A publican sold alcohol out of his taxi almost 150 times during the COVID-19 lockdown.
A publican sold alcohol out of his taxi almost 150 times during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Publican slammed with 10-year ban from selling booze

A FORMER Alice Springs publican has been disqualified from holding a liquor licence for 10 years after admitting to selling alcohol out of his taxi 149 times when his pub was forced to close during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The NT Liquor Commission also decided to cancel the licence at the pub - Bojangles Saloon and Restaurant.

On November 5 last year, Anthony Habib pleaded guilty to a multitude of alcohol-related offences in the Local Court at Alice Springs.

He was convicted and sentenced to nine months jail, suspended after one month.

In sentencing Mr Habib, Judge Bamber described the offending as "really significant and appalling offending, which occurred over an extended period". He accepted Habib was genuinely remorseful, that the offending occurred out of financial pressure which had affected his mental health.

During the decision, the Liquor Commission's acting deputy chairman Russell Gold-flam said Habib's "grossly irresponsible management of Bojangles has caused significant harm to the Alice Springs community since at least mid- 2018".

"His offending in April and May 2020 was, as the sentencing judge remarked, appalling.

In the evaluation of the Commission, Mr Habib is not a fit and proper person to hold the Bojangles licence, or indeed any liquor licence held under the Act."

Bojangles saloon occupies a prime spot in the heart of Alice Springs
Bojangles saloon occupies a prime spot in the heart of Alice Springs

In the decision remarks, the Commission considered "that it should only cancel a licence when the misconduct of a licensee has been so serious … in order to adequately protect the public interest".

It stated a previous fine and licence suspension for failing to remove drunk patrons from the pub failed to deter Habib from further engaging in serious misconduct.

On June 30, Robert Bitar (Habib's brother) sought to lodge an application with Licensing NT for the transfer of the licence to him, which was denied by relevant authorities, including the police, and was refused by the Commission in January.

As the Commission announced its decision to cancel the licence, Mr Bitar's lawyer withdrew the application to transfer the licence.

The Commission also refused to authorise the transfer of the (former) licence to any future applicant who may reopen Bojangles, so that they must apply for a new licence.

    

 

Originally published as NT publican slammed with 10 year ban from selling booze