Jigminkumar Gandhi and Kartavya Patel, residents of Huddersfield, were brought before Kirklees Magistrates Court on the 28th of November 2023 for the unlawful sale of alcohol to a 15-year-old at Go Local, Close Hill Lane Stores, 62a Close Hill Lane, Huddersfield, HD4 6JY. Mr. Gandhi, the proprietor of the establishment, and his employee, Mr. Patel, were both found guilty of violating the Licensing Act 2003.
Despite Mr. Gandhi pleading not guilty, the Magistrates deemed him culpable and imposed a fine of £369. Additionally, he was directed to pay a surcharge of £148 and cover costs amounting to £900. On the other hand, Mr. Patel admitted guilt, resulting in him being fined £246. He was also instructed to pay a surcharge of £98 and meet costs of £600.
West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service (WYTSS) was already familiar with the business, having received a complaint about the sale of alcohol to minors on the premises.
In September 2022, an underage volunteer, supervised by a Trading Standards Officer, entered the shop attempting to purchase alcohol. Successfully acquiring a can of Gin and Tonic (5% alcohol) for £1.69 without being questioned about her age or asked for identification constituted an offense, as it is illegal to sell alcohol to individuals under the age of 18.
Subsequently, Mr. Gandhi was interviewed. During the discussion, he admitted to providing verbal training on age-restricted products to his employee. However, he conceded that this might not have been adequate, leading to the unlawful sale. Mr. Gandhi asserted that he now conducts regular training for his employees, which is documented. He expressed sincere regret for the incident.
David Strover, Trading Standards Manager – Business Services Team said, “the flagrant sale of alcohol to children should not be happening within our communities. We wrote to this business to make them aware of a complaint we had received and informed them a test purchase may follow. The health risks associated with alcohol misuse are considerable and shops need to ensure they have systems in place to avoid selling alcohol to minors. Trading Standards will continue to investigate allegations and make test purchases to reduce the prevalence of this issue. I would like to thank all the partners and members of the public for reporting illegal sales of age-restricted goods to children.”
Councillor Melanie Jones, Chair of the West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee which oversees the work of Trading Standards said, “Drinking alcohol can damage a child’s health, even if they’re 15 or older. It can affect the normal development of vital organs and functions, including the brain, liver, bones and hormones.”
Consumers wishing to report unlawful trading practices, including the sale of age-restricted goods to children, can anonymously contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline at 0808 223 1133 to voice their concerns.