WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand prosecutors on Friday backtracked by dropping a murder-for-hire charge against AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd, saying there wasn’t enough evidence to proceed.
But the 60-year-old member of the popular Australian band still faces a serious charge of threatening to kill, which comes with a maximum prison term of seven years. He also faces charges of possessing methamphetamine and marijuana.
In a statement, Tauranga Crown Solicitor Greg Hollister-Jones said his office became responsible for prosecuting Rudd after he had been charged by police and had appeared in court.
“The file was obtained today and reviewed,” Hollister-Jones said Friday, adding he “made the decision that there was insufficient evidence to proceed with the charge of attempting to procure murder.”
Rudd’s lawyer Paul Mabey said the decision to charge Rudd was made by police without consulting with prosecutors.
“The charge alleging an attempt to procure murder should never have been laid,” Mabey said in a statement, adding “Mr. Rudd has suffered unnecessary and extremely damaging publicity as a result of widespread and sensational reporting of a very serious allegation, which on any basis was never justified. The damage to Mr. Rudd is incalculable.”
Attempting to procure murder comes with a maximum 10 year prison sentence.
AC/DC said the arrest of its drummer won’t affect its upcoming tour or album release. The band 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. The band plans to promote it during a world tour next year.