Grieving mother avoids penalty over shooting

By Jimmy Ellingham

Mona and Brent Dudley. Photo / Michael Craig
Mona and Brent Dudley. Photo / Michael Craig

Stephen Dudley's grieving mother - who shot her husband while threatening to shoot herself - has today avoided penalty over the incident.

Mona Dudley appeared for sentence in the Waitakere District Court on one charge of injuring by an unlawful act, laid over the shooting of her husband of 20 years Brent on December 27. He was in court with her this morning.

Their 15-year-old son, Auckland schoolboy Stephen Dudley, died after school rugby training in June last year. He was taken to hospital after being assaulted and died a short time later.

Judge John Bergseng granted an application to discharge Mona Dudley without conviction.

``It's without doubt you are remorseful. You retain the support of your husband and your family and you have no previous convictions,'' the judge told her.

Earlier this year, Mona Dudley pleaded guilty to the charge, which carries a maximum penalty of three years' jail.

Judge Bergseng said Mona Dudley applied for a discharge because a conviction would affect her ability to return to work, be active in her children's schooling, cause further media and community exposure and cause further psychological distress for her, Mr Dudley and their children.

Mr Dudley was in favour of the discharge without conviction, the judge said.

"He notes the stress and grief that your family has been under. He also notes your more recent health concerns and his view is these are stress related.''

About 11pm on December 27, Mona and Brent Dudley were at home watching TV on a mattress when they started arguing. Their surviving children weren't present.

Mr Dudley got up to leave and Mona Dudley followed him, still arguing.

Soon after, Mona Dudley picked up a .22 air rifle that is used for shooting birds.

Mr Dudley pushed the butt end of the rifle into his wife's hands and said something like: "Just shoot me then.''

He repeated this phrase, holding both his arms outstretched.

Mona Dudley pushed the muzzle of the rifle into her husband's face, and told him she didn't want to shoot him. Instead, she said she wanted to be shot herself.

Mr Dudley grabbed the muzzle with one hand and the couple was pushing the rifle back and forth when it accidentally went off.

"The victim was shot in the middle of his chest with a single pellet. This has penetrated the skin and caused him to slump forward,'' a police summary says.

Mr Dudley collapsed on the floor. Mona Dudley, who initially didn't realise the gun had been fired, saw blood on his hand, and on his chest, and called 111.

Mr Dudley suffered a single entry wound in his chest area and needed immediate medical care.

He spent a fortnight recovering in hospital.

Outside court Mr Dudley stood with his arms around his wife. "It's just a silly thing that happened and we're glad it's over,'' he said.

The pair now had better things to focus on after a year that's been a "rollercoaster ride,'' and despite what happened between them, the pair were still against violence.

"We've always been advocates of anti-violence and we still are. With the stress that we were subjected to it was just a silly thing that happened.

"The police have got a job to do and they did it and we accept that, now it's time for us to get back into carrying on,'' Mr Dudley said.

Last month, a teenager who admitted an assault charge laid over Stephen Dudley's death was discharged without conviction and granted permanent name suppression.

Another teenager faces trial for manslaughter later this year.

- APNZ

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