WELLINGTON: AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd has pleaded not guilty to charges of threatening to kill and drug possession, his lawyer told a New Zealand court on Tuesday.
Rudd was excused from appearing when his case came up briefly at the District Court in the North Island coastal city of Tauranga, where he was arrested on November 6 when police raided his waterfront mansion.
But the 60-year-old’s lawyer Paul Mabey said that since the veteran rocker last appeared before the court in November, he had filed a notice entering a not guilty plea to all charges.
Rudd, who is free on bail, has been charged with threatening to kill — which under New Zealand law carries a potential jail term of seven years — and possession of cannabis and methamphetamine.
He was originally also charged with “attempting to procure murder” but it was dropped after prosecutors examined police files and decided there was insufficient evidence to proceed.
Judge Tom Ingram ordered a case review in the same court on February 10 and said any trial was likely to be heard before a single judge, rather than a jury.
Such “judge-alone” trials are common in New Zealand when cases have been subject to intense publicity and speculation.
Mabey said after the murder plot charge was dropped that Rudd had suffered “incalculable damage” due to sensational worldwide publicity of the case and would consider “any possible remedies he may have”.
Australian-born Rudd has lived in Tauranga for several years since first moving to New Zealand in 1983.
AC/DC, one of the world’s top selling bands, this week released their latest studio album “Rock or Bust”.
Rudd’s legal woes have cast doubt on his ability to continue with the band, which plans a world tour to promote the album.