Brighton shop loses drink licence after selling booze to children

Posted On 14 Feb 2012 at 3:12 pm

A Brighton shop has lost its licence to sell alcohol after being caught serving 16-year-olds.

Park Road News, in Park Road, Coldean, was caught out after the police and trading standards officers said that they had received repeated intelligence of children buying drink there.

Test purchases were made in 2009, 2010 and late last year. Shop owner Ajay Suchak, 52, sold drink to children on four occasions, including last November and December. He is due to be prosecuted at Brighton Magistrates’ Court next month.

When Mr Suchak was challenged about the most recent failed test purchase, PC Lee Gotting and PC Neil Beaumont said in written statements that Mr Suchak became hostile and aggressive.

Sussex Police, supported by the trading standards department of Brighton and Hove City Council, asked a licensing panel to revoke the licence for Park Road News.

The panel, sitting at Hove Town Hall today, was presented with written evidence from Inspector Bill Whitehead detailing criminal and anti-social behaviour by children in the area near the shop.

He said that officers had confiscated drink from children hanging around in Chepstow Court and Woburn Place although he did not say where the children had obtained the drink.

Robbery

Mr Suchak said that he had been injured in a knifepoint robbery in the autumn and had been distracted when the subsequent test purchases were made. When a previous test purchase was failed he had been mourning a close friend.

He added that he had run the premises for 20 years but was selling up.

Peter Savill, for Sussex Police, told the licensing panel that they had to revoke the licence to protect the community.

He said that an offer of extra conditions on the licence should be disregarded because Mr Suchak had shown himself unable even to adhere to the existing conditions.

One of the licensing panel members, Councillor Dee Simson, said: “It’s a bit like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.”

Failure to observe the existing conditions around the use of CCTV cameras had hampered the police investigation into the armed robbery at the store.

Chhaya Suchak, Mr Suchak’s wife and the designated premises superviser, was asked about the licensing objectives but was unable to answer.

Councillor Lizzie Deane, the licensing panel chairman, said: “We have heard evidence from both police and trading standards of persistent breaches of the law in the form of the sale of alcohol to children.

“We have also heard evidence of interventions and support given to the licence holder in the form of advice and training.

“The management has continued to demonstrate a failure to uphold the licensing objectives and in particular the protection of children from harm.

“We have considered the conditions proposed by the licence holder and in view of the previous breaches of conditions … the panel has no confidence in the ability of the current management to uphold these conditions.”

Councillor Deane said that the panel had a duty to act in the interests of the wider community rather than in the interests of the licence holder.

She said that the panel had decided to take a step that was necessary and proportionate, given the serious nature of the problem, by revoking the premises licence.

  1. Paul Perrin Reply

    See – if police apply existing law kids can’t buy booze – simple. So that is one argument for ‘minimum pricing’ blown out of the water…

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