Port Macquarie restaurant licensee found not fit to hold liquor licence after drunken episode

Department of Customer Service

A Port Macquarie restaurant licensee was disqualified from holding a liquor licence for five years after he became intoxicated at his venue and was later arrested and charged for driving under the influence of alcohol.

The Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority found Mr Joel Murdoch was not a ‘fit and proper person’ to hold a licence under the Liquor Act 2007.

On 15 July 2017, Mr Murdoch, the then-licensee of Botanic Wine Bar Port Macquarie, was captured via CCTV consuming and supplying alcohol to staff and to four female patrons.

Chair of the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA), Philip Crawford, said each member of the group demonstrated clear signs of intoxication.

“The licensee and his patrons are seen swaying, dropping trays, falling off stools and dancing on furniture,” Mr Crawford said.

“The licensee was observed smoking inside the venue and both the licensee and patrons were drinking each other’s’ drinks.

“When he left the premises, Mr Murdoch drove a vehicle and was subsequently stopped by NSW Police and charged with drink driving after they recorded a high range blood alcohol level.”

In addition to being sentenced to a term of 15 months’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of three months, police issued three penalty notices worth $3,300 to Mr Murdoch in his role as a licensee, for permitting intoxication at a licenced venue, supplying liquor to intoxicated persons and not supplying liquor in accordance with his authority.

While Mr Murdoch relinquished his liquor licence after the charges, he remains an owner of the business.

ILGA decided to ban him from holding a licence for five years and imposed a new licence condition preventing Mr Murdoch and his staff from drinking on the premises.

“The seriousness of his conduct is underscored by a history of convictions for significant alcohol-related driving offences in the years leading up to the incident,” Mr Crawford said.

“Mr Murdoch had already been convicted of drink driving on three other occasions during 2008 to 2012.

“Licensees simply cannot exhibit this behaviour and expect to be considered responsible enough to manage service of alcohol to others.

“The Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority’s decision demonstrates our role in protecting the public through the maintenance of standards laid down in the Act.”

To view the full ILGA report, click here.

/Public Release.