www.Derbyshire.gov.uk 19 October 2009
Supermarket giant Sainsbury’s has been fined £15,000 for selling alcohol to under 18’s following an investigation by Derbyshire County Council. The company was found guilty at Chesterfield Magistrates Court of five charges under the Licensing Act 2003. It was also fined a total of £450 for two further charges under the act for knowingly allowing a person under the age of 18 to sell alcohol and of failing to prominently display an up to date summary of its licence. The case was brought following spot-checks carried out by Trading Standards and Derbyshire Police at Sainsbury stores in Dronfield and Swadlincote.
On May 19 2007 at the Dronfield store two 15 year old volunteers were sold a total of 28 bottles and 12 cans of lager on three separate occasions and were not challenged about their age or asked for any identification. On each occasion the cashier who sold them the alcohol was also under the age of 18. Cashiers under the age of 18 can only sell alcohol if the sale is approved by a responsible person over 18 who is nominated by the business to supervise them. On 8 March 2008 at the Swadlincote store a further test purchase exercise was carried out involving two 16 year old volunteers. They were able to buy 6 bottles of lager and 8 cans of cider during two separate visits – although they were refused on a third occasion.
For both successful purchases neither was asked about their age or required to show any identification and the cashiers on both occasions were also under the age of 18 and did not clearly seek approval from a responsible person. Sainsbury’s was ordered to pay £29,832 in costs and a victim surcharge of £15 following Friday’s hearing before a district judge.
In a separate case a trader from Chesterfield was also prosecuted successfully by Derbyshire County Council for selling alcohol to under age volunteers. Ashlea Trading Company Ltd has three shops, Ashlea General Stores on Ashlea Green in Clowne, Select and Save at Inkersall and Barlborough General Store on the High Street, Barlborough. In June 2008 under-age volunteers successfully bought alcohol at Ashlea General Store and in February 2009 at the Barlborough Store.
The company and one of its directors, Kuldip Mehat, pleaded guilty at Chesterfield Magistrates Court on 15 October. They were fined a total of £2,622, with costs of £4,140 and a victim surcharge of £30. Councillor Carol Hart, the county council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, said: “These cases send out a strong warning to retailers, that regardless of their size, we will always prosecute if they break the law.”