A shop has been refused a licence to serve alcohol after its previous owner fled to Iraq following a raid last year which found foreign tobacco on site.
M&M Mini Market in Halliwell Road, Bolton has had three temporary events notices rejected by Bolton Council due to concerns over “crime and disorder”.
The new owner of the shop, Shwan Adami, had applied for a temporary licence until mid-August while he waited for his full premises licence to be approved.
He bought the business for £5,000 from the former owner who was found guilty of three offences related to the possession for supply of illegal hand rolling tobacco and cigarettes, fined £100 and ordered to pay £1,250 in costs.
But councillors questioned why Mr Adami did not attend the licensing hearing himself as his legal representative could not confirm whether he had any connections to the old owner or had previously worked at the premises.
Nick Semper, from The Licensing Guys, who spoke on behalf of Mr Adami at the virtual meeting on Friday, said former owner Pulla Ahmed returned to Iraq and has not been seen since he sold the business six weeks after being fined.
He said: “It is Mr Pulla Ahmed who committed these offences, not Mr Shwan Adami, and certainly not the bricks and mortar of the premises as the fabric of the building can commit no offences themselves.
“You should not be persuaded to penalise this applicant for the failings of another time, outside his knowledge and beyond his control.
“You have not heard one word of evidence against the applicant Mr Adami.
“You cannot fail to see that to refuse him on the grounds of the failings of another cannot be right or indeed even lawful.”
But licensing officer Patricia Clyne raised suspicions that the new owner has continued to sell alcohol despite not holding a personal licence until July.
She said: “The original licence was revoked due to poor management of the shop by the previous owner and I would suggest Mr Adami is demonstrating poor management of the business by not having a licence in place to allow him to sell alcohol or anybody in the shop that would actually authorise the sale of alcohol, even though he would have knowledge, because the notices were clearly displayed at the shop.”
Mr Semper said there was no evidence to suggest his client was involved in selling illicit tobacco or has continued to sell alcohol since buying the shop.
He urged the committee to make its decision based on the evidence before them, which included a representation from police which said approval would undermine the licensing objective of the prevention of crime and disorder.
The licensing sub-committee rejected the temporary events notices.
An application for a full premises licence is expected to be considered in the coming weeks.