A 16-year-old boy who assaulted Auckland teen Stephen
Dudley has been granted permanent name suppression and a
discharge without conviction following the victim's death.
In the High Court at Auckland today, Justice Helen Winkelmann
did not impose any penalty on the teenager. She said
Stephen's family opposed the suppression order.
The judge said the 16-year-old had already been held to
account for his actions and was confronted with the role he
played in Stephen's death. The 16-year-old had been excluded
from school and isolated from his friends.
Stephen, 15, died after a school rugby training session on
June 6 last year. He was taken to Auckland City Hospital
after being assaulted and died a short time later.
He was particularly vulnerable as he had an undiagnosed heart
condition. Stephen was struck by the 16-year-old, and
allegedly, an older teen, and did did not throw a punch
Stephen's father Brett read a victim impact statement to the
court today, in which he described the devastating effect of
the death on his family. He said they could not separate the
assault from Stephen's death.
"It's clear in our minds that your actions and the assault
were a significant influence on the subsequent events that
ultimately meant Stephen did not return to his family that
evening," Mr Dudley told the 16-year-old.
"I get up early in the morning and often visualise Stephen
emerging from his bedroom. To [wife] Mona and me, he was the
Mr Dudley told the boy he would one day have his own family
that he would love. Only then would he understand the
Dudleys' sense of loss.
Mr Dudley sad he prayed his son found a sense of peace as his
life ebbed away.
The 16-year-old was to face trial for Stephen's manslaughter,
but that charge was withdrawn and replaced with one of
assault that was promptly admitted. The older teen is still
scheduled to defend a manslaughter charge later this year.
Crown prosecutor Aaron Perkins said there was no medical
evidence to maintain the manslaughter charge against the
"[His] conduct after the violence does not reflect well.
Although he had no way of knowing how dire the state of
Stephen Dudley's health was he did not know of the underlying
heart condition he did none-the-less leave the scene without
showing any concern for his actions."
Defence lawyer Ron Mansfield said the 16-year-old's family
was remorseful. The 16-year-old regretted Dudley's passing
and mourned his death.
Mr Mansfield sought a discharge without conviction and name
suppression for his client, allowing him to return to school
and not himself be the victim of unwanted attention.
"It would be a sad consequence of his acknowledgment of his
wrongdoing if he himself then became a target," Mr Mansfield
"He has learnt from these sad events to walk away from a
Mr Mansfield said the 16-year-old had no history of violence,
and came from a supportive family that hoped he would further
Had Stephen's heart condition been known at the outset, the
16-year-old would likely have been dealt with in the youth
court, Mr Mansfield said.
- Jimmy Ellingham of APNZ