Never again - granddad

Maurice Didham
Maurice Didham
A Dunedin grandfather convicted of supplying alcohol to two minors says he would never buy alcohol for anyone again.

Maurice David Didham (75) was found guilty in the Dunedin District Court yesterday on two charges of supplying alcohol to minors - a 16-year-old girl (his granddaughter) and a 15-year-old boy.

Didham bought two 1-litre bottles of Kristov lemon vodka (13.9% alcohol by volume) from a South Dunedin liquor store, on the afternoon of May 17.

The teens were later dropped off at a party in Corstorphine, but after that was shut down he took them to a student party in Castle St, where the boy later passed out in front of the property.

''I remember being woken up and put in an ambulance,'' the boy told the court.

He was taken to Dunedin Hospital and treated for alcohol poisoning, prompting his parents to lay a complaint with police.

Didham, who represented himself at the defended hearing, said the girl had asked that afternoon for two bottles of vodka, and he knew she was going to take the alcohol to a party ''but that's all''.

He did not know what she was going to do with the alcohol and did not know of her having any arrangement about alcohol with the boy.

The girl went to parties to hang out with friends, ''not get drunk or anything'', Didham said.

''That's why we don't mind her taking a small amount of alcohol ...

''She doesn't drink much. We never have to worry about her.''

The alcohol was ''only lightweight'', Didham said.

He was sure the girl could drink a bottle on her own without being too affected.

But she would share it with her friends, he said.

As on previous occasions, he had the mother's permission to buy the alcohol, Didham said.

He did not buy alcohol for the boy or supply it to him.

''I bought it for her because I know she likes to have a drink with a friend.

''There has never been a problem before. I don't think I should have been charged. I had permission.''

Prosecutor Sergeant Graeme Evans said Didham accepted he supplied alcohol to the girl, but believed he had the express consent of a parent or guardian (her mother).

Justices of the peace Ashley Broad and Stephen Beeby said they were in ''no doubt'' Didham had not supplied the alcohol in a responsible manner.

And he did not have the express consent of a parent or guardian of the boy.

Finding him ''guilty on both charges'', the JPs imposed convictions and, on each charge, fined him $450, with court costs $130.

Outside court, Didham told the Otago Daily Times he was a responsible person, but ''you just can't control teenagers''.

He maintained he was ''stitched up'' by police, reiterating ''I never gave alcohol to that kid [the boy]''.

''I gave it to [my granddaughter], but I didn't give it to the other kid.''

Asked if he would buy alcohol for his granddaughter again, he replied ''no''.

''She won't be getting alcohol from me.''

Asked if he had any message for adults who supplied alcohol to minors, he replied, ''If they want their kids to drink, they are going to have to do so at home''.

''I think I wouldn't supply alcohol to anyone, even someone of age, because they are liable to fall over and you are liable to cop the blame.

''Nobody, in hindsight, should be giving alcohol to people at all.''

In 2011, Didham pleaded guilty to cultivating cannabis seedlings in his bathroom, and told the ODT he would never ''ever'' plead guilty again.

Dunedin alcohol harm prevention officer Sergeant Ian Paulin said the case ''should serve as a wake-up call for people who purchase alcohol for minors without the express consent of the minor's parents''.

''Police view this as absolutely unacceptable behaviour.''

Southern District Health Board medical officer of health Dr Keith Reid said the ''result of this case shows that mixing young people and alcohol is a recipe for an unhappy ending''.

''We are pleased that the court has sent a clear message that supplying alcohol to young people places those children at a high risk of harm and is not to be tolerated.

''This case emphasises that alcohol should only be supplied to children by their parents and in a responsible manner.''




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