The owner of an Edinburgh shop which sold booze to a 13-year-old girl who wound up in hospital has been told he can keep selling alcohol after the council let him off with a warning.
The sale by West Pilton’s Day-Today last summer led to the teenager being hospitalised.
Police consequently called for a review by councillors of owner and manager Adnan Jaffery’s premises licence.
However, the sale was described as a “one-off” mistake caused by inexperienced staff being left in charge.
Detailing the incident from last August Sgt. Barry Mercer from Police Scotland told the licensing board the girl “asked for two bottles of alcohol” which the shopkeeper “scanned through the till and placed them in a white carrier bag”.
He added: “At no point in the interaction was she asked for age verification, she wasn’t challenged how old she was.
“Over the course of the next few hours the girl and her friends consumed the alcohol along with other alcohol they managed to obtain and at about 8.30pm at Ocean Terminal the girl’s mother and ambulance services were called because the girl had collapsed due to the amount of alcohol she had taken.
“She was taken to the Royal Infirmary where she was admitted and kept for five hours for observation.”
Sgt. Mercer said during a follow-up inspection by licensing officers there was an “excess amount of alcohol on display” and no training records for the staff member who approved the under-age sale could be found on record.
However Mr Jaffery’s lawyer, Alistair MacDonald, said the employee – who had since resigned from the job – had been properly trained.
“There was a training certificate but it wasn’t in the shop,” he said. “He served the person, made a mistake.”
Mr MacDonald said after viewing the CCTV footage he thought the youngster “looks older than 13″.
He said: “Whether she looks 18 is questionable when she certainly doesn’t look 25, so she should have been challenged.
“The only explanation he [the staff member] gave at all was that he thought it was someone he had ID’d previously and she had shown ID before.”
He said his client was “distraught” and stressed it was the first time the store had been reported to the police in his 21 years in charge.
“It’s his only source of family income and he’s operated the place really well during that time,” he added.
“He apologises to anybody, it will never happen again.”
Mr MacDonald asked the board to “accept this was a one-off issue”.
Councillor Chas Booth called the incident “extremely serious”.
He said: “I’ve got the kids about the same age and if I was the parent of this young person I would be absolutely horrified and angry this had been allowed to happen.
“But the person who was responsible for this is not sitting in front of us and if we were to take punitive action today that wouldn’t be justice that would be retribution.”
Councillor Cathy Fullerton backed suspending the shop’s licence for at least four weeks “to ensure that no such incidents happen again”.
She said: “Alcohol was purchased by a 13-year-old girl. Whether she looked 13 or not…is quite irrelevant.
“Mr Jaffrey is the premises licence holder. No matter what anybody else says, he is responsible for what goes on in his shop and as a result he’s contravening many of the conditions of his licence.
“The damage to that child could have been far more serious than it was.”
Convener Louise Young said there had been “a very serious consequence as a result of poor decision making”.
She said: “Ultimately by allowing two inexperienced members of staff to be in charge of the store with an availability of alcohol, as a result that child went to hospital.”
She added: “I think it does warrant a warning.”
Councillors voted 4-2 against suspending Mr Jaffrey’s licence, instead issuing a written warning and including a condition the store should have one staff member with at least a years’ experience on duty during hours when alcohol is sold.
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