Mona Dudley and Brent Dudley leave Auckland High Court.
Inset: Their son, Stephen Dudley. Photo / NZ Herald
The teens who assaulted Auckland schoolboy Stephen Dudley
might have been sentenced but for the dead boy's family "it's
certainly not over".
"Not by a long shot," says Stephen's father Brent.
Last week in the High Court at Auckland, the older of two
brothers who attacked the 15-year-old at rugby practice was
discharged without conviction, just like his sibling.
Justice Helen Winkelmann's decision – based around the fact
Stephen's death was due to a heart condition - saw Mr Dudley
erupt in court; 14 months of pain he said he could not
"This is as emotional as we've felt since the actual event
took place," he told APNZ.
While the legal process was officially over, the Crown
confirmed a few days ago it would consider appealing against
the High Court decision which saw the 18-year-old attacker go
However, it might be weeks before the review was completed.
Mr Dudley said a conviction for the older offender would
partially ease the pain but the case had now become bigger
than their grieving family.
"It's about not opening up the floodgates for other poor
families to go through this," he said.
"We're almost obligated now to go as far as we can with this,
not just for ourselves but for New Zealand. This could've
been anyone's son or daughter."
In the last week he and his wife Mona had been inundated with
offers of legal support from people and organisations willing
to look into the case.
Mr Dudley said they would await the Crown's appeal decision
before making a decision on any potential private
He confirmed there were several groups who had approached the
family but did not want to disclose their identities yet.
"We owe it to Stephen to have a listen to everybody who might
have something to offer," Mr Dudley said.
One of those lending a hand was Dermot Nottingham, who lifted
the lid on odometer fraud more than a decade ago.
He said he had agreed to write a report for the family after
viewing the evidence before the court, and would assess
whether there were further legal avenues to pursue.
He was damning of Justice Winkelmann's recent ruling,
particularly in her assessment of the post-rugby-practice
fight as "schoolyard violence".
"There is no suggestion that any of the blows struck caused
injury in and of themselves. Assessed in that light, these
were punches thrown in the context of a schoolyard fight. If
Stephen had not died because of his undiagnosed heart
condition there would be nothing to distinguish this from
numerous school yard fights," the judge said.
Mr Nottingham said if that was the case, the school – the
identity of which is suppressed - may be culpable.
"I think the whole thing's a sham," he said.
- By Rob Kidd of APNZ