Sin bin for Sevens after drunken antics

PAUL EASTON
Last updated 05:00 10/02/2014
sevens police
MATT DUNCAN

END OF THE ROAD: Two fans argue with police after the one pointing her finger was told to leave the stadium.

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The party could be over for Wellington Sevens fans, with police casting a baleful eye at organisers after another alcohol-soaked event and warning that tougher action could follow.

A torrid Friday night had police publicly slamming the sevens organisers, after 160 people were ejected from Westpac Stadium while another 110 were kicked out on Saturday. Last year only 47 in total were ejected.

Inspector John Spence said that although Saturday had been an improvement on the previous day, police were still concerned at the levels of drunkenness.

"Too many people were intoxicated at the stadium.

"The Wellington police alcohol harm prevention unit will be collating the evidence gained during the two days and will decide if further action is required," Spence said.

It was possible the event could be referred to the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority, which had the power to suspend or cancel licences, Spence said.

Police were also investigating an allegation of sexual assault on Friday. There were also reports and complaints of fans being extremely intoxicated as early as 5.30am on Friday, and of some urinating in public.

Wellington Sevens general manager Marty Donoghue said he was "disappointed" with police for criticising the event, the first under the new Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act.

Specially trained police officers patrolled the sevens for the first time and a wristband system for buying alcohol was tightened up after a "breakdown" led to ineligible people buying alcohol on Friday, he said.

"All parties worked together to ensure we achieved what we had set out to do."

Still, criticism of the behaviour of intoxicated fans came thick and fast. Working Style director Rex Massey-Molloy said he was disgusted with people urinating in central Wellington.

"You could smell the urine.

"It was pretty messy."

The area was littered with broken bottles and a bystander was injured after being hoisted in the air by a group of fans dressed as firemen, he said.

"It was supposed to be good natured but it was as dumb as a sackful of spanners. I'm not opposed to the sevens but they do need to look at what's going on."

Dominic Kelly, managing director of Wellington bar Hashigo Zake, said it had a limited opening on Friday and a ticket-only event on Saturday after staff endured "feral behaviour" last year.

And the criticism even came from a sevens' fan who pocketed $10,000 for the best costume.

Auckland engineer Steve Skidmore said he was never coming back despite his huge windfall.

"This place is an absolute zoo.

"I mean, there are guys [exposing themselves] . . . the behaviour has changed.

"They have to have a good look at what's going on here."

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said that while the general mood was good "we do need to clamp down on those people that abuse alcohol".

A new 4am closing time for bars had helped Wellington City Council staff clean up, she said.

Wellington Free Ambulance spokesman Daniel Paul said it was a relatively tame year.

Paramedics and volunteers had treated 85 people at the stadium - mainly for intoxication or cuts and scrapes. "It was very quiet compared to previous years, and we put that down to the increased alcohol regulations - they certainly have helped; we were quite comfortable," Paul said.

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- The Dominion Post

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