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    Shopkeeper warned after pulling out knife during argument with ‘racist’ customer

    Photo: iStock

    By Donald Turvill, Local Democracy Reporter

    An Edinburgh shopkeeper who pulled out a kitchen knife during an argument with a “racist” customer has been issued with a warning.

    Rajan Patel was hauled before the licensing board after he was caught on CCTV taking the blade out from behind the counter during the heated exchange last year, which he admitted was a “mistake”.

    Police said he was “pointing it downwards” and did not brandish it towards the man but criticised the shop owner for having a “shocking disregard for public safety”.

    Mr Patel claimed the customer had subjected him and other staff to “racist abuse” over several months and the knife was used to encourage him to leave the store as he felt threatened.

    A councillor described the events as “really shocking” and said: “We are not the wild west – we are not the sort of place where you keep a shotgun behind the bar. That is completely unacceptable.”

    Detailing the incident at Nairne Convenience Store on November 1 last year, Sgt Barry Mercer said the man entered and “an argument ensued where Mr Patel was animated, waving his hands before pulling out a kitchen knife from below the counter”.

    He said: “Mr Patel held the knife in his right hand, pointing it downwards but he did not brandish the knife towards the male. The male was standing still and his body language did not appear to be aggressive.

    “This is not a multi tool or a box cutter used for packaging – this is a large bladed kitchen knife.”

    On seeing the blade, the customer “backed away, brought his mobile phone out and started filming the incident,” Sgt mercer told the board. “On seeing this Mr Patel put the knife back under the counter.

    “The customer left the premises and reported the incident to the police.”

    Mr Patel then called the police to report that the man was “racially abusive” however later confirmed to officers he was not racially abused.

    Upon being subsequently arrested and charged shortly afterwards, he told the police officers “I did that to protect myself”.

    He was reported to the procurator fiscal and on November 17 the matter was concluded with “no further proceedings” in relation to the case. 

    Sgt Mercer said: “Regardless of the fact the fiscal has not proceeded with the criminal case, we believe that the licence holder, Mr Patel, has showed disregard for licensing objectives – preventing crime and disorder and securing public safety.

    “The fact there’s been a knife stored below the counter of the shop is worrying in itself, the fact it was then produced during an argument causes further concern.

    “There’s been a shocking disregard for public safety, the safety of other patrons and Mr Patel’s own safety as well with possession of this large knife.”

    Mr Patel apologised to the board and stressed there was “no intent of hurting him”. He said over the over the course of the preceding six month period the man was “being racist” toward him and his staff.

    During the incident in question, he claimed the man said he was “going to get a bunch of people and I’m going to see you outside”.

    He said: “He was being aggressive to me and my staff as well, it was happening since long time.

    “This is my only source to feed my family and I fully cooperated with the police. This is the mistake I done, I know. I never tried to destroy CCTV footage or anything. This is my mistake that has happened but I assure you this is the first and last time this has happened.

    “As soon as I realised I made the mistake I put the knife back there. I was pictured holding the knife, the reason it was there was not for attacking anybody.”

    Councillor Chas Booth said: “This was a really shocking incident; we are not the wild west – we are not the sort of place where you keep a shotgun behind the bar. That is completely unacceptable.

    “If there was a history of really difficult customers potentially breaching the law in terms of racial abuse, you should have been on the phone to the police and the fact you weren’t is a cause for concern.”

    Councillor Catherine Fullerton said she was “still puzzled why a big kitchen knife was under your counter”.

    She added: “Do you realise how dangerous that was – anything could have happened… blood could have been spilled. To do that is just not the right thing for a licence holder to do.”

    Mr Patel replied: “When I asked him to leave the shop he was standing there and the word he was using – that’s why I got a bit more angry, and by mistake I grabbed and the knife came in hand. I never raised on him because I never do those things in my life.”

    Sgt Mercer said: “I would argue a kitchen knife with a four of five inch blade is not a practical item for a convenience store. It may have been there for several years as well.”

    Licensing board chair Councillor Louise Young said: “Mr Patel you should have been phoning the police to report these incidents of racial abuse.

    “I sadly feel that perhaps when this kind of thing can happen too often you just try and ignore it. Sadly, it can start to happen too often and you start to accept it as part of life and that’s not how it should be.

    “But there are lots of other ways that would have been better to deal with that incident. I do believe it was an instinctive reaction to feeling threatened and wanting this person to leave from his property.

    “However I don’t really want to penalise a person for making a very bad decision on one day and on moment that thankfully did not go on to have very severe consequences. And as Mr Patel points out at no point was he brandishing the knife towards the individual. This was a visual deterrent I believe, as much as that is still serious.”

    The board issued a written warning on the store’s premises licence and endorse Mr Patel’s personal licence. A further two endorsements in the next five years would result in it being automatically revoked.


    (Local Democracy Reporting Service)

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