AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd gets home detention for threatening to kill

Former AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd awaiting sentencing at the District Court in Tauranga.
Former AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd awaiting sentencing at the District Court in Tauranga.PHOTO: AFP

TAURANGA, NEW ZEALAND (AFP) - AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd on Thursday avoided prison for drug possession and threatening to kill a former employee, but a New Zealand judge warned him failure to kick a narcotics habit would result in jail time.

Rudd, 61, was sentenced in Tauranga District Court to eight months home detention after pleading guilty to the charges in April.

He had faced a maximum of seven years in prison for threatening to kill a former employee, with prosecutors arguing for an 18-month term and the defence pleading for a discharge without conviction.

Judge Thomas Ingram said Rudd's limited criminal history meant home detention was appropriate, saying he would be closely monitored and imprisoned if drugs were found in his system.

"I stone cold guarantee that's where you'll end up," Ingram said.

Motoring enthusiast Rudd arrived in a chauffeur-driven Bentley at court, where a group of family and friends supported him.

Dressed in a purple velour dinner jacket and jeans, he said little to the waiting media as he entered the courthouse beyond thanking fans for their "fantastic" support.

After being sentenced, he swore at a reporter outside the court and told him to "get a f****** job".

Rudd's own employment is in doubt, despite his stated intention to rejoin legendary hard rockers AC/DC.

The band have replaced him with Briton Chris Slade on their current Rock Or Bust world tour and Rudd's conviction will create difficulty in travelling internationally, even when his home detention is over.

He was arrested in November at his waterfront mansion in the North Island coastal town of Tauranga. Court documents revealed that he was accused of threatening to kill a former employee.

He was allegedly upset about the poor organisation of a function to launch his solo album Head Job in August, calling an associate four weeks later to say he wanted the ex-employee "taken out", then phoning the man and threatening his life.

He allegedly offered the associate NZ$200,000 (S$182,000), "a motorbike, one of his cars or a house".

When the police raided Rudd's home, they found 0.478g of methamphetamine and 91g of cannabis, the documents said.

Rudd initially faced another charge of "attempting to procure murder", but it was dropped after prosecutors decided there was insufficient evidence.

Rudd first joined AC/DC in 1975 and left in 1983, only to return 11 years later.

He was part of the AC/DC line-up inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003 and won a Grammy for best hard rock performance with the band for War Machine in 2010.