A Brighton off-licence and store has been given a reprieve from closure.
Tipple in Queen’s Road, Brighton, had its licence revoked in December after being caught selling illicit wine and vodka.
But the licensee, Koray Tatlidede, of Addison Road, Hove, appealed against the decision which would effectively have closed his business.
And at Brighton Magistrates’ Court today (Monday 16 April) a compromise agreement was reached which involved a three-month suspension of the premises licence.
Nick Perkins, Tipple’s solicitor, told the court that the revocation was unnecessary and disproportionate.
The panel heard that Tipple was found to be selling fake Jacob’s Creek in March last year – and Glens vodka on which duty did not appear to have been paid.
A visit in July found almost 250 bottles of fake or smuggled vodka, including 42 bottles of Troika vodka and 204 bottles of Admiral vodka.
The Admiral vodka was sent for analysis and found to contain high levels of methanol.
Separately Revenue and Customs seized 552 bottles of wine after Mr Tatlidede could not provide invoices for them to show that duty had been paid.
He was also running another off-licence – Booze Factor in Lewes Road – where there were no reported problems.
The three-month suspension of the premises licence is due to take effect at midnight and will run until Sunday 15 July.
In December the licensing panel chairman, Councillor Ollie Sykes, said: “Availability of counterfeit and illicit alcohol is a huge problem in Brighton and Hove and counters directly the licensing objective of prevention of crime and disorder.
“Issues of traceability of alcohol remain and in addition to this it is the responsibility of the premises licence holder to take steps to ensure he/she is not selling counterfeit or illicit alcohol.
“The Secretary of State’s guidance lists certain criminal activity which may arise in connection with licensed premises which it is considered should be treated particularly seriously.
“This list includes the use of the premises for the sale of smuggled alcohol and the guidance indicates that revocation is appropriate even in the first instance of a breach of this nature.
“It is the panel’s duty to take steps to promote the licensing objectives in the interests of the wider community and not those of the individual premises licence holder.
“We have considered all the options open to us, in particular the suspension of the premises licence for a limited period.
“From the evidence we have heard today, the panel does not have the confidence in the premises licence holder’s ability to promote the licensing objectives and has therefore decided in this instance that it is necessary to revoke the premises licence.”
But Mr Tatlidede has since undergone training to learn how better to identify duty stamps to reduce the chances of inadvertently buying fake or smuggled drinks.
Mr Perkins had set out mitigating circumstances for the previous shortcomings. He said that Mr Tatlidede’s mother had been ill with cancer.
One of the problem cases was related to a delivery by a wholesaler called Always 4 U.
The owner, Salvatore Capuano, 34, of Palmeira Avenue, Hove, was convicted in December and February of licensing offences and had his personal licence revoked.
In court today the council accepted a willingness on Mr Tatlidede’s part to co-operate in supporting the council’s licensing objectives.