A campaign for the closure of a French shot-bar has attracted hundreds of followers after the bartender was handed a suspended jail sentence for manslaughter after he let a man down 56 shots during a drinking contest that led to his death in October 2014.
Bartender Gilles Crepin, 47, received a four-month suspended sentence by a local court on Wednesday (27 May) and was banned from working in a bar for a year.
At an earlier hearing, Crepin admitted that he had made a mistake by displaying the shots record on a noticeboard and encouraging the victim, Renaud Prudhomme, who broke the in-house shots record at Le Starter, a bar in Clermont-Ferrand, in central France.
After spending the evening with his daughter Julie P and some friends, Prudhomme was helped home in his inebriated state. However, the group had to phone the emergency services. Prudhomme, 56, died in hospital the following day.
Campaigning for closure
Following Prudhomme's death, the bar was closed for a month until 19 December 2014, but re-opened.
A group has taken to social media to petition for the definitive closure of the establishment.
"Because the law is the same for everyone and it says that a bar owner must refuse to serve alcohol to an intoxicated customer," the campaign's official Facebook page states.
In a post, the page administrator said: "We are touched to see there are still some people who are concerned about seeing this law upheld and to punish those who have no qualms or remorse in trampling it."
The bartender's lawyer, Renaud Portejoie, said his client bore no responsibility. He claimed it was the man's daughter who had pushed him to break the record and that he had existing respiratory and alcohol abuse problems.
"It's a decision guided by emotion and the unconscious desire to set an example," Portejoie said, adding he would appeal the ruling.
"We can't ask every customer who buys alcohol to present their medical certificates," he said.
The lawyer of Prudhomme's daughter, said she was not at the bar during the entire time of the drinking competition.
Julie P said she saw her father swallow the first 44 small glasses of alcohol - 14 first, then 30. According to her account, he was then given extra helpings of 12 shooters with an objective: to beat the record for the largest number of shots.
"It is these 12 first glasses that are really problematic," lawyer Antoine Portal said at a previous hearing. "Before serving, the bar owner should have realised that the client had already swallowed a very large amount of alcohol. His drunkenness was no longer in doubt. Ultimately, and according to my calculations, the victim still drank 1.12 litres of strong alcohol in two hours, maximum. The manager should have intervened before, obviously."
Following the bartender's sentencing, Portal said: "We want to remind some professionals that it is illegal to serve alcohol to clients who are in an advanced state of inebriation."