10:00 Thursday 06 December 2012

Shock as illegal booze store still selling alcohol


A PARISH council has expressed it shock that a village shop is still allowed to sell alcohol despite its owner being convicted of selling illegal booze.


Stretton Village Store
Stretton Village Store

Stretton Parish Council has learned that Stretton Village Store in Main Street, still has a licence to sell alcohol despite its owner, Suman Tharmathurai, being convicted of selling counterfeit and super-strength alcohol.

It was also told that after his licence was revoked for a month by Stafford Magistrates’ Court, he simply put the licence into a different name — which is legal to do — and continued to sell alcohol.

Parish councillor Brian Buxton said: “This is a very serious offence and as a council we need to protect members of the public and the people of Stretton.

“We want to know if (East Staffordshire Borough Council’s) licensing committee has reviewed this shop’s licence to sell alcohol.”

Liz Staples, who represents Stretton on Staffordshire County Council, said it was trading standards who raided the shop, and it was up to the magistrates’ court as to how long the licence was revoked for.

Len Milner, who spoke as a member of the public and not as a borough councillor, said, although he wasn’t on the licensing committee, he had been told that the licence had been put into someone else’s name, rather than a premises licence which, he said, they were allowed to do.

He added: “If someone else on the premises applies for a personal licence then it is still legal to sell alcohol.

“If there are concerns then the borough council and the licensing committee can look into that.”

The court previously heard that 30-year-old Tharmathurai sold bottles of vodka laced with nearly 20 times more alcohol than legally permitted.

He also sold bottles of counterfeit vodka bearing the labels of respected brands, such as Smirnoff and Glen’s.

He was ordered to complete 140 hours’ community service over the next year and pay £1,520 in fines and costs following his prosecution by Staffordshire County Council. He admitted six breaches of trading regulations.

Tests showed the liquid from Red Star Vodka was ‘unfit for human consumption’ because it contained 19 times the legally permitted methanol limit.

Methanol is also used to make anti-freeze and can cause blindness.

The parish council agreed to contact the borough council for reassurance that this cannot happen again.

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