David Fisher is a senior reporter for the NZ Herald.

AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd involved in aggressive fracas

An eyewitness to an altercation involving AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd today says the rocker was warned: "Back up. I don't want to break your face."

The warning came from a man who wound up in a confrontation with Rudd, according to Leo Rojas, 26, owner of Columbus Coffee cafe in Gate Pa, Tauranga.

Mr Rojas was drawn outside his cafe by sounds of a fracas. He said he was confronted by the sight of an altercation between Rudd, who he did not immediately recognise, and a much larger man, who was almost 2m tall.

"I thought the big guy was trying to abuse an old man. Then I released it was the old man trying to fight the big guy."

Mr Rojas initially tried to separate the pair, then fell back, at which point the warning was issued.

"The big guy lost his cool. He pushed Phil really strongly. Phil fell to the floor."

While the larger man tried to make it to his car, Mr Rojas said the altercation continued.

"Then the big guy pushed him to the floor again. Phil shouted out 'that's why you don't work with the mafia'. It was weird.

"The big guy is saying 'Phil, get out of my way. That's why I don't work for you anymore.'

"Phil was saying motherf***er'."

Mr Rojas said Rudd's bodyguard then tried to hold his employer back to allow the larger man to get to his car.

"Phil started punching and kicking his own bodyguard, which I don't understand."

Mr Rojas said the confrontation with the larger man was aggressive but no punches were thrown.

He said he believed Rudd had been in a neighbouring bakery and bumped into the man, who had stopped at a table outside the cafe to ask a patron for something.

A staff member sent back to the cafe had called police, who handcuffed Rudd outside Tauranga Girls' College, a few minutes' walk away.

The altercation saw Rudd back in court, where he was bailed again on condition he not consume illicit substances.

His lawyer said Rudd had a "chance meeting" with someone he was barred from contacting under his previous bail conditions.

Rudd's bail conditions included having no contact with any of the complainants and police witnesses named in the police charge sheets.

His lawyer, Craig Tuck, told Judge Paul Geoghegan his client acknowledged that he had breached the non-association condition by having contact with a police witnesses at a local shop, and sought re-admission to bail, subject to tightened bail conditions.

Crown solicitor Greg Hollister-Jones said this was a serious breach because it involved potential inference with a Crown witness and urged the breach to be noted on the court record.

Judge Geoghegan agreed that was appropriate, and readmitted Rudd to bail after varying his bail conditions to include a further condition, which bans him from consuming illegal drugs.

Mr Hollister-Jones said he sought this extra condition because Rudd's behaviour had been erratic and it would help to manage his compliance with all his bail conditions.

Rudd is due back in court on February 10 for a case review hearing.

Rudd mumbled unintelligible responses when questioned by media as he was leaving the court with Mr Tuck today.

Mr Tuck said outside court the incident had been a chance meeting.

"It was a meeting with somebody he wasn't meant to associate with in a shop. It was a chance meeting and then there was contact from that."

Rudd then sped off in a waiting sportscar.

Rudd was taken into police custody outside Tauranga Girls' College around 10.45am today.

He was handcuffed and taken to Tauranga police station.

Witness Tim Carson said police pulled over two cars outside the school.

"He was out and bloody dancing around and carrying on and ... led back to the cop car and was driven away."

Mr Carson said it seemed like one car had been chasing the other.

Police said they would not be comment on the incident and directed all enquiries to Rudd's lawyer.

- NZ Herald

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