Workers fined for underage cigarette sales
Posted by CitizenCard on 12 March 2013 11:52 AM
Shopkeepers admit selling to teenager.
Two shopkeepers who were caught selling cigarettes to an underage teenager have been fined by magistrates. Nanu Bhai Patel, 64, of Lea News, on Blackpool Road, Preston, was prosecuted by Lancashire County Council Trading Standards.
He pleaded guilty by letter to selling a packet of 10 Benson and Hedges cigarettes to a 14-year-old boy during a test purchasing operation on September 15 last year. In the letter he apologised to magistrates, told them he was approaching retirement and claimed that his business was suffering severely from competition from a nearby Tesco store that had opened.
He admitted he should have checked the boy's ID and claimed he thought he looked 20. Prosecuting, Nick McNamara said: "Mr Patel had attended an age restricted sales course run by Lancashire Trading Standards in which the importance of demanding proof of age was explained to him".
Patel was fined £150 and ordered to pay £90 costs and a £15 victim's surcharge after he admitted a charge of selling tobacco to a person under 18.
In a separate case related to the same operation, 34-year-old Nitesh Yashwantrai Mehta and his wife Meghal Mitesh Mehta, 30, both of Christchurch Street, Broadgate, Preston, were also accused of selling tobacco to a person under 18.
Mr McNamara added Nitesh Mehta had sold a packet of 10 Benson and Hedges cigarettes to the 14-year-old. The offence took place at their store, Vanika's, on Langton Street, Broadgate, Preston.
Ten days after the test purchase the Evening Post reported how Nitesh was robbed at knifepoint in the shop, which is named after their daughter.
The couple pleaded guilty by letter to selling tobacco to a person under 18. Nitesh Mehta, who told investigators he thought the boy was aged in his early 20s but admitted he should have asked for ID as his shop had a Check 21 policy at the time.
He said he had since introduced a Check 25 policy at his shop, meaning staff will ask for ID if a customer looks under 25 years old. However the magistrates bench ruled he must pay a £130 fine, a £15 victim surcharge and £45 costs.
His wife must pay a £90 fine, a £15 victim surcharge, and £45 costs.
(c) Lancashire Evening Post, Stef Hall, 11.03.13, Page 4.