The sale of a large craft knife to two teenagers cost a Thornton Heath trader more than £5,000 in fine and costs when he admitted the illegal transaction to Croydon magistrates.
The court was told that Croydon Council trading standards officers (TSOs) had written to the MGK Express premises in High Street, inviting staff to attend a free Do You Pass? course, at which advice and instruction would be given regarding the laws around age-related sales.
The letter to the business also advised that test purchasing exercises would be conducted in the area. Two days later, TSOs, police and two volunteer test purchasers aged 15 and 14 visited the shop, which continued to display the name of the previous business, K&K Bargains.
On instruction, the volunteers entered the shop, selected a large craft knife and took it to the counter. Without challenge from the sales assistant, they paid £1.50 for the knife and left the shop.
The assistant told officers that the company’s sole director, Gholam Kader, was not present at the time. Over the following months, Kader declined a number of requests for him to attend interviews, eventually agreeing to answer, via his solicitor, questions posed in a formal letter.
On September 20, he told the court that the assistant who sold the knife had been instructed not to make any sales, and that the store – which specialises in kitchenware, tools and DIY goods – had now stopped selling “those items”.
A fine of £5,000 was reduced to £3,400 because of his early plea; costs of £1,800 and a victim surcharge of £120 took the financial penalty to £5,320.
Kader said that he was considering winding up the company because the business was failing, leaving him with no money. He asked to pay the penalty in instalments but was told by the bench that the fine was against the company, not him as an individual, and the account must be settled within 28 days.
Councillor Hamida Ali, cabinet member for communities, safety and justice
“Sadly, this is yet another example of a trader, possibly through ignorance of his responsibilities and the law, illegally selling a potentially deadly knife to under-age customers.
“The crime is exacerbated by the company failing to accept the invitation to send members of staff to a free, accredited course, run by the council’s trading standards department, that’s specifically designed to prevent this sort of error being made by untrained sales assistants.
“The court has realised the seriousness of the offence and levied a fine which, allied to the costs, amounts to a substantial penalty that will make this trader – and, it’s hoped, others – consider their actions in future.”
Do You Pass? retailer training sessions are available, free of charge, to small and medium-sized Croydon-based businesses, helping traders to understand the law and their age-related sales obligations. Each session runs for approximately two hours and 45 minutes, and includes a 30-minute multiple-choice exam. The next sessions will be held on Thursday 27 October, in Bernard Weatherill House, Mint Walk, Croydon. To book a place, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 8407 1311.