By James Atkinson
A bar owner who was allegedly involved in a serious assault on an evicted patron has retained his liquor licence, but was ordered to pay a $4,000 fine.
Western Australian Police alleged Sean Spence, the licensee of Evolution Lounge Bar – which touts itself as "the only place to be in Karratha" – assaulted the patron on February 19 this year in the car park adjacent to the venue.
Police claimed Spence later instructed staff to destroy CCTV images of the car park incident and had the CCTV camera configuration altered in order to mislead them.
On February 20, Spence was charged with grievous bodily harm, attempting to pervert the course of justice and aggravated assault occasioning bodily harm.
In April, police lodged a complaint with the Liquor Commission of WA seeking disqualification of Spence from holding a position of authority in licensed premises.
In the subsequent Liquor Commission hearing, lawyers for Spence argued that he had pleaded not guilty to all three offences and was currently on bail. They said the evidence against him in respect of the incident in the car park was entirely circumstantial.
But Commission chairperson Jim Freemantle ruled that while there was some doubt over whether Spence had attempted to pervert the course of justice, "on the balance of probabilities he did commit the assault".
"Irrespective of what provocation there may have been, Mr Spence as a person in a position of authority should have exhibited greater control in respect of his actions," he said.
"The Commission expresses its concern that Mr Spence has exercised poor judgement for a person entrusted with the privilege of being able to sell and supply liquor."
But Freemantle said the assault alone was not a sufficient ground for Spence to be disqualified from holding a licence.
Instead, he issued a formal reprimand against Spence and ordered him to pay a fine of $4,000.