Licensee admits making mistake at liquor hearing

MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 05:00 02/01/2014

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Hawke's Bay

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A liquor store owner granted a licence after telling the liquor licensing authority he intended to dedicate 70 per cent of his shop's floor space to ready-to-drink premixed spirits (RTDs) says he made a mistake at the hearing.

The Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority granted Blackbull Liquor a licence in June to run a bottle store in Karamu Rd, Hastings, an area regarded by police as a "hot spot" that generates more alcohol-fuelled incidents than elsewhere in the city.

During cross-examination at a hearing before the authority in April, Blackbull owner Harinder Mann said he would dedicate 70 per cent of the shop's floor space to RTD liquor.

Residents appealed against the decision to the High Court. The appeal is to be heard next month.

Mr Mann applied to the court to provide an affidavit stating he had made a mistake in the hearing, and that he had meant to say 70 per cent of the store's RTD liquor would be supplied by Independent Liquor, as required under an agreement with the company.

In a judgment made last month, Justice Stephen Kos dismissed the application. He did not accept Mr Mann's claim that the affidavit was "updating evidence". If Mr Mann was aware he had made a mistake at the hearing, "the proper course for the respondent to have taken was to have advised the authority of the error as soon as it became aware that it had been made".

He said Mr Mann had prepared and sworn the affidavit in May and had intended to give it to the authority, but had decided there was no need after the authority granted his company's application for a different store.

"The result is that the alleged error now finds itself imprinted on the face of the authority's decision. Despite that attitude, the respondent now expects this court to receive the very evidence it chose not to provide the authority," Justice Kos said.

He gave appellants and respondents until later this month to file submissions.

A spokesman for the objectors, Adrian Pritchard, welcomed the judgment but said the group's more substantive objections remained the same.

Among these was their concern that Mr Mann's stores had a poor record of selling alcohol to minors. He was caught selling alcohol to a young person at one of his stores in 2007, and one of his companies was caught again in 2011.

The authority agreed Mr Mann's record was "not as good as the authority would like" but he did meet the suitability threshold.

Mr Pritchard said yesterday: "Another liquor store in an area like this, targeting the young and poor, is the last thing we need. We'll be fighting this all the way."

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Mr Mann could not be reached.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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