Justice system failed Dudley whanau says lawyer

By Mānia Clarke

The family of teenager Stephen Dudley says the justice system failed them, which is why they want manslaughter charges laid into the death of their son. Lawyer Nikki Pender says they would like the solicitor general to review the case following the release of a coroner's report.

Stephen Dudley's family has reacted swiftly to the coroner's findings.

Stephen’s father Brent Dudley told Te Kāea, “We feel we've been shafted through and through by police, the crown prosecutor, the whole justice system has failed us.”

The Dudley’s lawyer Nikki Pender says, “The criminal justice system has really let them down and let Stephen down and they would like the solicitor general to review the criminal process with a view to laying a manslaughter charge.”

Coroner Matenga stated in his official findings that Stephen died of cardiac arrhythmia due to stress from physical assault.

“They want the criminal justice to reflect the true seriousness of what happened and what the actual legal consequences are.”

Dudley died four years ago at age of 15 following an assault after a school rugby practice by a teammate and his older brother at a West Auckland field.  The coroner's findings are insight for the family.

“On one level they're very grateful to finally get to this stage where they have had someone independently look at the evidence and reach the conclusion they had believed all along. But on the other hand, four years on it brings up old wounds, it's nearly the anniversary of Stephen's death.”

Two official recommendations were made. Firstly, to develop a program for Year 9 students to learn how to perform CPR and use an automated external defibrillator (AED).

Secondly, the Ministry of Education develops a guideline overview for all New Zealand schools at various consideration when purchasing an AED including appropriate training for staff and students.

Education Minister Nikki Kaye told Te Kāea that the Ministry is working on the recommendation to provide better guidance under the Health and Safety at Work Act, and will seek advice from officials regarding the benefits and costs of every child in schools being taught CPR.

Pender anticipates that she will send a letter of request to the solicitor next week.