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Port Macquarie licensee prosecuted for intoxicated patrons

Tuesday 14 April 2015       [PDF,148kb]

The licensee of a Port Macquarie nightclub has been convicted and fined after heavily intoxicated patrons were found in the premises.

The Office of Liquor, Gaming & Racing (OLGR) recently prosecuted Maxim Gunsberger, the licensee of the Down Under nightclub, for permitting three intoxicated patrons to remain on the licensed premises and supplying one of them with alcohol.

On 31 August 2014, OLGR inspectors who were conducting a compliance operation with police attended the nightclub.

An intoxicated man was seen staggering from side-to-side towards the nightclub and was allowed in by a security guard. The man had difficulty using an ATM machine in the venue, dropped money while buying drinks, and sometimes had to support himself against a pillar sliding down it several times.

A second intoxicated man was also seen drinking and stumbling on the dance floor, throwing his arms over patrons’ shoulders causing them to stumble, pulling a seat from under a patron, throwing a plastic cup at another patron, knocking drinks off a table, and grabbing another patron in a head-lock.

Other intoxicated patrons were also observed in the venue on the night.

An OLGR investigation resulted in the prosecution of Mr Gunsberger for three offences of permitting intoxication and an additional offence of the licensee supplying alcohol to an intoxicated person. Mr Gunsberger pleaded guilty to all four charges.

On April 8, Magistrate Thomas Hodgson at Port Macquarie Local Court fined Mr Gunsberger $4,000 and also ordered him to pay OLGR’s investigation costs of $2,750.

The nightclub received its first strike on 12 September 2014 after police fined Mr Gunsberger for permitting intoxicated persons at the venue on 16 August 2014. As a result of the Court’s finding, the nightclub is exposed to a potential second strike.

OLGR Director of Compliance and Enforcement Anthony Keon said the case should serve as a warning to all licensees that it is illegal to allow intoxicated persons on licensed premises.

"Not only were there multiple seriously intoxicated patrons in this case but also behaviour that was anti-social and dangerous and had the real potential to spark a violent incident," Mr Keon said.

"Disappointingly, the licensee failed to take appropriate action to monitor the behaviour occurring at his venue despite being on notice for previous intoxication incidents.

"OLGR inspectors will be targeting licensed premises which fail to have adequate controls in place to prevent intoxication and anti-social behaviour."

On 30 June 2015, OLGR imposed a second strike on the venue under the Three Strikes disciplinary scheme after considering the seriousness of the harm that may have resulted from the offence.