Most shocking stories 2015

Licence revoked: Man dies after downing whiskey from bottle

By Oli Gross contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Gunmakers Arms has until 7 July to appeal the decision
The Gunmakers Arms has until 7 July to appeal the decision

Related tags: West midlands police, Ethanol, Blood alcohol content

A Birmingham lessee had his licence revoked yesterday (16 June) following the death of a customer who reportedly drank half a litre of whiskey in 20 seconds.

West Midlands Police requested the Gunmakers Arms have its licence reviewed after a man died in the pub when manager and lessee Radi Halabrin was out buying food after the pub closed.

Birmingham City Council revoked the license at a Licensing Committee. The decision does not come into effect until the end of the chance for Halabrin to appeal on 7 July.

Halabrin put the customer, who was unconscious, in the recovery position before leaving with a friend. He returned in the early hours of the morning on 10 December.

When he realised the man had died, Halabrin called an ambulance.

The combination of a high level of alcohol in his blood and his existing conditions of hardening arteries and valvular heart disease appear to have led to his death, a coroner concluded.

The police report concludes that Halabrin had shown ‘disregard’ for the licensing objectives, especially public safety and prevention of crime and disorder. West Midlands Police was seeking a revocation of the license.

In the police Evidence Bundle Halabrin supplies a statement, explaining the customer had reached over the bar, taken a bottle of Jack Daniels Honey and drank ‘about half a litre in about 20 seconds’.

Cllr Lynda Clinton, chair of Licensing Sub-Committee B, said the decision was ‘entirely appropriate’.

“This review highlighted concerns relating to the effective management of this pub, including the fact the Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) did not call the emergency services after he had returned from a restaurant and found a customer dead in the pub,” she said.

“This, and the DPS’s failure to stop the same customer from helping himself to spirits from behind the bar, further shows he was not promoting the licensing objectives.”

A toxicology report found the customer had a blood alcohol level ‘significantly above the threshold typically associated with fatalities’.

Halabrin said he had ‘never seen’ the customer drink like this before.

But he sent a letter to the Licensing Committee to explain he ‘had no reason to believe his life was in danger’ when he left to get food.

Halabrin considered the man as ‘a friend as well as a customer’.

But the police report suggested prompt action in calling an ambulance could have prevented his friend’s death.

The manager’s chance of retaining his license was not helped on 20 February.

Trading Standards visited the pub and found non-duty paid bottles of spirits on display, and evidence that spirits had been decanted from some bottles into others on display in the optics. There were also unlabelled bottles of spirits in the cellar.

Trading standards returned on April 1 to see if the offences had been rectified, and found one litre bottles of Jack Daniels, Jagermeister and Martel Brandy all without stamp duty.

The Committee viewed this as a second reason to revoke the licence.

Halabrin claims the spirits found by officers were homemade spirits from his home country of Slovakia, which he offered to customers for free at celebrations such as birthdays.

Trading Standards found a price list on the wall for various spirits in the pub, such as slivka. Confiscated bottles of clear liquid were tested and found to be 50%abv.

Many regulars to the Gunmakers Arms wrote to the Planning Committee to support Halabrin.

One said he was a ‘very kind person’ who is exemplary in his role and does not tolerate drunkenness or disorder.

Another described the pub as ‘safe and secure in the friendly and family atmosphere’.

Another said Halabrin ‘embraces all cultures’, while one customer said he runs a ‘tight ship and doesn’t suffer foolish or drunken behaviour’.

16 letters of support were submitted to the Licensing Committee prior to the hearing.

Related topics: Licensing law