A 46-year-old Parkvale woman has appeared in the Tauranga District Court and been convicted of supplying alcohol to a 15-year-old boy in April.
Hinepare Tepere was approached by the 15-year-old male near McCallum's Fine Wines, Beers and Spirits on Cameron Road on the evening of Thursday 5 April and was asked if she would purchase alcohol for him.
She agreed and after being given money by the youth, went into McCallum's and bought 12 cans of Bourbon and Cola 8% 'ready to drink' alcohol.
Tepere was seen coming out of the bottle store and handing the alcohol to the boy by two police officers from the Traffic Alcohol Group (TAG) who were driving past at the time. She was stopped and questioned about what they had seen and admitted she had bought the alcohol for the youth and that she did not know him.
Tepere pleaded guilty and was fined $250. The maximum penalty for supplying alcohol to a minor in those circumstances is $2000.
Tauranga Police Alcohol Harm Reduction Co-ordinator, Sergeant Nigel McGlone, says that it was fortunate that some vigilant Police officers were driving past at the time and took action.
"We have all seen the images of what can happen when young people, get hold of alcohol and drink in unsupervised environments. This scenario had trouble written all over it from an alcohol harm perspective - an unsupervised 15 year old with a substantial quantity of high volume alcohol to drink can lead to all sorts of mayhem".
"The only people who can legally supply alcohol to youths under 18 years of age are their parents or legal guardians. Tepere had no such association to this 15 year old and didn't even know who he was. That's just wholly irresponsible".
Sergeant McGlone says he not so naive as to think this was an isolated incident.
"I'm sure this happens at other premises in the Western Bay and while we ask our off-licence owners and staff to be vigilant as far as who they are selling alcohol to and where it might be going, they can't always be expected to know who is getting access to the alcohol they sell, once it leaves their store.
"This doesn't absolve the seller of any responsibility but we would have to prove that the seller knew or had a reasonable belief that alcohol was going to be supplied to a minor before any enforcement action could be taken".
Police have spoken with the licensee at McCallum's and have stressed the vigilance message to them. They will not face any further action in relation to this particular matter but have been given advice on how to improve their systems.
The 15-year-old was returned to his home where his father was spoken to and was supportive of police action.