The owner of a Spalding off licence today lost his right to sell alcohol on the premises – just 24 hours after having his licence revoked for another property in town. (See yesterday’s report here)
A panel of South Holland District Council’s licensing authority stripped Winsover Off Licence of its licence on Thursday, and today dished out the same treatment to Baltic Off Licence. Mr Karwan Ahmad was licence holder for the properties, both in Winsover Road.
There is now a 21 day appeal process after which, if no appeal is submitted, the revocation comes into action.
The panel sitting this morning heard there is no dispute from Mr Ahmad that criminal activity had been taking place at Baltic after 11,880 smuggled foreign cigarettes were found by a trained tobacco detection dog in highly sophisticated concealed electronic units on December 2.
The counterfeit cigarettes, found in a joint raid by Trading Standards and Lincolnshire Police after a public tip-off, were potentially dangerous and non-duty paid products.
The panel heard they were neither dusty nor damp which made Mr Ahmad’s explanation that the thousands of pounds worth of products had been left by the previous owner prior to him taking over in Ocober highly unlikely.
This was a sophisticated attempt to avoid detection; false walls and cavities had been built, and then filled with cigarettesSergeant Kim Enderby, from the Alcohol Licensing Department of Lincolnshire Police
Even if it were to be accepted that he was not responsible for the contraband cigarettes, the panel concluded it was apparent that he has failed to comply with licensing conditions, failed to spend enough time at the premises and also failed to promptly arrange for the training of what he claimed were new staff.
The panel felt it could have no confidence in the management of these premises and given that Mr Ahmad has held a personal licence for several years and has been involved in running several premises they thought it astonishing that even simple compliance such as signage and log books had not been adhered to.
In revoking the licence, the panel said: “It is not the role of this panel to decide who is responsible for the criminality, but Police and Trading Standards investigations are ongoing. The panel does not have to wait for the outcome of these investigations in order to take steps to protect the community.”
Sergeant Kim Enderby, from the Alcohol Licensing Department of Lincolnshire Police, said: “We had raided and discovered cigarettes at Winsover Off Licence, which is over the road from this premises.
“During the raid we discovered paperwork linking the two stores, so crossed the road and conducted a search of The Baltic Store. In two separate stock rooms at the rear of the store, we found elaborate electronic hides built into the walls. These were found to contain thousands of illegal cigarettes.
“This was a sophisticated attempt to avoid detection; false walls and cavities had been built, and then filled with cigarettes. Fortunately we are now experienced in the detection of concealments of this type.
“This is the sixth licence to be revoked in the county this year, sending a clear message that criminal behaviour of any type will not be tolerated. We remain committed to the disruption, investigation and prosecution of all criminal behaviour being conducted on our licensed premises.”