By Liz Webster / firstname.lastname@example.org
A WHITEHALL shopkeeper has been ordered to pay nearly £7,000 after being found guilty of selling alcohol to under-18s.
Muhammad Irshad, who works at the Neath Road Convenience Store, was caught after Bristol City Council’s Trading Standards team launched an investigation using underage volunteers.
In Bristol Magistrates’ Court Mr Irshad pleaded guilty to three offences of unlawfully selling alcohol, knowingly allowing the sale of alcohol to a child and failing to request proof of age of a person under 18 years of age.
He was fined a total of £6,000 with costs of £823 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £15.
The council sting operation was put in place following complaints received from the local community about the premises.
Two test purchase operations were carried out using underage volunteers as part of work designed to clamp down on illegal sales of alcohol to minors.
The volunteers, aged 14 and 15, were sold alcohol on two separate occasions a few weeks apart by the store.
Councillor Guy Poultney, cabinet member for neighbourhoods at Bristol City Council, said: “Selling alcohol to children is not only a serious offence but also has a serious impact on their health and wellbeing and the communities in which they live.
“We want all retailers to take note that Bristol City Council will take every action to stop it.
“The council’s trading standards and licensing services will continue to carry out exercises like this until shopkeepers get the message that it is their responsibility to ensure they do not sell alcohol to under 18s.”
A resident of Foxcroft Road, who did not want to be named, said: “We’ve had problems in the past with groups of underage youths drinking in the streets and in the park. It is antisocial and can be quite intimidating.
“It would help the problem if shops and supermarkets check the ages of those buying the booze.
“I know a lot use the challenge 25 test where they ask anyone under 25 years old for ID. You might say they’ll get hold of alcohol anyway but the more obstructions in the way the better.”
Legal proceedings are still pending against Mohammed Ramzan, who is the premises’ licence holder, officials confirmed.
l To report a shopkeeper selling alcohol or cigarettes to underage teenagers, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.