Drug convictions could cost business

A family business in Wanaka faces an uncertain future after the Alcohol and Regulatory Licensing Authority (ARLA) yesterday ruled the owners had four months to either lease the bar area or sell the business after drugs were found on the premises.

At an ARLA hearing in Queenstown, Judge John Hole said in adjourning the matter he hoped Hondy's Investments Ltd (HIL) sole director and shareholder Judith Hondelink - who had invested her life savings into the business - would be able to ''salvage something from the wreckage''.

Failure to sell either the lease to the Wanaka bar or the entire business would result in the cancellation of HIL's on-licence and the general manager's certificate held by Mrs Hondelink.

Yesterday, Liquor Licensing sergeant Linda Stevens sought the suspension or cancellation of Corey Hondelink's general manager's certificate and the suspension or cancellation of the on-licence of HIL, which operates Hondy's take-away, restaurant/cafe and bar in the Wanaka commercial area.

Sgt Stevens said HIL was issued a new on-licence on October 18 last year. Less than a month later ''a significant amount of drugs and drug paraphernalia was located'' after a search warrant was executed at the premises.

In January, second-hand goods were found being sold from the premises; HIL did not hold a licence to do so.

Sgt Stevens said Corey Hondelink, Mrs Hondelink's son, had a ''$1000-a-month drug habit'', used drugs intravenously and smoked ''a substantial amount of cannabis''.

In December, he was convicted and fined $875 for possession of class C-controlled cannabis and a needle at Wanaka on November 12.

In a letter to the authority, Mr Hondelink said he knew what he did was ''totally unacceptable''.

He had been living in Akaroa managing McGregor's Akaroa Bakery when it was gutted by fire in January last year. He became ''stressed and depressed'' and ''slipped back into the drug scene''.

He was taking steps to address his addiction. Mr Hondelink said he had ''severely disappointed'' his family.

About three weeks ago, lawyers were instructed to remove him as a director of the company and transfer his shares to his mother.

Mrs Hondelink said she and her husband had invested their life savings into the business, matched by their son, at a time when her husband was facing redundancy, the business she was working for was closing down and ''Corey came home''.

''We thought it would be nice to have a family thing going on.''

Mrs Hondelink said she had no idea her son was using drugs, or using them on the premises.

She and her husband were ''gutted''.

However, following his conviction, Corey Hondelink - primarily employed as the chef - continued to work in the bar and had only ceased in recent weeks.

When asked by Judge Hole why it had taken so long to remove Mr Hondelink from the company, his mother replied ''it was a hard decision to make''.

Judge Hole countered: ''It's the only decision to make, isn't it?'

'''It's hard when it's your family,'' she said.

''I just want to help him, that's all I want to do.''

Judge Hole also questioned Mrs Hondelink's knowledge of the Sale and Supply of Liquor Act given her son's continued work behind the bar, despite his conviction.

She said she had no other option, as no-one else held a general manager's certificate.

In recent weeks, Hondy's bar had only been open from Thursday to Saturday nights, and was run by Mrs Hondelink.

Judge Hole ruled the application for suspension of the on-licence be adjourned for four months, enabling Mrs Hondelink to either restructure the business and lease the bar area or sell the entire business.

Mr Hondelink could remain in employment as the chef, but was not to enter the bar area during opening hours.

''This is a total disaster for you and we're very aware of it,'' Judge Hole told Mrs Hondelink.

''The problem we face ... [is] you lack the experience to know what you're doing in terms of running a business like this.

''It's not a case ... of just a suspension of the licence ... you need to get out of this business ... and get as much as you can ... at least try and salvage something.

''It's not nice, but the alternative is worse.''