Liquor regulator sets bar high for Licensees

NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority s

A licensee of a Woolloomooloo hotel has been banned from managing or working in hotels for three years after organising to sell drugs on the premises.

NSW Police referred the (now former) licensee and manager of the Frisco Hotel, Rebecca Wakelin, to the Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority for conduct that breached the liquor laws.

Chairperson Philip Crawford said the Authority made the decision to disqualify Ms Wakelin because she was not a fit and proper person to continue holding a liquor licence.

“Ms Wakelin acted carelessly when she organised for a patron to buy drugs on the hotel premises,” Mr Crawford said.

“This behaviour is inconsistent with the standard the community expects from someone in a position of such responsibility.”

In 2019 police conducted a covert operation to identify drug suppliers in the area. As the Frisco Hotel was connected to instances involving drug possession and violence, it was one of several licensed premises targeted.

A covert officer approached the licensee who agreed to contact a third party to supply cocaine later that day on the hotel’s premises. Part of the conversation included street references to drugs and a promise to arrange the sale.

Ms Wakelin was later questioned and denied having arranged the sale. Only when shown CCTV footage with audio, did she state the truth.

“The licensee’s dishonest actions breached the liquor laws and the regulations,” Mr Crawford said.

“Licensees are responsible for the safe service of alcohol and cannot be permissive to the sale or use of drugs on the premises.

“It is incumbent upon a licensee to be well versed in the legislation and obligations expected of them and this means having a clear understanding of what conversations and behaviour crosses the line.”

Ms Wakelin is disqualified from being the holder of a liquor licence or from being a manager of a licensed premises or a close associate of a licensee for a period of three years.

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