Bar owner disputes police interpretations

Branson's Hotel. Photo ODT files
Branson's Hotel. Photo ODT files
An under-fire Dunedin bar owner says it is not his fault if patrons want to abuse police after having a few drinks.

Branson's Hotel licence holder Les Scott yesterday fought against a suspension of the licence for his St Andrew St bar at a Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority hearing.

The hearing related to two separate nights last year when police say they were verbally abused by drunk patrons.

Mr Scott denies any drunk patrons were served on either night and said the police who came in on one of the nights had no sense of humour.

Alcohol harm prevention officer Sergeant Ian Paulin said police went to the hotel on the night of the All Blacks v Wales test match and later in the year during a private 21st birthday party.

Sgt Paulin said on both nights police encountered abuse from intoxicated patrons and at the 21st birthday party he feared things were about to turn ''ugly'' as he and another officer took an underage patron away.

Police are seeking a 48-hour suspension of Mr Scott's licence over the incidents, which have been taken into account in a Dunedin City Council district licensing committee (DLC) decision to grant a licence renewal for a year rather than the three years Mr Scott was seeking.

Police are also seeking the suspension or cancellation of Simon Deason's manager's certificate as he was working on both of the nights.

Sgt Paulin said on both nights bar staff did not properly intervene to stop patrons from acting in a disorderly manner, and swearing and acting aggressively towards police.

On the second night, a 17-year-old, who was charged with giving false information to police, said he was ''too pissed'' to remember his middle name.

Sgt Paulin also believed Mr Scott attempted to divert police attention away from a man subject to an arrest warrant in an attempt to protect him.

Acting Sergeant Chris Lemon said when he went to the hotel later in the night patrons were again aggressive and made pig noises towards police.

Mr Scott began the hearing by saying he was ''ready to fight the battle'' and went on to say the under-age patron who was taken away from the 21st had jumped a fence into the bar's smoking area and had not been served.

On both nights patrons were behaving well until police arrived and it was not his fault if some people had an ''aversion to authority'' and liked to abuse police after a few drinks.

He also disputed that people were intoxicated at the bar on both nights, apart from a man with a warrant out for his arrest, who tried to trip a police officer on the night of the rugby test.

He contended the man arrived drunk and likely on drugs only minutes before police arrived and they were doing their best to look after him so he did not cause disorder on the streets.

He was not served alcohol.

''It is my opinion that we were doing everything right.''

A man who threw a soft toy at Sgt Paulin was ''just trying to be funny''.

Judge Kelly said the authority would take into account the DLC decision when deciding whether to suspend the licence, as he did not want to ''double penalise'' Mr Scott.

The decision was reserved.


Do the police seek suspensions of supermarket licences when they are verbally abused by someone who has been drinking alcohol brought from them ? How about some equality in enforcement and licensing conditions. The bar owner is hammered left right and centre from restrictive hours to min prices being forced on the by councils (yes I know it's illegal price fixing but it happens they are just careful how they word it) , host responsibility laws, to being persecuted by police for something someone does after they leave. Even small off licenses are forced to ahere to conditions their big brother supermarket does not. All this while supermarkets basically get a free run. This is not a level playing field despite the fact that the police , justice and health figures show that preloading is by far the biggest issue . What is happening is a return to the pre-mid 90's where we have issues with people drinking in public places , out of control house and street parties and bored drunk people roaming the streets unable to get in anywhere. This all happened before and was the prime motivation to get people into supervised premises. People have very short memories. Still the bars get the blame