A shop in Wallyford has had its off-sales licence suspended following the sale of alcohol to an underage drinker.
Councillors heard the illegal immigrant who served the youngster, while employed at Fa’side Grocers, had since disappeared without trace before charges could be brought.
Following a hearing in Haddington last Thursday, East Lothian Licensing Board voted to suspend the licence for a period of six months.
Police Scotland licensing officers had asked that the shop’s licence be revoked in order to protect children from harm.
Councillors were told that licence holder Sugendran Naicker had only recently taken over the premises when the incident involving his employee took place in August.
Solicitor Alistair Macdonald, representing Mr Naicker, said his client had chosen not to sell alcohol at all while awaiting the outcome of the licence review.
He described the incident as an “absolute catastrophe” for Mr Naicker, who stood to “lose everything” if the licence was removed.
Having paid a significant five-figure sum for the business, he explained that his client had subsequently seen the business hit by the opening of a larger convenience store in the village. On top of this, he said the loss of alcohol sales since August had further impacted on his takings.
While it was not Mr Naicker but his employee who made the sale, Mr Macdonald said his client’s business was going to be tainted by what had happened.
The board heard the business was already running at less than 40 per cent of what he expected when he took over the shop.
After an adjournment by the board to consider its decision, convener Jim Goodfellow told the meeting: “We very seriously considered revoking the licence completely and it was only by a majority decision and using my casting vote that we decided that in this case we will suspend the licence for six months.”
At the end of the six months, he said the police and the council’s own licensing officers would continue to monitor the premises closely for signs of anything “untoward”.
More stories from East Lothian Licensing Board in this week’s Musselburgh News, on sale now.