Dudley family seek manslaughter charges

by Eva Corlett / 19 May, 2017
Stephen Dudley. Photo / supplied

Teen's family say the Coroner's findings are bittersweet.

The family of a West Auckland teenager who died after being attacked on a rugby pitch will seek manslaughter charges against his schoolmates, based on a new coroner's report.

Stephen Dudley died in June 2013, after a pair of brothers he went to school with punched him after rugby training.

A coroner's report found Stephen had an underlying heart problem and died when the stress of the assault induced a heart attack.

The 15-year-old had just finished rugby training when a teammate picked a fight. The teammate's older brother then joined in, laying one hard punch to Stephen's throat and more to his body.

Stephen collapsed on the field and despite CPR attempts by emergency services, he died in hospital less than two hours later.

The two brothers were charged with manslaughter but the charges were downgraded to assault after there was not enough evidence to connect the assault to the heart attack.

The boys were then discharged without conviction and with permanent name suppression.

However, coroner Gordon Matenga has accepted crown pathologist Paul Morrow's evidence that the assault was the most significant factor leading to the heart attack.

The Dudley family said the coroner's findings were vindicating but bittersweet.

The family felt robbed by their son's premature death and wanted justice, their spokesperson Ruth Money said.

The discharge without conviction was a dirty deal done between the lawyers, she said.

"We believe the appropriate charge is manslaughter, certainly against the eldest brother, who was very large when you compare the size of him and Stephen."

"It was a very violent, very physical assault... that's been backed up by the coroner's findings."

The family's lawyer, Nikki Pender, said they were writing to the solicitor-general to seek manslaughter charges against the two brothers.

"Stephen was happy and healthy one minute, the physical assualt happens, and he collapses."

There was no risk of double jeopardy - where someone cannot be tried for the same offence more than once - because the brothers were previously charged with assault, not manslaughter, Ms Pender said.

But the lawyer for one of the brothers, Ron Mansfield, said there was too much uncertainty over what was the key factor in Stephen's death and a new trial was unlikely.

"We're dealing with a criminal standard when looking at the culpability of a crime - the coroner's not."

"He's looking for the cause of death... They are quite distinct."

Assessing criminal conduct had already been done by people at a very senior level, involving specialists, Mr Mansfield said.

"The outcome was just and fair."

It was wrong to see the brothers as villains, he said.

The coroner recommended the school in question develop a CPR training program and said the Ministry of Education should form guidelines on the use of defibrillators.

This article was originally published by RNZ.

MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage

Latest

Budget 2017: 'Rinky-dink' and 'communism by stealth'
73734 2017-05-25 16:14:28Z Politics

Budget 2017: 'Rinky-dink' and 'communism by stealt…

by RNZ

The government's budget is "rinky-dink" and will provide some minimum-wage earners with only one extra dollar a week, Labour says.

Read more
Budget 2017: What you need to know
73714 2017-05-25 14:13:58Z Politics

Budget 2017: What you need to know

by RNZ

Finance Minister Steven Joyce has revealed this year's Budget. Here's what you need to know - at a glance.

Read more
America's Cup: Where are all the women?
73693 2017-05-25 12:13:16Z Sport

America's Cup: Where are all the women?

by RNZ

When it comes to sport, the America's Cup is at the pinnacle for new technology, but it remains in the dark ages when it comes to gender equality.

Read more
Grandparents are unrecognised victims of the P crisis – we need to support them
73676 2017-05-25 10:48:28Z Social issues

Grandparents are unrecognised victims of the P cri…

by The Listener

Methamphetamine is the ultimate time bomb, with an ability to reach backwards as well as forwards in ruining the lives of three generations at once.

Read more
The 2017 World Press Photo exhibition is coming, plus more Auckland events
Breaking the code of silence: When police speak out against their own
70187 2017-05-25 00:00:00Z Social issues

Breaking the code of silence: When police speak ou…

by North & South

No greater moral courage is shown than by those who blow the whistle on colleagues they believe have acted violently.

Read more
How Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei is tackling the Auckland housing crisis
73576 2017-05-25 00:00:00Z Property

How Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei is tackling the Auckland h…

by Bianca Zander

Behind Bastion Point, in a suburb with a long and tumultuous history, a stronghold of 30 striking new houses occupies the ridgeline.

Read more
Forgotten spaces: A photographic lament for New Zealand's retail dead zones
73602 2017-05-25 00:00:00Z Property

Forgotten spaces: A photographic lament for New Ze…

by Jeremy Hansen

Some places forge ahead. Others stay the same, or slip slowly away.

Read more