Police may review death of Stephen Dudley following Coroner's findings

Stephen Dudley collapsed and died after being punched in a schoolyard brawl following rugby practice.
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Stephen Dudley collapsed and died after being punched in a schoolyard brawl following rugby practice.

The parents of Auckland teen Stephen Dudley are delighted by news police may review whether to lay charges over his death, following a Coroner's report.

Brent and Mona Dudley have long maintained that the two brothers who attacked their son should face manslaughter charges.

"They welcome this announcement from police," said family advocate Ruth Money.

Stephen Dudley's parents, Mona and Brent Dudley, believe his attackers should face manslaughter charges.
JASON OXENHAM/FAIRFAX NZ

Stephen Dudley's parents, Mona and Brent Dudley, believe his attackers should face manslaughter charges.

"They always believed that this was a manslaughter case, and they believe their view has now been vindicated by the Coroner's inquest."

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In a report released on Thursday, Coroner Gordon Matenga found Dudley died from cardiac arrest, and also suffered from previously undiagnosed heart conditions.

The Coroner found Stephen Dudley died from cardiac arrest due to stress associated with a physical assault.
JASON OXENHAM/FAIRFAX NZ

The Coroner found Stephen Dudley died from cardiac arrest due to stress associated with a physical assault.

The Coroner determined the exact cause of death was cardiac arrhythmia due to stress associated with a physical assault.

Superintendent Tusha Penny, district commander for Waitemata, said on Friday police could reopen their investigation as a result.

"In light of the Coroner's findings police may look to review the case to determine whether any aspects of the investigation or prosecution need to be revisited," she said.

"Police appreciate this is a difficult time for Stephen's family and express their ongoing empathy for their loss."

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Lawyer Nikki Pender, who represented the Dudley family at the Coroner's inquest, also welcomed the announcement.

"This is a positive development to get the ball rolling," she said.

"We're prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt that this is genuine, and they'll do a thorough review."

Money said Dudley's parents were horrified by the plea bargain granted to the two brothers who punched up their son before he died on June 6, 2013.

Stephen, who was 15, brawled with the younger brother following rugby practice at a West Auckland high school, and was then punched in the neck by the elder sibling.

He collapsed to the ground and was pronounced dead after arrival at Auckland Hospital.

Police initially laid manslaughter charges against the brothers but withdrew them after receiving medical opinions about Dudley's pre-existing conditions.

The pair later pleaded guilty to assault and were both discharged without conviction.

The Coroner found the school was not to blame for Dudley's death, however he recommended it develop a programme for Year 9 students to learn how to perform CPR and use an automated external defibrillator (AED) as part of their basic first aid training.

The name of the high school in question remains suppressed.

The Coroner also recommended that the Ministry of Education develop guidelines for schools around purchasing AEDs, including appropriate training for staff and students.

 - Stuff

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