The former General Manager of Shelly Beach Golf Club, Craig Ellis, has been banned from the club industry for life and fined $11,000 for tampering with evidence in a police investigation.
In a ruling issued today, the NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA) has also ordered the club to pay $32,000 to cover Liquor & Gaming NSW’s investigation costs.
The penalty against Mr Ellis is the second life ban to be imposed following the NSW Government’s reforms to the Registered Clubs Act passed by Parliament in March.
Under the reforms, club directors and senior managers who do the wrong thing can be banned for life and fined up to $11,000.In 2017, Mr Ellis was jailed after being found guilty of tampering with CCTV footage taken at the club, which was used as evidence in a prosecution against patron Bernie Nash for charges of drink-driving and resisting arrest.
When police asked the club for evidence of Mr Nash’s alcohol consumption on the night he was arrested, Mr Ellis instructed a member of staff to provide only part of the complete footage. The footage provided showed Mr Nash consuming just three schooners of beer, when in fact he had consumed seven in two hours.
Mr Ellis also produced a membership ledger for that day that had a number of alcohol purchases omitted from the record.Mr Nash was acquitted of the offences and then successfully sued NSW Police for wrongful arrest, assault and malicious prosecution, winning damages of $125,000 plus legal costs.
Following the lawsuit, police were notified that the evidence had been tampered with, leading to the charges against Mr Ellis.
Mr Ellis was sentenced to a 22-month jail term with a non-parole period of 10 months for the offence of ‘tampering with evidence with the intent to mislead a judicial tribunal’.
Liquor & Gaming NSW’s investigation, which resulted in a complaint to ILGA, found Mr Ellis was not a fit and proper person to act in the position of General Manager at the Club.
Liquor & Gaming NSW Director of Compliance Operations, Sean Goodchild, said senior officers of registered clubs need to act with honesty and integrity at all times to protect the interests of their members and the communities they serve.
“There is an expectation that any holder of a liquor or gaming licence will assist police and Liquor and Gaming NSW inspectors with enquiries” Mr Goodchild said.
“The willful obstruction of police by tampering with CCTV is a very serious matter, and this is reflected in the custodial sentence imposed on Mr Ellis.”
“The fine and banning Mr Ellis for life sends a clear message to others in the industry that this sort of misconduct will not be tolerated,” Mr Goodchild said.
ILGA also added a condition to the Club’s licence that requires a CCTV system that covers all publicly accessible areas of the venue, and that footage must be kept for no less than 28 days.
Media: Sean Harnett | 9934 0710