St Albans shop retains alcohol licence despite selling drinks to under-18s

Victoria Off License sold alcohol to underage police cadets.

Victoria Off License sold alcohol to underage police cadets. - Credit: Archant

The owner of a St Albans off-licence has been told that he can keep his licence – despite selling alcohol to under-18s.

Gokham Saglam was caught selling beer to a 16-year-old boy and cider to a 17-year-old girl at Victoria Off License as part of two separate test purchases by Herts police.

Officers had asked St Albans district council Licensing Sub-Committee to review the licence.

On January 24, the committee decided Mr Saglam could continue to sell alcohol at his Victoria Street store because the seven month period between test purchases did not indicate “persistent selling”.

Rather than revoking his licence, the committee opted to impose additional conditions, such as further training, operation of Challenge 25 and installation of 90-day CCTV.

During the hearing the committee heard that the purchase involving the 16-year-old boy – who was 6’3″ – took place in May, when police were acting on specific intelligence relating to six different off-licences.

The boy – a police cadet – was not asked for any ID and was served with beer at the Victoria Off License.

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Six months later a 17-year-old female police cadet also purchased two bottles of cider at the store. Although her driving licence was checked by Mr Saglam, the cider was still sold to her.

Mr Saglam said: “In my opinion I was being vigilant, but I was not being vigilant enough. It was not intentional.”

He told the hearing that following the first purchase he had introduced a number of measures, including Challenge 25, No ID No Sale, and a UV light to help spot a fake ID.

He says he often checks the name on the ID matches an individual’s bank cards – to ensure they are not carrying someone else’s ID.

And although efforts were made to retain fake IDs, he said he did not want to put his family or staff in harm’s way if customers became aggressive.

He told the hearing that he didn’t think the boy was under 18 because of his height and on the second occasion he had “been vigilant, but not vigilant enough”.

“I am sincerely sorry,” he said. “I did not intend to do this, it was a basic error.”

Victoria Off License is not linked to off-licence chain Victoria Wine.