A Westport man who sold whiskey to a Buller High School
student prior to the teenager's death has been sentenced to
two months in prison.
Andrew Perkins, 50, pleaded guilty in June to two charges of
being an unlicensed person selling liquor and was sentenced
in Westport District Court yesterday.
At 3am on October 7 last year three 16-year-olds went to
Perkins' Westport house to purchase alcohol. They hadn't been
drinking prior to that, Judge Alistair Garland told the
Perkins gave the youths a choice of bourbon or whiskey. They
bought whiskey from him for $20 and consumed it before
walking home intoxicated.
As 16-year-old Thomas Elworthy walked towards Carters Beach
on SH67 he strayed into the path of an oncoming car and was
struck and killed. His blood alcohol level was later found to
be 133mg per 100ml.
On December 21 last year police undertook a controlled
purchase operation where an 18-year-old volunteer bought a
bottle of whiskey from Perkins.
He was allowed to pay $20 for the $22 bottle as he only had
two $20 notes. Mr Perkins told him to return the bottle and
cap and that the next one would cost $24.
On December 22 police executed a search warrant at Perkins'
house and seized alcohol and equipment used to make it.
At the time Perkins had no clear explanation for why he had
so much alcohol on the premises, other than saying he drank a
lot of it. He refused to answer questions about selling the
alcohol to the youths.
His lawyer, Eymard Bradley, showed Judge Garland information
from ACC, which showed Perkins had suffered extensive head
injuries on three occasions.
Mr Bradley added that a marked change in personality had
resulted from the accidents. Perkins had begun brewing
alcohol for his own purposes then begun to sell the surplus.
Mr Bradley asked for a non-custodial sentence.
Judge Garland said a pre-sentence report showed Perkins had
accepted responsibility for both charges. He'd sold the
alcohol to the youths because he believed them when they said
they were of age.
Perkins claimed to be remorseful for the death, but he said
he hadn't killed the youth; the youth had done it to himself
by consuming the alcohol.
The report said Perkins didn't want to pay reparation for the
alcohol analysis. He'd also declined home or community
detention. He was unable to do community work as a result of
an accident in 1984.
The report described Perkins' risk of re-offending as high
and recommended a short term of imprisonment.
Judge Garland said all of Perkins' major convictions were
influenced by alcohol and this one was no different.
The purpose of the sentencing was to hold Perkins responsible
for the harm he had done.
Perkins responded: "Put me in jail now, I can't listen to
Judge Garland said the situation was serious, Perkins had
sold alcohol to three 16-year-olds and it wasn't just any
alcohol but 41 per cent by volume.
The three youths became intoxicated and one wandered into the
path of a car and died.
While Perkins couldn't be held directly responsible for that
death, it was fair to say his conduct in selling the alcohol
to the teens was a contributing factor.
At best Perkins' actions had been grossly negligent, the
In mitigation there were a number of reports in relation to
medical conditions resulting from three brain injuries
Perkins had suffered.
The starting point for a sentence would be three months'
imprisonment, Judge Garland said. He reduced that by one
month on account of Perkins' guilty plea and medical
He sentenced Perkins to two months' imprisonment, to be
served concurrently, on each charge.
Given his mental health difficulties Perkins could apply for
home detention if a suitable residence could be found.
He was also ordered to pay $180 reparation to police for
Perkins left saying he was being imprisoned for "not being
allowed a job in this banana republic".
- The Westport News