13 Jun 2016

Teen's teammate describes fatal blows

8:42 pm on 13 June 2016

A west Auckland teenager who died from being punched after a rugby training session was hit so forcefully he could not stand and was gasping for breath, a team-mate who helped him says.

Stephen Dudley

Stephen Dudley Photo: SUPPLIED

Stephen Dudley, 15, who had an undiagnosed heart condition, died in hospital after being hit in June 2013.

Two brothers charged over his death that month were discharged without conviction a year later and have permanent name suppression.

A coronial inquest started today in the Auckland District Court, three years after Stephen's death, and is set to last for five days.

Giving evidence at the inquest, one of Stephen's team-mates described how one of the brothers struck him several times before walking off the field.

The witness, who has name suppression, said he tried to shield Stephen with his own body and had to hold him up after he was hit.

He had tried to turn Stephen's head to stop him feeling the full force of the blows, he said.

"He used heaps of force because Stephen fell into me. I was holding Stephen up," he said.

"I knew that they were going to keep punching him so I turned his head... to protect him. I was trying to push them back so their punches weren't as hard.

"I let go Stephen and he slowly fell to the ground. I could hear him gasp for breath. I put Stephen in the recovery position and put my jumper under his head to comfort him."

A second witness, who also had name suppression, said the fight started after Stephen took some "mocking" seriously.

The fight lasted about five minutes but the punching only lasted for about a minute, he said.

The witness, who filmed the fight on his iPod Touch, said the pair had been in a verbal argument and might have walked away from each other if spectators hadn't egged them on.

He said the attacker used a straight arm to hit Stephen in the neck.

When Stephen fell to the ground, after being punched several times, he was foaming at the mouth and had bulging veins on his neck, he said.

He deleted the video of the fight that evening out of respect for Stephen, he said.

The inquest is due to run all this week, and will also hear from witnesses who have travelled from overseas.

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