Stephen Dudley's parents not ready to forgive

Stephen Dudley's parents not ready to forgive

Stephen Dudley's parents say they're not ready to forgive the brothers who beat their son and believe the evidence against them should have been put before a jury.

The 15-year-old died after a fight following rugby practice in 2013.

The two teenagers who assaulted him were discharged without conviction, after Stephen was found to have an undiagnosed heart condition.

For Stephen parents it's been a fleeting return to Auckland for his inquest. It was just too painful to stay after his death.

"There was too many hurts and on a daily basis seeing the boys walk past, too many reminders, in the same uniforms -- that sort of thing was just too much," say parents Brent and Mona Dudley.

For the first time they heard evidence from the two who repeatedly beat their son.

"Of course there are mixed emotions. I am angry; I am frightened; I am scared; I am nervous."

The brothers, whom we can't name, apologised to the Dudleys -- one saying he prayed every day for their forgiveness. But that's something Stephen's parents can't offer yet.  .

"Will live and I will accept my son is not here, but I don't think I can give that, especially not at this stage.

"It's all very easy to sit up there on the stand after the fact and to blubber."

The brothers didn't go to trial. Manslaughter charges were downgraded to assault when Stephen was found to have a heart condition. They were discharged without conviction.

Three years on, the inquest is the first public hearing of the evidence.

"Why did it take so long to have this transparency?" says Stephen's parents. "This information we believe should have gone to a jury and have them decide, and we could have done that a long, long time ago."

The Dudleys' experience has left them with strong views on the justice system. They're opposed to any moves to raise the Youth Court age from 17 up to 18 years old.

"I think a lot of the youth now are aware of what they are protected by and the laws that protect them, and they use that to their advantage."

As for  holding their family together, the move to the Far North is helping.

"Every day is a challenge, as anyone who has been through this will testify, but we are getting there."

Meanwhile the coroner has reserved his decision on the cause of Stephen's death.