge is now withdrawn - within 24 hours of Mr Rudd's first appearance in court".

He said his client had "suffered unnecessary and extremely damaging publicity as a result of widespread and sensational reporting of a very serious allegation, which, on any basis, was never justified"."The damage to Mr Rudd is incalculable.

Questions arise as to the degree of care taken by those responsible for arresting and charging him with attempting to procure murder."When asked by the Herald about the U-turn, Crown spokeswoman Jan Fulstow said: "It is a matter for the police.

The police do not have to come to the Crown to seek permission to lay charges. The police make decisions on charges etc having regard for the evidence that they have.

"Whether or not someone is high profile makes no difference, it is a matter for the police."

While police did not need permission from the Crown to lay a charge, they had to be confident that they had a case strong enough against an alleged offender to pass the test required under the Solicitor-General's prosecution guidelines.


Phil Rudd, pictured earlier this year in Tauranga, has been a resident of New Zealand since the early Eighties. Photo / George Novak

Police said this afternoon: "After a first appearance in court (Rudd) was bailed to reappear on 27 November. In matters of this nature the Crown Solicitor then becomes responsible for the prosecution.

"Today the Crown reviewed the charges and made the decision to withdraw the charge of attempting to procure murder. Other charges remain before the court. As this matter is before the court, police will not be giving interviews on this statement."

Mr Hollister-Jones' office confirmed that after Rudd's appearance in court, the Crown Solicitor's office became responsible for his prosecution.

"The file was obtained today and reviewed. Mr Hollister-Jones made the decision that there was insufficient evidence to proceed with the charge of attempting to procure a murder. The police and counsel for Mr Rudd were advised of the decision.

"No further comment can be because there are three other charges before the court."

Rudd still faces the remaining charges, and could face a maximum of seven years if convicted of threatening to kill.He has been remanded on bail until November 27. His bail conditions include that he lives at his Tauranga home.


EARLIER: Tauranga police have just released a statement following the withdrawal of a charge of procuring murder, which AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd faced in Tauranga District Court yesterday.

The statement read: ''A search warrant was executed in Tauranga yesterday resulting in Mr Rudd being charged with possession of methamphetamine, possession of cannabis, threatening to kill and attempting to procure murder.

After a first appearance in court he was bailed to reappear on 27 November.

Read more:
* Phil Rudd's alleged 'hitman' speaks out
* AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd charged with attempting to procure murders

In matters of this nature the Crown Solicitor then becomes responsible for the prosecution.

Today the Crown reviewed the charges and made the decision to withdraw the charge of attempting to procure murder.

Other charges remain before the court.

As this matter is before the court, Police will not be giving interviews on this statement.''

4.13pm: The office of the Solicitor-General has distanced itself from the case of Phil Rudd, who has had a charge of procuring murder dropped.

Assistant Jan Fulstow, speaking on behalf of Solicitor-General Michael Heron QC who is out of the country, told the Bay of Plenty Times the Crown did not have any comment to make following today's U-turn.

Ms Fulstow said the case was a matter for police.

''The police do not have to come to the Crown to seek permission to lay charges. They will often consult with the Crown Solicitor in relation to cases but it iss a matter for the police to make a decision on charges, etc, having regard to the evidence that they have that would support a particular charge.''

3.40pm: A notice to withdraw a charge of procuring murder, which AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd faced in Tauranga District Court yesterday, has been filed with the High Court.

Tauranga Crown solicitor Greg Hollister-Jones has released a statement confirming the dropping of the procuring murder charge this afternoon.

Mr Hollister-Jones said the file was obtained today and reviewed.

In the statement, Mr Hollister-Jones said he made the decision that there was insufficient evidence to proceed with the charge of attempting to procure murder. The police and counsel for Mr Rudd were advised of the decision and a notice withdrawing the charge has been filed with the High Court.

No further comment can be made because there are three other charges before the court.

3.25pm: AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd is no longer facing a charge of attempting to procure a murder after suffering 'incalculable damage' following his appearance in Tauranga District Court yesterday.

A spokeswoman for Tauranga Crown Solicitor Greg Hollister-Jones confirmed the charge had been withdrawn after Rudd's lawyer, Paul Mabey QC, issued a statement announcing the sensational U-turn by authorities. Read Mr Mabey's complete statement at the bottom of this article.

