'Every chance' there could be more Mama Hooch victims, police say

Fri, May 26
Danny Jaz (left) and Roberto Jaz were convicted of rape and a series of other charges.

It’s possible there are even more victims affected by the spate of drink spiking at Mama Hooch, according to the officer in charge of the police investigation.

Warning: This article discusses sexual assault and may be distressing to some readers.

The revelation comes after two brothers – Danny and Roberto Jaz – were convicted on 68 charges over a drink spiking ring at the bar they ran in Christchurch, with a judge finding them guilty of a range of offences from disabling and stupefying to indecent assault, sexual violation and rape.

Danny was the bar manager at Mama Hooch, and preyed on his own patrons and waitresses, while Roberto was a chef at nearby restaurant named Venuti and would frequent the bar after work.

It was proven in court they had drugged 17 young women between them from 2015 to 2018, and sexually assaulted the same number over that timeframe. They often worked together to systematically target young women in their depraved spree of crimes.

The officer in charge of the police investigation, Detective Inspector Scott Anderson, said there’s every chance more people were affected in that time.

"There may well be other people out there that believe they have been the victim of what was happening at Mama Hooch and Venuti and haven't come forward to the police for whatever reason," he said.

Anyone considering coming forward would be well supported by police, he added.

"It becomes more and more difficult the further down the track we get," he said.

"[But] if there’s evidence and it satisfies the prosecution guidelines, we'd be more than happy to work further on the prosecution."

While it’s very rare for predators who spike drinks to work at the bar where they offend, Anderson advised caution for people out drinking.

"You've just got to be really careful around your drink, your friends' drinks and around the behaviours of other people around you,” he said.

"If your friends are behaving in a manner that they don’t normally behave in, I'd really like to think some red flags would start to come up.”

The officer described the victims involved in this trial as a "sisterhood" of women who wanted to support each other on the path to justice.

"As soon as someone comes to us, part of the process is to get them networked with the support agency, some people want it and some people don't and quite often the organisations will carry them through their journey,” he said.

No further complainants have come forward to police since the case was publicised, but their lines remain open.


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