COUNCILLORS have cracked down hard on a Huddersfield shop – overturning a deal struck between the owners and police.
Kirklees Council yesterday suspended the licence of Jat’s Superstore on Nabcroft Rise, Crosland Moor, after untaxed cigarettes, beer and wine were found.
The move came despite a deal between the store’s owners and police, which would have allowed the shop to continue selling alcohol.
Police and customs officers discovered untaxed goods at the 24-hour shop on December 12.
Officers also seized alcohol from the home of licence-holder Shamim Akhtar – after seeing two men removing cases of beer from the back of her house.
Pc Richard Farrand told the council’s Licensing Panel yesterday how he discovered 180 untaxed Ju Ling cigarettes in a handbag belonging to Mrs Akhtar.
Officers also found another 2,200 untaxed cigarettes in a Toyota Hiace, which was parked outside the shop.
Officers also seized 72 bottles of Italian wine and 24 litres of beer, on which no duty had been paid.
Pc Farrand and his colleagues then went with Mrs Akhtar to her home at Springdale Avenue in Thornton Lodge.
He described how the licence-holder delayed officers from entering the house by saying she didn’t have a key.
Officers went to the back of the house where they disturbed two men removing cases of beer out of the back kitchen window.
Police found 25 cases of untaxed beer, including Carling, Stella and Fosters, at Mrs Akhtar’s home. They also seized 55 bottles of wine, on which no duty had been paid.
Overall, officers recovered goods worth £811 in tax during the visits to Mrs Akhtar’s home and shop.
John Coen, solicitor for Mrs Akhtar and her husband Zakir Mehmood, explained how the untaxed goods ended up in their shop.
“A gentleman offered these goods for sale because his own shop was closing down,” said Mr Coen.
“Mr Mehmood purchased the stock, he paid cash and there was no paperwork. There was a promise that the paperwork would be supplied but it never was.
“With the benefit of hindsight it was an incredibly unwise purchase to make.”
Mr Coen added that the 2,200 cigarettes found in the Toyota Hiace were not intended for sale.
He said: “Mr Mehmood does smoke and the cigarettes were for his personal use. Mr Mehmood smokes 40 a day and his friend smokes 60.”
Mr Coen also denied that Mrs Akhtar had tried to delay officers entering her home on December 12.
“She didn’t appreciate at the time that she had the keys. She assumed her son had them,” he said.
“Upon checking further, she found she had the keys on her person.”
The solicitor also denied that his client had “tipped off” the men seen removing beer from the back of her house when police visited.
Mr Coen and Pc Farrand informed councillors of an agreement they had reached, which would have allowed the shop to sell alcohol from 7am to midnight, rather than the current 24-hour licence.
However, the three-strong panel rejected the compromise.
Chairman Clr Adrian Murphy told Mrs Akhtar and Mr Mehmood: “This was a very serious situation which should never have happened.”
The panel suspended the shop’s licence for three months.
When the suspension is complete, the store will be allowed to sell alcohol from 11am to 10pm.
Mrs Akhtar and Mr Mehmood can continue selling alcohol for the next three weeks while they decide whether to appeal against the suspension.