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    South London shop under review after underage alcohol and vape sale

    Photo: The Costcutter store on Wickham Lane (Photo: Google via LDRS)

    By: Joe Coughlan, Local Democracy Reporter

    A South London shop is at risk of closure after being caught selling a vape and booze to children in a sting operation.

    The Costcutter store on Wickham Lane is having its licence reviewed after Greenwich Council officers found a trainee member of staff had sold a nicotine vape and can of beer to a pair of teenagers.

    The trainee, Thavaselvan Sithamparapillai, reportedly sold the items to the teenage volunteers on May 30. The store’s current licence allows for alcohol to be sold between 8am and 11pm six days a week and between 10am and 10.30pm on Sundays.

    Council documents said the shop was fined £90 by the police for selling alcohol to a minor, and the store was unable to present a refusals log to council officers when asked. A later meeting with officers reportedly showed that the log had an “unexpectedly low” number of refusals, with only eight entries in nearly seven years.

    Thayalan Punniyamoorthy, the owner of the store, told council officers that he’s at the business every day but was away visiting family during the incident that took place. He claimed that he knew many of the local customers, hence the low number of refusals.

    The owner said that Mr Sithamparapillai did not understand much English so he explained the store’s policy to him verbally in Tamil. He added that the trainee had only been working at the shop for three days when the sale took place, and that he was asked not to return to the business afterwards.

    Mr Sithamparapillai said in his statement of the incident: “The two girls came into the shop, went towards the beer section and came over and asked for the cigarette. It was a busy day and I completely forgot to ask for ID as they seemed to look older than 18.”

    Council documents said that officers wish to resolve the issue by asking the store to open an hour later from Monday to Saturday and comply with a set of conditions including maintaining a CCTV system, training all staff on the sale of alcohol and enforcing a Think 25 proof of age scheme. However, the authority’s licensing sub-committee has the power to remove the current supervisor of the store or order the business to be closed entirely.

    The licence for the Costcutter store on Wickham Lane will be discussed at a licensing meeting for Greenwich Council on October 31. A decision on the licence will be published within five working days of the meeting.

    (LDRS)

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