Heffs Hotel in South Dunedin. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
At least seven incidents of extreme intoxication and
violence at Heffs Hotel, including a gang brawl, are being
considered by the Liquor Licensing Authority in a bid by police
to have the South Dunedin pub closed.
Police applications to have the hotel's on-licence cancelled
and general manager certificates suspended were heard by the
authority, Judge John Hole and David Major, in the Dunedin
District Court yesterday.
Dunedin police alcohol harm reduction officer Sergeant Ian
Paulin said despite several meetings with Heffs staff in the
last year, little had changed and the pub continued to
Six police officers, including Sgt Paulin, gave evidence
yesterday about seven incidents at Heffs since April relating
to violence as well as intoxicated and aggressive patrons.
The testimony of a seventh police officer about a Heffs
patron being processed for drink-driving was also presented,
and mention was made of uncertified security staff and
patrons so drunk they fell asleep in the bar.
The worst incident, on April 17, was a gang-related brawl at
the hotel during the wake of a former Mongrel Mob Notorious
Sergeant David Scott said he was called to Heffs about
midnight and found more than 50 people fighting in the car
Gang members and associates had a ''Mexican stand-off'' with
opponents from a Dunedin family for about 40 minutes before
they dissipated, he said.
Heffs operating manager Stephen Clark was questioned by Sgt
Paulin about whether it was appropriate for the wake of an
ex-gang member - involving existing gang members - to be held
at the pub.
Sgt Paulin also asked why Mr Clark had not employed security
personnel for the wake and why he chose to drink during the
function, leaving his 73-year-old mother, Patricia Clark, and
bar manager Jessie Matheson in charge.
Ms Matheson said the brawl started when a patched gang member
entered the bar and was ''thrown out'' by another patron.
Sgt Paulin asked Mr Clark's mother whether the pub had a
policy on gang patches, to which she replied: ''I'm nervous
of dark people for a start, so I wouldn't encourage them.''
Mr Clark said he was initially reluctant to host the wake but
relatives of the deceased promised to keep it under control.
The deceased had been a Heffs patron for most of his life,
had worked at the bar, and his wish for half his ashes to be
scattered around the premises was fulfilled upon his death,
Mr Clark said.
''I couldn't say no. I spoke to the family and says [sic]
there will be no gang patches whatsoever. I says [sic] I
don't want one scrap of trouble,'' Mr Clark said.
As duty manager on the night, Ms Matheson was charged with
breaching the Sale of Liquor Act 1989, to which she pleaded
guilty and was convicted.
Mr Clark said several incidents following the wake were
caused by a male patron, related to the deceased, who became
aggressive towards police because he was ''disgusted'' Ms
Matheson had been charged.
Mr Clark said he told the patron to ''stop his nonsense, pull
his horns in and grow up''.
He said Heffs had always been a rough pub, but since taking
the lease two years ago he and other staff had worked hard to
improve it, and gave ''stern warnings'' to problematic
patrons, cleaning up the hotel ''something wicked''.
Sgt Paulin said Mr Clark promised to reverse the pub's
reputation as a ''Mongrel Mob hangout'' in September last
year but by January, police had dealt with four incidents at
In May, after the gang brawl, Sgt Paulin issued a final
warning and yesterday he said Mr Clark had failed to make any
Other licensed premises in South Dunedin did not cause
problems. It was revealed yesterday Mr Clark did not apply to
be Heffs licensee because of a drink-driving conviction.
His mother was the licensee as sole director of PC Bar Ltd,
of which Mr Clark was the sole shareholder.
Judge Hole said the authority's written decision should be
issued before Christmas. It would also address the
applications by Mr Clark and Ms Matheson for the renewal of
their general manager certificates.