Home Australia Ex-AFL player among six charged in Kimberley alcohol crackdown

Ex-AFL player among six charged in Kimberley alcohol crackdown

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A graphic showing the current alcohol carrying limits in the Kimberley.

Police in Western Australia’s north are urging the community to respect alcohol carrying limits after charging six people, including a prominent traditional owner and a former AFL footballer, with breaching the restrictions.

Under alcohol transport limits, vehicle passengers are restricted to carrying one carton of beer, cider or pre-mixed spirits, three bottles of wine or 1 liter of spirits or fortified wine, or a combination of two products.

Alcohol-related harm in the Kimberley has been highly publicized in recent years, with restrictions on the purchase of liquor in many communities, including Fitzroy Crossing.

The current limits on carrying alcohol in the Kimberley.(Supplied: Department of Local Government)

WA Police issued a warning to Kimberley residents earlier this month, telling the ABC that extra resources were being deployed to find people breaking the rules.

Police are also targeting the practice of sneaky grogging, where people profit by selling alcohol in dry communities or where alcohol consumption is restricted.

The purchase of alcohol in Broome and Derby is also under the microscope, with the state’s director of liquor licensing currently weighing up the possibility of imposing stricter restrictions on the Kimberley towns.

Stacked alcohol which was seized by Kimberley Police

Kimberley Police are targeting sneaky grogging in the region.(Facebook: WA Police )

Set of charges filed

At Fitzroy Crossing Magistrates Court on Tuesday, six people faced charges of possessing quantities of alcohol exceeding current limits.

Rosita Shaw, a prominent Nyikina Mangala traditional owner and community leader, was fined $1,000 and ordered to pay costs of $273.

Police say she was driving a vehicle on the Great Northern Highway at around 3.50pm on March 1, when officers stopped her car.

An older Indigenous woman in a blue floral top and gray cardigan posing for a photograph outside the court in Perth.

Rosita Shaw was fined $1,000 at Fitzroy Crossing Magistrates Court on Tuesday. Archive image.(ABC News: David Weber)

Fifteen bottles of liquor were found in the vehicle.

Shaw told ABC the alcohol was for a family gathering and was purchased by a family member.

Former AFL player Zephaniah Skinner, 34, also appeared in court on Tuesday charged with possession of quantities of alcohol exceeding legal limits.

He was charged in November 2023 and subsequently pleaded not guilty and the matter will go to trial in August.

Skinner, who was recruited by the Western Bulldogs in 2020 and played eight games for the club, faces five other unrelated charges.

A man in a blue football jersey kicks a yellow Aussie Rules ball, while a teammate watches

Zephaniah Skinner, pictured in 2022 playing for Looma Eagles in the West Kimberley Football League.(Supplied: Stanley Francis)

Also on Tuesday, a 40-year-old woman was fined $1,500 and a 27-year-old woman was fined $500 for exceeding transportation limits. Both were charged on February 29 following police searches in Fitzroy Crossing.

Finally, two other women, both in their 50s, were charged with exceeding transportation limits on March 1 and were given served sentences on Tuesday.

The police are “fully committed” to the issue

Kimberley District Police Superintendent Steve Thompson said the illegal sale and supply of alcohol contributed to the level of harm experienced by the local community.

“[This] includes self-harm, family and domestic violence and violence, and serious injury through increased risk-taking,” he said.

“As evidenced by the recent charges laid against a person violating transport limits, Kimberley Police are fully committed to enforcing the law to keep our community safe.”

A police officer looks at the camera.

Steve Thompson, Kimberley District Police Superintendent.(ABC Kimberley: Mya Kordic)

Superintendent Thompson said police were using a range of tactics to find and charge people breaking the rules.

“My officers will carry out a range of actions, from targeted investigations to random operations on the roads to identify and arrest those who do not comply with the restrictions and those who try to profit from the damage,” he said.

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