New laws in April to address bouncer concerns

Matthew Patrick Heagney. Photo / NZPA, Supplied
Matthew Patrick Heagney. Photo / NZPA, Supplied

New legislation which comes into place next year will address some of the concerns raised by the parents of a man killed when he was thrown out of a bar in Blenheim two years ago.

Kevin King, former co-owner of the Shapeshifters pub in central Blenheim, was yesterday found guilty of manslaughter over the death of Matt Heagney.

King, who later moved to Christchurch, denied manslaughter but was found guilty by a jury after four hours deliberation in the High Court at Wellington.

Mr Heagney was 24 in August last year when 50-year-old King put him in a headlock from behind. He and two inexperienced bouncers then threw him outside the door of King's pub.

The back of Mr Heagney's head hit the concrete footpath and he was pronounced dead a few hours later from severe head injuries.

Mr Heagney's parents Pat and Pam said while they were happy with yesterday's verdict it would not bring their son back.

Mr Heagney has written to numerous authorities in a bid to get tougher rules to safeguard pub patrons and more thorough training introduced for hospitality staff.

"I hope the industry will take a good look at itself now. Other people have been killed (in similar fashion) and nothing was done," said Pat Heagney.

If action was taken, "at least my son's death won't be in vain."

The Private Security Personnel and Private Investigators Bill which was passed in September comes into force on April 1.

It requires bouncers, also known as crowd controllers, to hold a licence or certificate of approval. Licensing will involve screening for certain criminal convictions. The legislation is aimed at preventing unsuitable people from working as bouncers.

In a speech given soon before the bill passed, Associate Justice Minister Nathan Guy said the legislative changes reflected the significant risk of unsuitable people operating as bouncers.

The bill also required security personnel, including bouncers, to undertake training.

"It is inevitable that people in these roles will, from time to time, find themselves involved in situations that could result in a physical confrontation.

"It is in the best interests of everyone that they are properly equipped to deal with such situations," Mr Guy said in September.


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