A Napier businessman who a coroner says "effectively drank himself to death" had become intoxicated at a private club before dying at home.
A coroner's findings into the death of Nic Magdalinos has sparked a call for "a new morality" from National Addiction Centre director and University of Otago Professor Doug Sellman.
Magdalinos, the then managing director of Paris Magdalinos Architects, died in his sleep aged just 36 in the early hours of the morning at his Napier home on September 29, 2017.
Findings released to Hawke's Bay Today by coroner Peter Ryan show he succumbed to acute alcohol consumption after nearly four hours of heavy drinking at Napier's Hawke's Bay Club in the hours leading up to his death.
"Mr Magdalinos effectively drank himself to death, consuming an excessive amount of alcohol at the Hawke's Bay Club on the evening of 28 September 2017 and dying at his home after returning there by taxi from the Club."
The report detailed how club members had observed him becoming increasingly intoxicated, after he purchased a 1-litre bottle of Dewars whisky, most of which he consumed himself.
Magdalinos had told Allan Clark, a steward at the club, that the bottle was to take away, but he then decided to open it at the club and share it.
About 9.30pm, Clark saw Magdalinos drinking the whisky outside.
"I think I saw three glasses."
Clark advised the group that he was leaving. He had also suggested to Magdalinos that he leave when the other members of his group left.
"I know what he could get like and I didn't want him to stay there by himself.
"By that I mean he doesn't know when to stop.
"When I left they were all happy and not causing any trouble. Just like a normal person who had a few drinks."
Clark had said it was difficult to tell how much alcohol was consumed by Magdalinos.
Magdalinos, the son of the late modernist architect Paris Magdalinos, arrived at the club about 6pm and began drinking in the outdoor veranda area, where he was observed as "louder and more jovial than most".
An associate, Carl Rowling, saw him pouring very large shots of whisky.
"I remember being surprised by how fast his speech had changed and he went from being articulate to very slurred, almost incoherent."
Fellow member Jonathan Norman, said he started filling "really big drinks, more than half a glass of whiskey and he was just downing them".
Rowling then accompanied him home in a taxi about 9.30pm.
Once at his Enfield Rd home, Magdalinos couldn't navigate the stairs to his bedroom. His fiancee, Vania Bailey, said he was "rambling on, singing that sort of thing".
She contemplated ringing an ambulance, but he'd become angry when she'd called emergency services on previous occasions. She fell asleep next to him, but at 3am woke to find him cold and unresponsive.
A pathologist later found a blood-alcohol level of 378mg - more than seven times the legal driving limit of 50mg.
The club was granted a charter under on 1 February 1882, under which, more than 100 years later, exempts it from some regulations of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012.
One of the sections under the Act, which requires a manager to be "on duty at all times and responsible for compliance" did not apply to the club, "the rationale apparently being that the club is not selling alcohol to the public, but rather to club members or their guests".
The coroner said the object of the legislation was that the consumption of alcohol "should be undertaken safely and responsibly". However, he said the alcohol, including the bottle of whisky, was supplied during authorised trading hours.
Magdalinos' invoice for the night totalled $114.40.
"Mr Magdalinos effectively drank himself to death," Ryan stated in his finding.
Bailey said her partner's passing was "an utter tragedy", and suggested the club's rules "should change".
"Drinking is a personal responsibility, and the responsibility of those around you," she said.
"The club operates under different rules yes, but I think they should be the same rules as a public bar. They [the club] did care a lot for Nic, but I didn't know he'd had a bottle of whisky, if he didn't have that bottle maybe this would've been the difference."
She said her fiance was a heavy drinker.
"He had a high-profile and a stressful business. Like many high-profile businesspeople alcohol is seen as the only way to release that stress, and this is what needs to change.
"Nothing good ever comes from drinking alcohol."
National Addiction Centre director and University of Otago Professor Doug Sellman, said he considers the case highlighted the need for a "new morality".
Marc Nel, president of Hawkes Bay Club, said the club appreciated the request to respond to Sellman's comments, but would not be commenting due to the "nature and timing" of the request.
"Morality is a word associated with churches or religion, but it should be applied here," Sellman said.
"I think the club - operating within what amounts to a licensed premises - provided Mr Magdalinos a lethal dose of alcohol."
"In my view the club should have taken steps to protect the safety (wellbeing) of its member who was observed to be grossly intoxicated.
"From what I can see it would seem it's likely that gross intoxication is a relatively normal occurrence at the club, ie that Mr Magdalinos' grossly intoxicated state as a result of observed very heavy drinking wasn't viewed as anything particularly out of the ordinary to what regularly occurs at the premises.
"If this is the case then it's possible the club is not acting in accordance with the harm minimisation objectives of the current liquor law."