Stephen Dudley's father to school: 'You could have done more'

Stephen Dudley (file)
Stephen Dudley (file)

Stephen Dudley's father has delivered a scathing critique of his son's school for its lack of consideration toward the family after Stephen's death.

Fifteen-year-old Stephen collapsed and died after getting bashed after rugby practice in July 2013.

The brothers were both charged with manslaughter, but that was downgraded to assault after an autopsy revealed Stephen had an undiagnosed heart condition.

They were later discharged without conviction and have permanent name suppression.

In a raised voice Brent Dudley said the school, which has name suppression, could have communicated better.

"We lost our son while he was in your care. You could have done more. Can you see the impact on our family?" he said at the inquest into Stephen's death on Wednesday morning.

Mr Dudley, who was invited by the coroner to make additional comments at the end of his evidence, struggled to contain his anger.

"You didn't come up to bloody standard, as far as I am concerned."

Earlier, Mr Dudley said he felt the family had been kept in the dark. He claims the police told him there were between seven and 11 video recordings made on the day, but later said they had either been deleted or didn't show much.

Mr Dudley said his son was athletic, ate well, and looked after himself. After his death it was discovered that Stephen had an undiagnosed heart condition, but Mr Dudley said his son was heavily involved in sport and couldn't have done all he did if he was sick.

Mr Dudley said his son regularly suffered headaches and was sluggish getting of bed, but he put that down to late nights studying.

He had to pause several times during his evidence to gather himself.

Before his son's death the family was "humming" because they had healthy, happy children and two wages coming in. 

He said he had heard that Stephen's school had a fighting culture, but accepted the school tried to prevent it.

The principal of the school, who can't be named, apologised to the family. 

He said he'd believed the school's relationship with the family was "really positive", in contrast to Mr Dudley's comments. 

The principal of the school, who can't be named, apologised to the family.

He'd believed the school's relationship with the family was "really positive", in contrast to Mr Dudley's comments.

Stephen's mother says her son's school "blanked" the family after his death.

An emotional Mona Dudley struggled through her evidence at the coroner's inquest, a support person crouched at her side handing her tissues throughout.

Ms Dudley said when the manslaughter charges were dropped she "felt Iike we had been ambushed".

She said she had read all the information ever given to her to try and understand why her son was dead.

She agreed with Stephen's father that her son did suffer from headaches, but "he was doing studies a lot... he was in front of the computer".

After her son's death the family were tested for heart problems, and all were found to be healthy and normal.

The older of the two brothers who hit Stephen forcefully in the neck says Stephen did not fight back at any point.

He said he did not remember punching the 15-year-old after the first blow.

A number of other witnesses have said both brothers punched Stephen multiple times after the initial punch to his neck. The 20-year-old, who cried during his evidence, said he had a complete memory blank about that, but did remember Stephen going down.

He said, as he left the rugby field, he yelled out, "Is there anyone else?"

Under cross examination he conceded that was a challenge to the others there. 

The witness said later that night, as he started to hear what happened to Stephen, he was crying in his room, scared.

"I was a coward."

 He said he didn't know how hard he'd punched Stephen, and was aiming for his jaw -- not his neck -- and he would apologise directly to the Dudleys if he had the chance, but realised Stephen's parents needed to deal with things in their own way.

"I do pray for them. I do pray for their forgiveness."

He said at the time, he just wanted to protect his little brother.