'Backyard booze could kill teens'

A HORRIFIED Warwick mother has issued a warning to make all parents of teenagers sit up and take notice -“don't let your kids drink cheap backyard booze”.

The Daily News can reveal local children as young as 12 are wiping themselves out with illegal spirits such as rum, vodka, scotch and tequila bought from home distillers openly flouting liquor laws.

Some of the drinks - including home-made absinthe, a colourful and liquorice-flavoured concoction and sambuca - are up to 90 per cent pure alcohol which could easily kill a young drinker who consumes too much.

But of even greater concern is the claim some of the drinks contain alarmingly high levels of methylated spirits - added by the distillers to cut costs - which could be equally as deadly.

The mother of three teens, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said she knew of at least three separate home distillers in Warwick selling booze to unsuspecting young people “and God knows how many middlemen”.

“(The kids) are paying $15 for a bottle of spirits which is 40 per cent alcohol to take to a party,” she said.

“There are young fellows out there buying it off the makers and on-selling it.

“It is readily available at a number of locations in Warwick and has been for some years and the point is there are no age checks.

“Some of it is of reasonable quality and is probably being made by retired guys for a bit of extra cash, but some of it no-one should be touching.”

The mum said the first time she found her teenagers with the cheap grog she had been shocked to discover nothing less than a flagon of it and reeking of metho.

“I asked them what they were drinking and they took the top off the bottle and let me smell it,” she said.

“I said to them 'if you drink this stuff, you're dead'.

“They told me they just went to someone's house and bought it.”

She pleaded with local parents to educate their teens about the dangers involved with “metho moonshine”.

“If your kids tell you they're going to a party, open up a bottle of metho and let them smell it (so they know what to look out for),” she said.

“But it's not just that - any of these drinks can be dangerous to kids of 14 or 16 who are going to parties but who don't really know what is safe alcohol consumption.

“They don't realise what the consequences can be of drinking liquor that strong and if they drink it quickly, which many of them do.

“Especially if it's coloured and looks pretty.”

A Warwick Police spokesman said they were conducting an investigation into the sale of illegal spirits in the local area but could not comment further at this point.

A Queensland Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation spokeswoman said they were “not aware of any issues with selling home brew in Warwick but will investigate any complaints received”.

“Under the provisions of the Liquor Act 1992 you must have a licence to sell any liquor, which includes home brew,” the spokeswoman said.

“The sale of home brew kits by unlicensed persons however is not illegal.”

The maximum penalty under Queensland law for a third offence of selling home-made alcohol is $100,000 or 18 months jail.

A first offence carries a maximum fine of $50,000 and a second a maximum fine of $70,000 or six months jail.

Know of anyone selling backyard spirits? Call the Warwick Police on 4660 4444 or the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation on 13 13 04.

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