Authority reserves decision on 'drink den'

KAY BLUNDELL
Last updated 05:00 08/11/2012

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Police have labelled Paraparaumu's late-night Retro Bar a "drinking den" and one of the worst bars in the Wellington district.

They are applying for the cancellation or suspension of the licence of MSP Trading, known as Retro Bar & Amigos Mexican Restaurant, or to have its hours reduced.

The application follows the deaths of two young men who were attacked in car parks around the bar, at Kapiti Lights. Izak Millanta, 17, died in August, and Sean Strongman-Lintern, 20, in September.

Police are also calling for the suspension of staff member David Aitken's general manager's certificate and opposing the renewal of owner Mark Spiekerman's general manager's certificate.

At a Liquor Licensing Authority hearing this week, 17 police witnesses described drunkenness and disorder in and around the bar, patrons pulling a knife on an officer, and two people having an altercation at the bar and later firing a .303 nearby.

Mr Spiekerman and his staff have defended themselves, disagreeing with police reports of extreme intoxication. Mr Spiekerman suggested bringing forward the bar's closing time from 3am to 2am.

The authority has reserved its decision.

Regional Public Health also opposed the renewal of the bar's licence, saying there was not enough food easily available at night for intoxicated patrons.

Mr Spiekerman's daughter, Amy, who works part-time at the bar, said that on busy nights, it might serve only 5 or 6 bowls of chips. Police reported crowds of 150 to 200 in the bar some nights.

Liquor licensing inspector Gay Ball said management did not have enough experience.

After one late-night visit, Sergeant Stu Lawrie said: "I have not seen so many drunken people in one bar in years."

Sergeant Andrzej Kowalczyk described the bar as a "drinking den" and one of the worst in the Wellington district.

Police said the offender charged with Mr Millanta's death had been drinking at the bar before Mr Millanta was beaten.

Mr Aitken admitted there were some issues related to the bar, and he expected his certificate would be suspended.

Mr Spiekerman said he believed he was a responsible host, who had a strict ID policy. He had introduced a dress code, a late-night one-way door policy, and put up temporary fencing around the door, as suggested by police.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Al Lawn said the Liquor Licensing Authority had suspended the bar's licence for two days in February last year, and Mr Spiekerman should have taken that as "a shot across the bow".

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- The Dominion Post

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