James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Mum's fury as son, 9, given alcohol

Police appalled at incident and the actions of people at Hamilton skatepark are being investigated.

The mother of a Hamilton boy who was filmed celebrating his ninth birthday drinking at a skatepark says she was shocked and angry to discover he had been consuming alcohol.

A video of the boy, who appears to be intoxicated, was posted on YouTube yesterday, showing him holding a can of Cody's RTD bourbon and cola drink. He appears barely able to stand and is later seen slumped against a wall at a skatepark in Fairfield. Police said they were appalled by the incident and the actions of the people at the park are being investigated.

The boy's mother, who the Herald has chosen not to name to protect his identity, said her family had been at a tangi. When they arrived home the boy, excited about his birthday, ran off to tell his friends who lived nearby.

He later arrived home, acting strangely, and tried to pour himself a drink but instead spilled it all over himself.

"He smelled like Lynx [deodorant] and I asked him 'what's wrong with you ?' then I could see he was really drunk."

The mother said her son had never drunk alcohol before. He was put straight to bed but was sick during the night.

She said she was "extremely angry" that an adult had supplied alcohol to her son. She was also angry that a number of people had seen the events unfold but did not contact her or police immediately.

The mother said her son had received a "very good talking to" yesterday morning and at the police station later that day.

He was "grounded indefinitely".

"Don't you worry, he's not going far," she said.

Video

Hamilton City area commander Inspector Greg Nicholls said police were considering charges under the sale of alcohol act. However, the legislation around the supplying of alcohol to minors "never envisaged an adult supplying alcohol to a 9-year-old child".

"I see the drunken activities of adults who one would think could make good choices in life," he said. "But to have a vulnerable young boy consuming alcohol is very appalling."

- Whistleblower: I was concerned for his safety -

The man who shot the video, 18-year-old scooter rider Bradley Goudie, said he and a friend had found the boy drunk about 4.30pm. In the video Mr Goudie can be heard talking to people around the boy saying "he's like 8 ... he could die". "Basically I was just concerned about his safety because he was trying to hop on his scooter and ride around the bowl. And alcohol and physical activity do not mix - especially when you're only 9 years old."

He reported the incident to police and later posted the footage on YouTube because he wanted to highlight the issue and anti-social behaviour at the park.

Mr Nicholls said police went to the skatepark on Clarkin Rd on Tuesday at 6pm after receiving several concerned calls from the public.

Mr Nicholls described the boy's home life as stable and caring but CYF had been contacted to provide any support the family may need.

The boy's father, who is separated from the boy's mother, said he was appalled his son was allowed to drink alcohol and first learned of the incident when somebody called to say his son was on YouTube.

"My heart is ripping out at the moment, I'm trying to hold it together," he said.

- Alcohol Healthwatch: It's not illegal, unfortunately -

Alcohol Healthwatch director Rebecca Williams said it was "horrifyingly frightening'' for a child that young to be drunk.

"It's an extraordinarily risky and dangerous situation. That child is very, very vulnerable to harm at that age, not only to the alcohol itself, but being vulnerable in a public space like that, without proper supervision.''

While it was "quite rare'' for primary school-aged children to get drunk, alcohol was incredibly toxic to young children, Ms Williams said.

"The younger they are, the more likely they are to be harmed earlier with alcohol consumption, so we really do need to keep alcohol out of the hands of children.''

Ms Williams said when a child that age had access to alcohol and was able to drink it in public, it was an issue of adult supervision.

"There's concerns obviously in terms of who supplied it, how they were allowed to consume it without it being taken off them.''

The new drinking laws clearly made the supply of alcohol to children illegal, if the alcohol was given to them by anyone other than a parent.

But if a parent supplied the alcohol then "nothing is illegal about it, unfortunately''.

Ms Williams said parents had to supply alcohol to their children in a responsible manner, and that included supervision.

"But I would say supply to someone that young is irresponsible, regardless of whether they're being supervised or not.''

- NZ Herald

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