Search uncovers bootleg liquor operation

Friday 23 December 2011, 1:56PM
By New Zealand Police


A Westport man is in custody following the discovery of a large amount of home distilled spirits at his home on Thursday 22 December 2011.

Westport Police executed a search warrant on the house yesterday following a controlled purchase operation the previous day in which a person visited the house and was sold a 1000ml bottle of Whisky.

A 49 year old Westport man has been charged with 'Unlicensed Person Selling Liquor'. He was released on bail to appear in the Westport District Court on 2 February 2012, but has subsequently been arrested again for misuse of a telephone.

Police recovered a substantial quantity of home distilled spirits at the address, including about 47litres of prepared spirits and a further 75 litres being processed. Also seized was a large amount of equipment including 50 empty spirit bottles.

This operation and the recent Controlled Purchase Operation at licensed premises follow on from a number of incidents where people, and particularly young people, have put themselves and others at risk following the excessive consumption of alcohol.

Westport Youth Aid Officer Senior Constable Don Abbey Police were conducting an investigation in illegal manufacture of alcohol as a result of recent serious events.

"The most serious incident we've had related to a heavily intoxicated 16 year old boy being killed on the highway towards Carters Beach after being hit by a car. We know that boy and his friends had purchased their alcohol from this address."

The second recent serious incident involved another 16 year old boy being flown to Greymouth Base Hospital by the Rescue Helicopter in a serious condition after consuming home distilled spirits. Police are yet to confirm the orgin of that liquor.

Alcohol Harm Reduction Officer Sergeant Sean Judd said: "The community is well aware of the harm caused to young people having uncontrolled access to alcohol and it is disturbing to know there are those willing to supply them for the sake of making a quick buck.

"We all know the issues, we know the damage caused and the social costs associated with this type of offending. If you have any information regarding the unlawful sale or supply of alcohol in our communities then Police want to hear about it."

Police are keen to see people enjoying themselves over the festive season and the sensible consumption of alcohol is part of that. However Police intend to take action in those circumstances where the consumption becomes excessive and causes anti-social or dangerous behavior.