Queenstown booze managers in the dock


Three Queenstown bar managers with previous drink-driving convictions face having their certificates suspended by the Liquor Licensing Authority. 

The Wellington-based LLA sat at Queenstown District Court today to consider whether eight bar and off-licence duty managers’ certificates should be put on hold. 

One company – Waka Holdings Ltd – could also lose its licence for a period. 

Botswana Butchery front-of-house manager Jess Neame faces a one-month suspension following a drink-driving conviction. 

The 24-year-old was caught driving on May 3 with 128 micrograms of alcohol per litre blood – the legal limit is 80 micrograms – after having a few drinks at the end of her shift. 

“Firstly I’d like to say I regret what I did and secondly I’d like to say I have worked hard to be in my position in my work as restaurant manager. Before this incident I always maintained a high level of host responsibility,” she told the court today. 

“I have let down my employers…and I do want to over-ride that. I have let down the community and I have let down myself…I’m very, very sorry.” 

Good Group boss Russell Gray says Neame’s an “integral part of our business” and while “disappointed” in her actions, he’s confident it’ll never happen again. 

Gibbston Valley Wines’ Tracy Grigor and Pog Mahones Irish Bar’s Selena Gildea – also with drink-driving convictions – came before the LLA today. 

Daniel Crawford, operations manager and duty manager for Wakatipu Tavern and the Ministry of Sports, could also have his certificate suspended for a period. 

Police found he let three staff members and their friends drink at the Wakatipu Tavern two hours after the bar’s legal closing time on August 27. 

Cops were called after Crawford accidentally activated the panic button alarm while switching off speakers. 

An experienced bar manager, Crawford says he maintains a good relationship with police and never had any previous problems under his watch – but accepts full responsibility. 

Liquor licensing officer sergeant Keith Newell argues that licence holder Waka Holdings Ltd is “vicariously responsible” for this incident and should therefore have its licence suspended. 

An application to suspend Betty’s Liquor duty manager Allan Mitchell’s certificate – over an assault in which Mitchell received police diversion – was refused. Three other Queenstown duty managers facing suspension left Queenstown before the scheduled hearing. 

Judge John Hole has reserved his decisions.