Sandra Conchie

Sandra is a senior crimes and justice reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times.

AC/DC drummer convicted of drug possession

AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd leaves Tauranga District Court after pleading guilty to cannibis charges. Photo / Bay of Plenty Times
AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd leaves Tauranga District Court after pleading guilty to cannibis charges. Photo / Bay of Plenty Times

AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd has lost his bid to escape a criminal conviction after he was caught with 25 grams of cannabis on his launch berther at Tauranga Bridge Marina.

Rudd, 56, who appeared in Tauranga District Court yesterday under his birth name Phillip Hugh Witschke, pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of cannabis and name suppression was lifted.

He was fined $250 plus $132.89 court costs.

The court was told that on October 7 when police executed a search warrant at Witschke's launch, Barchetta, berthed at Tauranga Bridge Marina they found a total of 25g of cannabis on board.

Witschke told police it was for his personal use.

His lawyer Craig Tuck sought a discharge without conviction arguing that the the consequences of a conviction would far outweigh the consequences of his client's crime, which he said was a lower end of scale in terms of its criminality.

Mr Tuck said in the last nine months Witschke who he described as "a drummer in one of the biggest rockbands in the world" had travelled to more than 20 countries and his many business interests required him to travel extensively.

A conviction could seriously affect his ability to enter some countries, he said.

"The impact of a conviction would be far and beyond anything a typical person would have to deal with if convicted of a similar offence."

Mr Tuck also submitted that Witschke's contribution to the local community, which would be in the "tens of millions of dollars", was a factor that the court and should be taken into account.

Police opposed the request, saying there was no evidence to justify a conviction would necessarily bar entry to any particular country.

Community Magistrate Robyn Paterson refused the discharge without conviction request and said in her view the grounds for doing so were not properly met.

Mrs Paterson said the cannabis was not there by accident and when someone chose to play "Russian roulette" with the law then they should be prepared to face the consequences.

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