According to Stuff.co.nz, a New Zealand police charge of “attempting to procure murder” against AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd has been dropped. The 60-year-old rocker, who is on bail and is set to reappear in court at the end of the month, still faces one charge of threatening to kill as well as possession of methamphetamine and cannabis, which his lawyer described as “minor.”
Rudd‘s lawyer, Paul Mabey, said Friday afternoon (November 7) New Zealand time that the Crown Solicitor Greg Hollister-Jones withdrew the attempting-to-procure-murder charge after a meeting with Mabey and police.
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 He has now withdrawn the charge.”
He added: “The charge… should never have been laid. The Crown Solicitor’s 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 The charge is now withdrawn — within 24 hours of Mr.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.”
Mabey said Rudd would defend the threatening to kill charge. He described the drugs possession charges as “minor”.
Asked by The New Zealand Herald about the decision to drop the charge, 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.”
Rudd was arrested Thursday morning for allegedly trying to hire a hitman to kill two men. Their names and that of the intended hitman were not released to the media.
The alleged events reportedly took place between September 25 and September 26.
Rudd was facing a maximum of 10 years in jail if convicted of the attempting-to-procure-murder charge. The threatening-to-kill charge has a maximum sentence of seven years.
Full statement from Rudd‘s lawyer, Paul Mabey:
“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.”