Redbourn shop set to lose alcohol licence after selling to under 18s

Police are urging St Albans residents to sign up for OWL (Online Watch Link) messages.

Police are urging St Albans residents to sign up for OWL (Online Watch Link) messages. - Credit: Archant

A convenience store in Redbourn is set to lose its licence, after staff sold alcohol to youngsters three times.

As a result of repeated failed test purchases, Hertfordshire Police asked St Albans District Council to take the premises licence away from the Handy Store, on Lybury Lane.

On Tuesday (February 12) the council’s licensing sub-committee agreed to revoke the licence.

Licence holder Lalji Gajipra will now have 21 days to decide whether or not to appeal the decision.

During the hearing, councillors heard that the first test purchase was conducted in May last year, after reports that alcohol was being sold to children from the shop.

On that occasion, two boys, aged 16 and 15, were served with alcohol and cigarettes by Rajan Gajipra – without being asked their age.

During the second test purchase, in November last year, a 17 year-old girl was allowed to purchase alcohol by Divek Gajipra – without being challenged about her age.

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On the third occasion – just days before the licensing hearing – a 16-year-old girl was allowed to buy a bottle of wine from Rajan Gajipra.

On this occasion Rajan did ask if she was under 18 and was presented with the girl’s passport.

But despite the girl’s 2002 year of birth, he still served her with the alcohol – saying to her, ‘you’re just 18’.

During the hearing Robin Sutherland, acting for Mr Gajipra, said Rajan Gajipra had an eye condition for which he had had surgery and which, he said, could cause him some confusion.

He said that while there was no dispute the sale had taken place, it had not been Rajan’s intention to break the law.

Pointing to CCTV that showed the length of time Rajan looked at the passport before making the sale, he said it showed, “somebody who is trying to do the right thing”.

During the hearing Mr Sutherland said Rajan’s father Lalji may not have been aware of the extent of the impact the eye condition on his son.

He said: “I don’t think Mr Rajan Gajipra has been as straight with his family in relation to his eye situation , as well as the concentration element.”

Mr Sutherland told the hearing Rajan had a ‘level 3’ accountancy qualification which would demonstrate the arithmetic in working out an age from a date of birth would not have been a problem – without his health conditions.

When committee member Cllr Malachy Pakenham later asked him to work out the age of someone born in 1973, he gave the wrong answer.

Meanwhile the sub-committee also heard that although Mr Lalji Gajipra had been the licence holder since January 2018, he was not specified as the designated premises supervisor until December.

In taking the decision to revoke the licence, sub-committee chair Cllr Richard Curthoys said they did not consider the suggested conditions would be sufficient to uphold the licensing objectives.