Landlady loses licence after knowingly serving children

Susan Stoker, landlady of the Royal Mail Cart in Spalding, has had her premises licence revoked by South Holland District Council. Photo (TIM WILSON): SG220811-132TW
Susan Stoker, landlady of the Royal Mail Cart in Spalding, has had her premises licence revoked by South Holland District Council. Photo (TIM WILSON): SG220811-132TW
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A PUB landlady accused of ushering underage teenagers into a back room to drink and “briefing” them on what to do if they were caught has had her licence revoked.

Royal Mail Cart landlady Susan Stoker lost her licence after “quite astonishing” evidence was put forward by Lincolnshire Police, which included reports from concerned parents about what was happening at the pub.

Solicitor Andrew Heeler said Mrs Stoker “strenuously denied” serving underage children at the hearing on Friday, but she failed to win the backing of South Holland District Council’s licensing panel.

Daniel Richardson, representing Lincolnshire Police, accused Mrs Stoker of not being concerned with her licensing objectives but “with making a quick buck” following a string of incidents throughout the year.

He said the “serious and flagrant” breaches had come from the highest level of management at the pub on Pinchbeck Road, Spalding.

Mr Richardson told how two 15-year-olds sent by Trading Standards had almost been served on October 7. In a statement from officer Heather Bellamy, he said the test purchase operation was called off when she became concerned the teenagers had been taken out of sight.

He said the teens described a woman claiming to be the landlady said she was “quite happy” to serve them and that she had asked their ages. They also said they felt she was briefing them on what to do if the police came in.

Mr Richardson said: “This is a quite astonishing piece of evidence of contact with the licence holder. Not only does the licence holder inquire about their age, she briefs them on how to act should the police arrive.”

Mrs Stoker failed a second test operation on October 28.

The panel was told Mrs Stoker had breached her licence in April with an outdoor event, despite being warned against it by council licensing officers four days earlier.

Traces of cocaine were also found in the male toilet cubicle during another visit by police in November.

Mr Heeler said Mrs Stoker “did not recall” the incident involving the two teenagers on the first test purchase operation and accepted her wrongdoing in the second.

Mr Heeler said Mrs Stoker accepted the seriousness of her position and had taken a “long, hard look” at her future and put the pub up for sale.

He said she had faced difficulties with her husband being in hospital and she faced financial pressure from Enterprise Inns, with whom she holds the lease.

Mrs Stoker has 21 days to appeal the decision.