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AC/DC Drummer Pleads Guilty to Charge of Threatening to Kill

The rock band’s drummer could face seven years in prison for charges of threatening to kill a former employee and possession of drugs

Rolling Stone India Apr 21, 2015
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Former AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd at the District Court in Tauranga, New Zealand on April 21, 2015.  Credit: Marty Melville/Getty Images

Phil Rudd at the District Court in Tauranga, New Zealand on April 21st, 2015. Photo: Marty Melville/Getty Images

According to a report in the Associated Press, AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd has pleaded guilty in a New Zealand court this Tuesday to one charge of threatening to kill an ex-employee, as well as a charge of possession of marijuana and methamphetamine. Rudd faces prison time of up to seven years on the threatening to kill charge, although his lawyer Craig Tuck said that his prosecution is based on one angry phone call, and that’s he’s seeking to avoid legal consequences for the drummer. The 60-year old drummer was released on bail pending a June sentencing hearing.

Rudd acknowledged in the Tauranga court house in New Zealand that he had asked an associate to have the victim “taken out”, offering him a large amount of cash, vehicles and a house in return. When asked to clarify, Rudd said he wanted the victim “taken care of.”

According to the court summary, the dispute began at a launch party for Rudd’s solo album Head Job. The party, which took place at Rudd’s marina restaurant “Phil’s Place”, was even attended by the Mayor of Tauranga. However, through the course of the night, Rudd was concerned about the security at the event. Stated the court summary, “The defendant was angry that the album launch did not go well. As a result, he sacked a number of people from his employment and professional team. This included, among other people, the victim who he was particularly angry with.”

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Rudd also offered the associate “$200,000 [New Zealand dollars], a motorbike, one of his cars or a house,” which he took to mean was payment “for carrying out his earlier request.” Rudd then called the victim directly the morning after, saying, “I’m going to come over and kill you,” according to the statement. He called the victim again a couple of times, but the man didn’t pick up the phone. The summary stated that “as a result of threats made by the defendant, the victim was genuinely very fearful of his safety.”

The court summary also explains the search of Rudd’s home on November 6th, 2014 where they found the drugs. States the summary, “While being spoken to by the police, the defendant reached out to move a container containing cannabis crumbs from the coffee table and place it on the floor out of sight.” In total, police found 0.48 grams of methamphetamine in his jeans pockets and in his bedroom, and 91 grams of marijuana in several places in the house.

Tuck said that he would be trying for a discharge without conviction for Rudd in the case. At this point of time, Rudd’s future with AC/DC is unclear. Welsh drummer Chris Slade has taken Rudd’s place for the legendary rock band’s upcoming album Rock Or Bust, though it’s unclear whether this is a long-time arrangement.

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