James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Drunk-boy witness fears reprisals

Man who took video of skatepark incident which went viral globally says he won't be returning to the scene

Three people have been charged with giving alcohol to a 9-year-old who was filmed, apparently drunk, at a Hamilton skatepark.

And the man who posted the video says he won't return to the park because he fears retribution for his actions.

Waikato police communications manager Andrew McAlley said a number of people were spoken to yesterday in relation to an incident at Fairfield Park on Tuesday. The boy, who drank eight cans of 7 per cent Codys RTD and two shots, claimed he got the alcohol from an "aunty" although inquiries showed the woman was not related to him.

A man in his 20s also seen drinking at the skatepark on the video tells the person filming the incident that everything was fine "because we're Maori bro".

Mr McAlley said it was too early for police to discuss what, if any, charges may eventuate but he said the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 was playing a significant part in their considerations.

The man who posted the video, Bradley Goudie, said police contacted Google to have the footage removed. It was taken off the site yesterday. He said about 480,000 people had seen the footage before it was removed yesterday afternoon. The video has also appeared on news websites in Australia and the UK and the footage was copied by an American website.

Mr Goudie thought police had focused more on removing his video than dealing with the issue although police told the Herald they were at the scene within 10 minutes of receiving his call.

"This is frustrating for me because this video is the reason the police did anything about the matter, if this hadn't have gone up nothing would have been done about it," he said.

The boy's father, whom the Herald has agreed not to name, was saddened the video had gone viral. He said he was still trying to find out who provided his son the alcohol.

"The one I feel sorry for in all of this is my son; it's a breach of his privacy really," he said.

He knew the man on the video who claimed to be his son's "brother".

Mr Goudie said he had received supportive feedback for posting the footage but said he wouldn't go back to the skatepark. "If I show my face in that place again I could possibly be beaten up or god only knows what but I stand by my decision and I think I did the right thing."

Hamilton-based Labour MP Sue Moroney and Hauraki-Waikato MP Nanaia Mahuta said they were meeting police to ensure the adult who supplied alcohol to the boy was held accountable.

"There is something very wrong about any adult thinking that it's fun, entertaining or appropriate to get a child drunk," said Ms Moroney.

The boy and his mother were believed to have returned to a tangi yesterday. They had been at a tangi before he went to the park.

His mother has said he is grounded indefinitely. CYF is looking into the case but a spokeswoman told the Herald there was no urgent investigation. The organisation was instead offering help to police and the family.

Police have previously said the boy comes from a stable home.

Binge-drinking kids risk brain damage or worse

An alcohol expert says children risk brain damage or even death if they are exposed to binge-drinking.

Director of the National Addiction Centre Professor Doug Sellman said binge-drinking was more dangerous to children and young teenagers because of their smaller body masses.

He said the same dose of alcohol would produce a higher blood-alcohol concentration and thus a higher level of dangerous intoxication which could result in death - either by stopping breathing, a heart arrhythmia or through aspiration pneumonia.

Professor Sellman said binge-drinking could delay the maturation of a child's brain and lower moods, which could affect their ability to accumulate knowledge.

With severe intoxication, if any or all of the three mechanisms of death described above did not occur there was still a serious risk of brain damage "which will impact on the person for the rest of their life - cognitively and behaviourally".

"There is also the risk of brain damage through injury."

Professor Sellman said the alcohol industry had remained "very quiet" about the story.

"Why? Because they know that the product this young boy was consuming was designed by them exactly for the purpose of increasing drinking among young people.

"We know this because an industry insider came out in public about it, admitting its use of sugar to make alcohol more palatable to children and how these drinks are targeted towards young people."

- NZ Herald

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