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Caught in the act – shopkeeper punished for selling alcohol to underage teen

The owner of a shop that sold alcohol to a minor ended up paying out almost 1,000 times the cost of the alcoholic beverage after Waltham Forest Council brought a prosecution against him.

The Council’s Trading Standards team regularly carries out checks using minors to see if shopkeepers are challenging anyone who looks underage to prove they are legally entitled to purchase alcohol.

On 13 December last year, Trading Standards Officers were accompanied by local police officers and two minors – a boy aged 16 and a girl of 14. The minors were asked to attempt to buy alcohol from business premises and were told to tell the truth with regard to their age if challenged by staff. 

The girl entered Harvest Food and Wine at 250 Carr Road, Walthamstow and purchased a bottle of WKD Original Vodka Blue at a cost of £1.49. Mr Gokhan Cakmak was identified as the gentleman who sold the alcohol and was immediately given a Fixed Penalty Notice for the offence by the police officers present. 

Mr Cakmak identified the supervisor of the shop as Mr Cemel Yuce, who was not on the premises at the time of the visit. After further investigation, the Trading Standards team recommended legal proceedings be instigated against Mr Cemel Yuce under Section 146(1) of the Licensing Act 2003. 

“Retailers and their employees have a duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of young people and the communities in which they live by taking reasonable steps to prevent the sale of age-restricted products such as alcohol to minors,” explained Councillor Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment.

“In this case, the shopkeeper patently failed in his duty and as a result found himself up in front of Thames Magistrates earlier this month. The fine and costs apportioned to him are a reflection of how seriously the courts take this sort of thing and a vindication of the good work of our Trading Standards team.”

Mr Yuce did not appear at Thames Magistrates’ Court on 1 August, but the court permitted the matter to proceed in his absence and fined him £600 with a £60 Victim Surcharge and an order to pay costs of £748.65, leaving him with a bill totalling more than £1,400 – almost 1,000 times more than the cost of the drink illegally sold.

The consumption of alcohol by people under the legal age can lead to anti-social behaviour within the community. Trading Standards have a duty to enforce consumer protection legislation such as the Licensing Act 2003 to protect the community against businesses and individuals who sell to people underage. 

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