Nov 28 2012 By Ian Proctor
TWO convenience store owners have been fined for selling alcohol to teenagers in an undercover sting.
Sole trader Sithamparapillai Pratheepan, 43, of Lyncroft Avenue, Pinner, allowed two 14-year-olds to purchase two bottles of Budweiser lager at his Kenton Food and Wine business in Kenton Lane, Harrow, on December 21 last year.
Willesden Magistrates' Court heard yesterday the child volunteers, working under the instruction and supervision of officers from Brent and Harrow Trading Standards, managed to get served "completely unchallenged" by Pratheepan's wife.
The court was told that it was clear that the wife had received insufficient training and as such she was unsure as to what form of identification should be requested to determine a customer’s age.
Pratheepan admitted selling alcohol to a person under 18 and was fined £265 and ordered to pay prosecution costs to Harrow Council of £715.
His solicitor provided a letter to the court detailing the steps the shopkeeper would take to prevent this happening again.
The same two child volunteers were used in a sting carried out the same day as the first at Sathees Food and Wine in Streatfield Road, Harrow.
Owner Chandrasegaram Satheeswaran, 40, of Merlin Crescent, Edgware, was not present and had left the store in the charge of one employee who, the court heard, did not have the confidence or training to ask the youngsters for identification when they approached the counter with two bottles of Bacardi Breezer.
Satheeswaran admitted selling alcohol to a person under 18 and was fined £160 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £775 to Harrow Council.
He told the court he would train his staff and introduce a refusals register.
Bill Bilon, head of consumer and business protection at Brent and Harrow Trading Standards, said after the hearings: "I am disappointed that despite all the advice and assistance that we provide to businesses about their legal responsibility, sales of alcohol to minors are still taking place.
"Our aim is to protect children from a range of goods that are age restricted due to the health risks that they pose and to tackle the associated anti-social behaviour that usually occurs when these products fall into the hands of minors.
"We will continue to conduct operations of this type to test the ability of retailers to refuse such sales."