A man who illegally sold a pack of 13 knives to a schoolchild has been given a four-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months after a council prosecution.
At Croydon Magistrates’ Court on Thursday 21 March, Raymond Morris, a store employee of Gift Bank in New Addington, was given the suspended sentence, ordered to pay £315 and told he must do 100 hours’ unpaid community work. He had admitted at an earlier hearing the offence of selling a knife product to someone under 18.
Croydon Council decided to prosecute after a trading standards officer saw Mr Morris sell the craft knives at the shop in Central Parade on 15 September 2018 to the 14-year-old girl.
The teenager was a volunteer carrying out underage test purchases for the council as part of regular trading standards checks to ensure businesses are obeying the law on knife sales. Under the Criminal Justice Act 1988 as amended by the Offensive Weapons Act 1996, it is illegal to sell a knife, knife blade, razor blade or axe to anyone under 18.
The court heard on Thursday that the council’s trading standards and Metropolitan Police officers worked together on September’s test purchase after police had given Gift Bank a previous verbal warning in April 2018 for selling a two-piece cutter set to two 13-year-olds in school uniform.
At a previous hearing, District Judge Julie Cooper also heard that, on finding out the girl was an underage buyer, Mr Morris had told her that another customer waiting to be served separately could “be your dad for today”.
Mr Morris, 56, of Horsley Drive in New Addington, was sentenced to four months in prison, suspended for 12 months, and was ordered to pay £315 do 100 hours’ unpaid community work and carry out 19 sessions with Think First, a Home Office-accredited rehabilitation programme for offenders.
The director of Astoria International Limited that owns Gift Bank, Ram Kumar Vijay, 53, of Norwood Road in Southall, who also admitted the same offence at an earlier hearing, will be sentenced on Tuesday 26 March.
Croydon’s trading standards team runs regular free training sessions called Do You Pass that keep businesses up-to-date on the law, best practice and to prevent underage sales of age-restricted products.
Sentencing Mr Morris, District Judge Cooper said: “These are extremely difficult times; knife crime must be managed and, as I said earlier and I haven’t changed my view, this matter does pass the custody threshold.”
For more information on training courses run by Croydon Council’s trading standards team aimed at helping businesses avoid selling restricted products to under-18s, visit the council website.
“Every business that sells a knife to a child is putting people’s safety at risk and breaking the law, and this applies to whoever you are, and however harmless you think the buyer might be.
“This sale was shockingly irresponsible, so it is good that the judge’s sentence has reflected the seriousness of a crime like this. This was excellent work by Croydon Council’s trading standards team, who will continue to protect the public by prosecuting local businesses that fail in their duty to follow the law.”
Councillor Hamida Ali, cabinet member for safer Croydon and communities