The murder-for-hire charge against AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd was abruptly dropped by New Zealand authorities yesterday after the “intended hitman” claimed the charges were simply “hot air”.
Rudd’s lawyer said the charge was dropped because of a lack of evidence, however, the 60-year-old drummer still faces charges of possessing drugs and threatening to kill.
The man named in court documents as the “intended hitman” told the New Zealand Herald he believed the incidence had been blown out of proportion.
Describing himself as a “family man”, who was also friends with Rudd, the individual claimed it was “good” that the charges had been dropped and added that any suggestion of a murder plot was simply: “hot air”.
Rudd was arrested after police raided his home in Tauranga, an island off New Zealand. He was accused by authorities of threatening to kill one person and attempting to hire another in order to kill two more. He was also charged with possession of cannabis and methamphetamine.
The drummer’s lawyer Paul Mabey QC said in a statement: "The charge alleging an attempt to procure murder should never have been laid".
Mr Mabey added: "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 file was obtained today and reviewed," Tauranga Crown Solicitor Greg Hollister-Jones said in a statement, adding he had "made the decision that there was insufficient evidence to proceed with the charge of attempting to procure murder."
Bill Hodge, a law professor at the University of Auckland, said the events suggested police had overreached. "Usually you'd expect police to lay a basic charge, a holding charge," he said. "Then, maybe when they've got more witnesses and evidence, they could go for a more complicated charge. I don't understand the rush."
Hodge said Rudd could have a good case for seeking financial damages if the case against him fell apart altogether, but he may have little recourse if convicted on the threatening to kill charge.
AC/DC, one of the highest grossing acts of all time, are planning a world tour in 2015. They released a statement shortly after Rudd was first arrested confirming the band member’s arrest would not affect the release of their new album, Rock or Bust, early in December.
Rudd entered a no plea to the charges and will next appear in court on 27 November. The judge presiding over the case has order him not to have any contact with the alleged hitman.Reuse content