Saturday, January 25, 2014

'Freezing,' wrecked and busted at Wreck Beach!

Vancouver woman charged with selling alcoholic 'freezies' at Wreck Beach

Susan Lazaruk
Friday, January 24, 2014

An internet photo of Alana Thomson, who is charged with illegally selling alcohol at Wreck Beach. (Facebook photograph)

A woman charged with allegedly selling alcoholic “freezies” at the popular nudist hangout Wreck Beach is the first to face criminal charges in what police say is a crackdown on the open sale of liquor and drugs.
Alana Thomson, 31, of Vancouver, had a court date this week to face 14 charges, including several counts of unlawfully selling, advertising and soliciting for orders of “frozen alcoholic beverages, commonly known as "freezies,” according to court documents obtained by The Province.

The charges include one count of manufacturing freezies and two counts of possession of drugs, marijuana and ecstasy, for the purposes of trafficking.

The court hearing was adjourned for a month.

Thomson didn’t return messages left on her active Facebook page, which said recently she’d been in Namibia, the Bahamas and Panama.

Her lawyer, Patrick McGowan, said Thomson has received some disclosure of evidence from Crown and is awaiting further disclosure before deciding whether to fight the charges.

At her February court hearing, which she’s not required to attend, “There may well a trial date set,” he said.
“It’s an unusual charge,” said McGowan. “It’s often a ticketable offence. This is a more aggressive approach.”

Thomson posted a bio on the Vancouver Entrepreneur Mentors website in October, saying she was a budding entrepreneur looking to “play in the big league with the help of a mentor to ... develop freezies that are cocktails fit for adults. A lime margarita, strawberry daiquiri or some other delicious cocktail us big kids can enjoy!”

Her goal is to “get this product on the liquor shelves all throughout Canada by the summer of 2014.”

Thomson was charged under British Columbia’s Liquor Act, which prohibits the selling and advertising of alcohol without a licence and, under Section 55 of the act, manufacturing alcohol.

Police allege she sold the freezies at Wreck Beach, a 7.8-kilometre strip of clothing-optional beach near the University of British Columbia known for decades as much for its culture of open drug and alcohol use as for its nude beachgoers.

“There is a lot of drugs and alcohol going on (at Wreck Beach),” said University of British Columbia RCMP spokesman Sergeant Drew Grainger. “It’s been a challenge for this detachment for many years.”

He said that since 2011, patrolling officers have issued hundreds of $230 violation tickets for open alcohol, at the rate of a half-dozen to 20 a day.

He said the laying of charges, which have been approved by Crown, was necessary in this case because “this person is somebody who came to our attention quickly.”

Court documents allege Thomson “did advertise liquor or the availability of liquor” and “did canvass for, solicit, receive or take orders for the purchase or sale of liquor.”

Undercover officers allegedly bought the freezies over three days at the beginning of July and about a month later.

Judy Williams of the Wreck Beach Preservation Society said she knows Thomson.

“She's obnoxious, she’s loud and she didn’t follow the dictates of the culture down there. There’s an etiquette on the beach and you don’t get in people’s faces. They don’t like that.”

Grainger said RCMP will be stepping up police patrols in the summer to protect the public from possibly ingesting something harmful because “we don’t know what’s in that liquor,” and from potential violence that he said could result from competing vendors.

“There’s going to be enhanced police patrols done there, I can guarantee that, throughout the summer months,” he said.

“We would be naive to think that there isn’t going to continue to be the sale of drugs and alcohol, but we have to keep it at a level that ensures the safety and security of beachgoers.”

Editor's note: Vancouver defence lawyer Patrick McGowan’s name was misspelled in a Province article on Jan. 23 and his profession was stated incorrectly. The Province apologizes for the error.


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