The frustration of Stephen Dudley's family boiled over in
court this morning when the judge decided not to convict a teen
who assaulted the schoolboy.
The 18-year-old, whose name is permanently suppressed,
attacked 15-year-old Stephen from the side after a rugby
practice -- punching him in the neck and continuing the
attack while Stephen was on the ground.
Justice Helen Winkelmann indicated early in the sentencing
process she would grant the teen a discharge without
conviction, to the anger of the Dudley family in the public
"You're f***ing joking," his father Brent Dudley shouted.
"His actions caused my son's death . . . That's justice for
you New Zealand. The law's an ass."
A 16-year-old boy previously came before the High Court after
also admitting assaulting Stephen.
He too was discharged without conviction earlier this year.
The 18-year-old was to have faced trial for manslaughter but
in June pleaded guilty to an amended charge of assault with
intent to injure.
West Auckland boy Stephen died after a school rugby training
session on June 6 last year.
An argument between he and the 16-year-old looked likely to
result in a fight, which attracted the older boy to the
After he and the other boy launched a sustained attack, the
pair left Stephen on the ground unconscious.
He did not throw a punch.
He was rushed to Auckland City Hospital but died a short time
Critically, medical examinations showed an undiagnosed heart
condition contributed to his death.
As a result the Crown withdrew the manslaughter charge
against the older defendant after receiving two expert
reports on cardiac pathology and arrhythmia.
Today the court heard emotional victim impact statements from
Stephen's mother, father and sister.
Brent Dudley was particularly critical of the teen's actions,
calling him "the hand of evil" while staring at him in the
"The actions you took were nothing but cowardice and
brutality," he said.
"He was a lot smaller than you and you attacked our son from
behind. He had no idea about the attack he was to be
"Any thoughts of forgiveness are out of the question at this
stage. I hold you entirely responsible for the death of our
son . . . you own that."
Defence lawyer John Munro said his client had been excluded
from school and experienced severe social isolation because
of what happened.
He called it "a very very poor error of judgement" and
stressed how much he had learned from the experience, giving
speeches to young people at his church about the
The sentencing closes the legal chapter on a 14-month trauma
for the Dudley family during which Stephen's mum Mona also
appeared before the court when she actually shot her husband
Brent with an airgun while they argued.
She was eventually discharged without conviction but the
pellet which lodged inside Brent Dudley's chest was left by
doctors because of its proximity to his heart.
- Rob Kidd of APNZ