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AC/DC drummer ‘led playboy lifestyle’

A charge against AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd of trying to hire a hitman to kill two people may have been dropped, but this hasn’t stopped details emerging of his playboy lifestyle in a sleepy New Zealand town.

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Rudd was arrested when police raided his North Island mansion early on Thursday and charged him with trying to hire a hitman to carry out a double murder, threatening to kill and possessing illegal drugs.

The charge against Rudd has been dropped by the crown solicitor.

A spokeswoman for lawyers Greg Hollister-Jones said on Friday the charge was withdrawn due to insufficient evidence.

The drummer’s lawyer, Paul Mabey QC, said the charge alleging the 60-year-old attempted to procure murder should never have been laid.

“Questions arise as to the degree of care taken by those responsible for arresting and charging him with attempting to procure murder,” he said in a statement.

Rudd still faces a charge of threatening to kill, which Mabey said he would defend, as well as cannabis and methamphetamine possession charges, which the barrister described as “minor”.

No comment was immediately available from New Zealand police.

Rudd has been with the AC/DC on and off since 1975 and moved to New Zealand in 1983, settling in Tauranga, a coastal community of about 110,000 people southeast of Auckland.

Its sunny climate has made it popular with retirees. Rudd opened a restaurant, Phil’s Place, at the marina. He has also helped raise money for charities by offering rides in his fleet of luxury cars, including a Ferrari, Lamborghini and Bentley.

But locals have told New Zealand media about a seedy underbelly that Rudd was allegedly involved in.

The man who Rudd had been accused of trying to enlist as a hitman told Fairfax New Zealand the veteran rocker had recently been involved in disputes over payments to “working girls”.

“The girls that he gets, working girls and that, their partners get pissed off,” said the man, whose name has been suppressed by a judge.

“He tells them, ‘Nah, I’m not paying you’ and the partners come and say they want their money.”

AC/DC have sold an estimated 200 million records, making Rudd a millionaire many times over, and the man said the drummer had spent a lot of money in the community.

“The amount he spends on company is like someone’s yearly wage … he’s like the Hugh Hefner of Tauranga,” he said, referring to the Playboy magazine founder and well-known bon viveur.

The same man told the Bay of Plenty Times that Rudd was generous and they often went on trips in the rock star’s sports cars or his private helicopter.

But he said Rudd had become irritable in recent weeks and alienated some of those closest to him.

“He’s burning the ones who care about him … you’ve got to feel sorry for him, just the expectations everyone has of him,” he said.

“He’s a good fella. He’s got a big heart.”

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