The drummer of the rock band AC/DC has surprised a New Zealand court by pleading guilty to charges of drug possession and issuing death threats. Phil Rudd had previously denied the charges against him.
Appearing in front of a judge at the Tauranga District Court on Tuesday, the 60-year-old Rudd pleaded guilty to charges of threatening to kill and possession of methamphetamine and marijuana.
As a result, Judge Robert Wolff adjourned the hearing just minutes later and re-released Rudd on bail until a sentencing hearing scheduled for June 26.
If convicted of issuing death threats, Rudd could face up to seven years in prison. However, his defense lawyer, Craig Tuck, said his client would seek to take advantage of a loophole in New Zealand law which allows a judge to grant him a discharge without conviction.
Court documents show that Rudd stands accused of using a telephone conversation last September tothreaten a contractor who had been working for him for three years, as well as the contractor's daughter. They also show that police found 0.71 grams of methamphetamine and 130 grams of cannabis when they searched his waterfront mansion in the North Island coastal town of Tauranga in November.
Rudd had initially also faced the additional charge of "attempting to procure murder," but this was withdrawn after prosecutors determined that they did not have enough evidence to make it stick.
The Australian-born Rudd has lived in New Zealand since 1983.
pfd/cmk (AFP, AP, dpa)