A SHOPKEEPER has been stripped of his booze licence after being caught selling alcohol to two 14-year-old girls.
Sri Lankan-born Kandasamythurai Pathmanathan, who owns Premier Stores at 197 Raby Road, Hartlepool, was also left with a £1,610 court bill after selling a bottle of cherry Lambrini to the teenagers who were acting as test purchasers for Hartlepool Borough Council’s Trading Standards department.
The pair went into the shop, followed by an undercover council officer, who watched them select the bottle of booze and take it to the till.
Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court heard that Pathmanathan served the schoolgirls and did not ask them for any identification – despite a condition of his alcohol licence which states that anyone who looks under 25-years-old must be asked for proof of age.
Tony McNab, prosecuting on behalf of the council, said the girls were asked to wear clothes they would normally wear when carrying out the test purchase operation around 5.30pm on July 11 last year.
He said: “One girl handed the bottle of Lambrini to a male behind the till, and that was Mr Pathmanathan.
“He tried to scan the bottle but the scanner did not work and Mr Pathmanathan asked a second male who was stood by the alcohol display how much the cherry Lambrini cost. He answered and this allowed Mr Pathmanathan to put the price into the till.
“At no point did Mr Pathmanathan or his colleague inquire as to the age of the volunteers or ask for ID.”
In interview, the shop keeper, who moved to Britain 10 years ago, admitted selling the alcohol but said he believed the girls were over 25-years-old.
He pleaded guilty to one count of selling alcohol otherwise than in accordance with his licence.
Mitigating, John Ellwood, said “cultural differences” meant his client – who was accompanied in court by an interpreter – struggled to decipher the age of “white” girls.
He said: “He rarely mixes with anyone outside of his family.
“His daughter is aged 19 and his impression was that she looked much younger than the other two girls because she is much slimmer and shorter. It is though, his obligation to learn how to determine the age of people outside of his own culture.”
He added: “Due to cultural differences he was almost inevitably going to fall foul of the law.”
A relative of the defendant has now “taken the reins”, and holds the licence.
Chairman of the bench John Jenkins forfeited Pathmanathan’s licence, which means he cannot apply for a new one for five years, fined him £600, ordered him to pay £950 costs and a £60 victim surcharge.