A Sleaford shop can no longer sell alcohol after having its licence revoked for carrying out under-the-counter sales of illegal and counterfeit cigarettes.
Following an initial decision by the North Kesteven District Council Licencing Sub-committee last September to revoke Baltic Foods’ licence, owner Lina Dumalake appealed against the outcome.
But in a hearing on January 6 at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court, District Judge Peter Veits supported the committee’s action saying ‘it was the right decision at the time and it is right now’.
He said the breaches of the licence had been serious and motivated solely for profit and that the council’s decision was correct and proportionate.
Both the initial sub-committee and the court heard that the police and trading standards had carried out test purchases at Baltic Foods in White Hart Mews, Sleaford, over the preceding six months where they had been sold cigarettes made solely for the black-market and smuggled in to the country and fake cigarettes which did not met required safety standards.
They said there were inherently serious fire risks in such dangerous products which were not designed to self-extinguish as genuine market cigarettes are.
Ironically the shop did not sell genuine cigarettes, only illegal, counterfeit ones through a covert operation at half the retail price of genuine products, from black sacks behind the counter, according to police and trading standards.
Mrs Dumalake initially claimed it was her sister who made the sales, but she did not bring her to court to prove her case, which Judge Veits dismissed. Her solicitor said she was remorseful and that as staff had since received training it would not happen again.
After the hearing Coun Richard Wright, NKDC’s Executive Board Member for enforcement, said this was a good result for broader public safety, although he was disappointed that license holder Mrs Dumalake was ordered to pay only £500 towards the council’s legal costs of £950.
He praised the police and county trading standards officers for their coordinated approach and the licensing sub-committee for its sound judgment.