Two-day shutdown for pub that sold to minors
A DISTRICT Court judge last week ordered the closure of a Ballymoney pub for two days, after the owner pleaded guilty to charges of allowing drink to be sold to minors.
Brian Spencer (57) of The Orphan Girl, Ballymoney, said every effort had been made to prevent the sale of alcohol to minors, but pleaded guilty to the charges before the court.
The offences related to St. Stephen's night, 2009. The court heard how Gardai had visited the premises twice on the night in question.
On their second visit, they found three underage people drinking alcohol in the lounge area.
Solicitor David Tarrant pointed out that the defendant had been running the premises for a considerable time, and this was the first incident of underage drinking.
Mr. Spencer took to the stand, and recalled how it was a very busy night, and the weather was starting to turn bad. He explained that a lot of people had arrived in buses, and the car park became slippy.
He said he had spoken to the door staff about underage issues earlier in the evening.
One member of security staff was placed on the door of the lounge, while seven were allocated to the adjoining disco.
The first time the Gardai called, they went into the disco, and didn't find any people who were underage. However, when they returned, they found three underage people drinking in the lounge.
Mr. Spencer explained that they had gotten into the bar while there was no-one on the door. 'I accept this was a failing on my part,' he said, explaining that the staff member had gone to get salt to put on the car park surface.
' They slipped through the net,' said Mr. Tarrant. Brian Spencer said he was very disappointed to find them there. 'I felt we made a huge effort to ensure there were no underage people there,' he said, estimating they had been there maybe ten minutes.
He added that the doorman was unaware they were inside, and the barman would have thought the doorman checked their age.
'I have two sixteen year old boys and I would be very aware of this big problem for society in general, and I definitely wouldn't be permitting underage drinking,' said Mr. Spencer. ' So many things happened that night, I found my head spinning.'
'I was amazed when I found the three guys in the bar. I was speechless,' he said, adding that he had employed a security company on the night in question, but accepted responsibility for the matter.
Judge O Buachalla fined him €400, and ordered the pub be closed for two days.