AC/DC drummer’s murder plot charges are dropped

NICK PERRY
Associated Press

Wellington, New Zealand – — New Zealand prosecutors have done an about-face and dropped a murder-for-hire charge against AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd.

A spokeswoman for Crown Solicitor Greg Hollister-Jones told the Associated Press on Friday that the charge has been dropped due to issues with the sufficiency of the evidence against Rudd.

Rudd, 60, was charged one day earlier in the Tauranga District Court with attempting to procure murder, which comes with a maximum 10 year prison sentence. He was accused of trying to arrange two killings.

Three lesser charges against Rudd remain. Those include threatening to kill and possession of methamphetamine and possession of marijuana.

The Bay of Plenty Times newspaper reported earlier that the Australian-born Rudd was accused of trying to hire a hit man to carry out two killings. Police raided Rudd’s home Thursday morning, according to the paper, and held him in custody until his court appearance.

A judge suppressed the names of the intended victims and the would-be hit man, the newspaper said.

The court had declined to release further details.

AC/DC released a statement through publicist Benny Tarantini on Thursday saying band members had “only become aware of Phil’s arrest as the news was breaking.”

“We have no further comment. Phil’s absence will not affect the release of our new album ‘Rock or Bust’ and upcoming tour next year.”

“Rock or Bust” is due to be released on Dec. 2 and will be the band’s first new studio album in six years.

Rudd’s lawyer Paul Mabey said he was still getting up to speed on the case and had no comment. Mabey was out of town attending a trial when he heard about the charges, he said.

Rudd and the other members of AC/DC were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.

According to the Hall of Fame biography, Rudd first joined AC/DC in 1974, the year after it was started. Other reports indicate he left the band in 1983 but rejoined again in 1994. The Bay of Plenty Times reported that Rudd first moved to New Zealand in 1983, during the period when he had left the band.

AC/DC’s albums include “Highway to Hell,” “Back in Black,” and “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.”