McColl’s in court over underage alcohol sales in Wickham Market and Great Cornard
- Credit: PA
A shop chain with a history of selling alcohol to underage people has been fined a total of £10,000, after two stores were caught three times in a year.
Representatives of Martin McColl Ltd’s Wickham Market and Great Cornard stores appeared at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court as the shops had continued to sell alcohol to youngsters despite warnings by Suffolk Trading Standards.
On one occasion the member of staff who sold the liquor was only 16 years old themselves.
The company pleaded guilty to three charges under section 146 Licensing Act.
Selling alcohol to those underage carries a maximum £5,000 fine.
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The Wickham Market shop was fined £6,000 for two incidents, while the Great Cornard branch was fined £4,000.
McColl Ltd was also ordered to pay £1,618.63 in costs and a £200 victim surcharge.
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Magistrates took into consideration the guilty pleas, and the fact McColl Ltd had co-operated with the investigation.
The company have also reviewed and updated their procedures since the sales took place.
One of the aggravating factors of the case was one of the sellers was only 16 years old and had been using a manager’s till access code at the time of the sales.
Councillor Sarah Stamp, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities said: “Suffolk Trading Standards received intelligence that there had been numerous occasions where underage sales had taken place at the Wickham Market and Great Cornard sites and acted accordingly.
“Retailers know the law and that it is illegal to sell alcohol to anyone under 18 years old.
“Trading Standards advice is to operate a ‘Challenge 25’ policy so anyone who looks under 25 should be asked for ID.
“It is important that action is taken against traders who sell alcohol to children. In particular, those traders who repeatedly break these laws, which are in place to protect these young people associated health risks that underage drinking has on young people.”
Anyone with information about illegal sales of alcohol, tobacco, knives, butane gas or other age-restricted products can inform Trading Standards by contacting the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506.