Rudd, 60, appeared in court after police raided his home in Tauranga.

He was accused of attempting to hire one person to kill two others, and of threatening to kill another.

He was also charged with possession of methamphetamine and cannabis.

Mr Mabey said: "I was advised by the Crown Solicitor Hollister-Jones that he had reviewed the police file and the available evidence to support the charge of attempting to procure murder.

"He had formed the view that there was insufficient evidence to justify that charge. He has now withdrawn the charge."

Mr Mabey added: "The charge ... should never have been laid. The Crown Solicitors opinion was not sought. The charge is now withdrawn - within 24 hours of Mr Rudd's first appearance in court."

He said his client had "suffered unnecessary and extremely damaging publicity as a result of widespread and sensational reporting of a very serious allegation, which on any basis was never justified".

Phil Rudd, the drummer in the Australian rock band AC/DC, wasn't talking to reporters gathered outside his Tauranga house yesterday. Photo/John Borren
Phil Rudd, the drummer in the Australian rock band AC/DC, wasn't talking to reporters gathered outside his Tauranga house yesterday. Photo/John Borren

UPDATED 3.08pm: The Bay of Plenty Times visited Rudd's house again this afternoon. Although Rudd declined to talk to reporters, a reporter at the scene said the atmosphere at the house was much more relaxed than yesterday.

3.02pm: Police are expected to make a statement shortly in response to the dropping of procuring a murder charge which saw AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd appear in Tauranga District Court yesterday.

Detective Senior Sergeant Greg Turner referred the Bay of Plenty Times to a police spokeswoman, who in turn said a statement would be release shortly in relation to the charges being dropped.

EARLIER: In a press release sent out this afternoon Rudd's lawyer Paul Mabey QC said: "I was advised by the (Tauranga) Crown Solicitor, (Greg) Hollister-Jones, that he had reviewed the police file and the available evidence to support the charge of attempting to procure murder.

"He had formed the view that there was insufficient evidence to justify that charge. He has now withdrawn the charge."

A spokeswoman for Mr Hollister-Jones confirmed the procuring charge had been withdrawn.

The full press release:

Paul Mabey QC on behalf of Phillip Rudd

Mr Rudd appeared in Court yesterday charged with Attempting to Procure Murder, and also Threatening to Kill, Possession of Cannabis and Possession of Methamphetamine.

Some members of the media published his name, together with details of those charges, before Mr Rudd appeared in Court.

When Mr Rudd appeared in Court, he was photographed. He was bailed to return at a later date.

As a result of his appearance he has received worldwide publicity focusing upon the allegation of Attempting to Procure Murder.

The decision to charge Mr Rudd was made by the New Zealand Police without consultation with the Tauranga Crown Solicitor.

I am engaged to represent Mr Rudd on instructions from his solicitor, Karen Gravatt, of Sharp Tudhope Solicitors, Tauranga. I met today with the Tauranga Crown Solicitor and Senior Members of the Police.

I was advised by the Crown Solicitor, Mr Hollister-Jones, that he had reviewed the Police file and the available evidence to support the charge of Attempting to Procure Murder. He had formed the view that there was insufficient evidence to justify that charge. He has now withdrawn the charge.

Mr Rudd will defend the charge of Threatening to Kill. Charges relating to any personal possession of drugs are minor.

The charge alleging an Attempt to Procure Murder should never have been laid. The Crown Solicitors opinion was not sought. The charge is now withdrawn - within twenty four hours of Mr Rudd's first appearance in Court.

Mr Rudd has suffered unnecessary and extremely damaging publicity as a result of widespread and sensational reporting of a very serious allegation, which on any basis was never justified.

The damage to Mr Rudd is incalculable. Questions arise as to the degree of care taken by those responsible for arresting and charging him with Attempting to Procure Murder.

Citizens are entitled to a responsible exercise of the power to charge which, as is proved here, can give rise to potentially irreversible damage if that power is not exercised responsibly.

Mr Rudd is considering any possible remedies he may have.

Paul Mabey QC

- Bay of Plenty Times

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