Hawke's Bay party organisation slammed by police for planning illegal event

Underage Hawke's Bay teens were told they would be able to legally drink at a planned Napier event if they had written ...

Underage Hawke's Bay teens were told they would be able to legally drink at a planned Napier event if they had written permission from their parents.

Underage teens who bought tickets to an "illegal" BYO function in Hawke's Bay were told a note from their parents would make the event legitimate.

Police say a young Hastings man who organised the function hid his identity by selling tickets through high school student "agents".

He now claims the function, planned for October 29 at an unidentified "licensed premise" in Napier, has been cancelled, but police are unsure whether he has refunded about $2000 to those who bought tickets.

Eastern district alcohol harm prevention officer Sergeant Ray Wylie said if it went ahead, the event would be illegal and would put young people at risk.

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But that was rejected by one of the organisers, who said: "We have not in any way held any illegal events or have planned to host anything illegal, present or future."

Wylie said the event had similarities to an out-of-control party in Napier last year organised by Thomas MacDonald, then aged 20. MacDonald was charged following the event but escaped conviction.

"At previous events of this type, we have seen young teenagers dangerously intoxicated to the point where they are unable to look after themselves," Wylie said.

"The organiser appears to be confusing his audience around the legalities of this event by including a reference to permission slips from parents. Permission slips do not save you from the $200 instant fine for being an unaccompanied minor consuming or possessing alcohol in a public place."

While the Hastings man had taken responsibility, police had not ruled out others being involved in organising the event, which was promoted through a "slick" Facebook page that made it look legitimate and would have appealed to young people, Wylie said.

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He had spoken to about nine high school students who had been acting as "ticketing agents" for what they were led to believe was a legitimate event.  The students were upset to learn they had been drawn into what was actually an illegal function, he said.

Wylie said the organiser told him on Wednesday he had cancelled the event and refunded all those who had bought tickets "but whether he has actually done that, I don't know".

If it went ahead the man would face charges, Wylie said.

"Commercially run events of this type where there is a charge for entry and where BYO is allowed are unlawful," he said.

"It would be highly disappointing to think that parents would knowingly allow their child to head off from home to an event like this involving alcohol. We work hard to prevent harm to young people every day and will do everything we can to prevent them getting into an unsafe situation due to alcohol."

 - Stuff

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