Hatfield off-licence loses booze ban appeal

A WINE shop banned from selling booze has lost its appeal at magistrates’ court.

Hatfield Wine Stores was barred last November after it was found to have stocked smuggled alcohol and the main licensee was convicted of handling stolen goods.

But the shop, which had tried to gain a new licence for the licensee’s wife, appealed Welwyn Hatfield Council’s decision meaning it could continue to serve customers until the magistrates’ court hearing.

Having lost the appeal on April 19, it is no longer able to sell any alcohol.

During the first hearing, police licensing officer Stewart Budd applied for Hatfield Wine Stores on St Albans Road East to be reviewed due to its “blatant disregard for their licence and their responsibilities under the Licensing Act 2003”.

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Mr Budd told Welwyn Hatfield Council’s licensing sub-committee that, since 2004, police had received numerous reports of stolen goods from house burglaries being bought at the shop.

The panel heard in September 2008 police caught staff red-handed in the stockroom exchanging stolen goods for cash, and in March 2009 undercover officers were able to sell goods over the counter to licensee Huseyin Ates.

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Ates was convicted of conspiracy to handle stolen goods and attempted handling of stolen goods in March 2010 and June 2009, respectively.

Mr Budd told the hearing the off-licence was raided by HM Revenue & Customs inspectors in June and 85.5 litres of counterfeit or smuggled spirits and 738 litres of wine were taken.

He said: “Almost immediately the shop was restocked with other non-duty goods.”

By August the Customs inspectors were back and seized 21.7 litres of spirits and 509 litres of wine, although the shop is appealing against this.

Moments before the meeting started the premises licence for the shop and the designated premises supervisor was transferred from Ates to his wife Arzu Yucetas.

Magistrates in Watford upheld the council’s decision to revoke the licence to sell alcohol and ordered Yucetas to pay �2,750 in court costs.

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