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Gilles Crepin 56 shots: French bartender guilty of customer drinking himself to death

Shots drinks in cocktail nightclub
Gilles Crepin
Does one French bartender bear moral and legal culpability for one customer drinking themselves to death?

Gilles Crepin a 47 year old French bartender has been found guilty of manslaughter after urging a customer to beat a 56 shot bar record.

During testimony, a French court heard how Crepin, the resident barman at Le Starter, a bar in the central French town of Clermont-Ferrand led a drinking contest in which customer Renaud Prudhomme, 56 was encouraged to continue drinking.

The customer who had been out celebrating with his daughter and friend at the time would be taken to hospital following the drinking bout, only to die the next day.

In handing Crepin his sentence the barman received a four month suspended jail sentence along with being banned from working in a bar for a year.

Going against the barman was an earlier admission in which he acknowledged it had been ‘a mistake’ to display a shots record on a noticeboard.

That said, the barman’s lawyer, Renaud Portejoie, countered the court’s decision, arguing that it was not his client’s job to be the customer’s keeper and would now seek to appeal the ruling and have the case thrown out.

Told the lawyer: ‘It’s a decision guided by emotion and the unconscious desire to set an example.

‘We can’t ask every customer who buys alcohol to present their medical certificates.’ 

The lawyer added his client bore no responsibility and that it had been the man’s daughter who had pushed him to break the record. 

He also claimed Prudhomme already had existing respiratory and alcohol abuse problems which the customer decided to overlook as they set about drinking.

Antoine Portal, a lawyer for Prudhomme’s daughter, claimed her client was not at the bar at the time of the drinking competition.

‘My client is relieved by this decision,‘ Portal said of the ruling.

‘It was a case of inciting someone to consume. That’s an extremely serious mistake for a bar owner.

‘We want to remind some professionals that it is illegal to serve alcohol to clients that are in an advanced state of inebriation.’ 

And then there were these comments on the web that made me wonder. See what you think?

It gets a bit complicated because the bar is in the business of making people impaired. He was an adult when he walked in sober, sure. After 10 drinks, sold to him for profit by the bar, responsibility should start to shift to the bar.

The Bartender had an obligation to refuse to serve the customer, if in his opinion he was in no fit state to continue to consume alcohol on those premises

If someone is prepared to volontarily pay for and down 56 drinks in an evening, surely only the person making this choice is to blame?

No, because once inebriated that person has impaired judgement, and anyone around them has a duty of care to them. It may not always be possible for a bystander to prevent them doing further harm, but if you knowingly supply them with the means to do that harm, knowing that it will harm them and that they are unable to make an informed decision, you’re culpable.

So a barman gets prosecuted for allowing someone to drink too much in the course of 24 hours. Does a shopkeeper get prosecuted for serving someone poison every day, until they did five years later? Do the distilleries get prosecuted for continuing to sell a product that causes liver disease for millions every year? I’m not saying it’s wrong that he’s prosecuted, just pointing out that it’s very hard to achieve moral consistency in this respect.

I think ruling the death a suicide as opposed to a result of manslaughter is a more appropriate evaluation. The man drank himself to death, no one was forcing him.


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