Hatfield wine shop banned from selling booze

A WINE shop has been banned from selling booze, after it was found to stock smuggled alcohol and the main licensee was convicted of handling stolen goods there.

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”.

Mr Budd told Welwyn Hatfield Council’s licensing sub-committee on Wednesday 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.

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

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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.”

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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 Mr Ates to his wife.

After almost an hour’s deliberation, committee chairman John Nicholls revoked the premises licence which will take effect 21 days after the notice is served by Welwyn Hatfield Council.

Mr Dadds said they would appeal.

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