Shop boss accused of selling kids vodka

Shafqat Syed has been warned previously about selling alcohol to minors
Shafqat Syed has been warned previously about selling alcohol to minors
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A SHOPKEEPER has been accused of turning off his own CCTV system before selling vodka to underage teenagers.

Police said Shafqat Syed intentionally kept his cameras off so they did not capture him selling to under-18s at Tollcross Newsagents and Grocers.

The 32-year-old, who had been warned over a similar incident last year and been subject to complaints from worried parents, has now had his alcohol licence suspended for two months by the city council.

He was also ordered to return before councillors next month to determine whether he can keep his personal licence.

The shopkeeper maintained his innocence and claimed he has been “victimised”.

The city’s licensing board heard how police apprehended two 15-year-old girls on Friday, January 20, after buying bottles of Glen’s Vodka from the store unchallenged.

Inspector Gordon Hunter told the board: “It is the opinion of the reporting officer that Mr Syed purposely fails to operate the CCTV system continuously during trading hours in order to prevent footage of illegal sales of alcohol being recorded and used as evidence against him.”

He added that Mr Syed believed “all complaints to be racially motivated” but when asked to elaborate he was “unable to provide any further explanation or substantial these claims”.

Inspector Hunter added that after the incident on January 20, Mr Syed claimed the shop had been closed, even though officers witnessed the teenagers leaving the premises.

When asked by board member Councillor Eric Barry why he did not have CCTV running 24 hours a day, Mr Syed said the system was faulty and “only stored 36 hours of footage”.

He claimed the system had been inoperable on the afternoon of January 20, but he had managed to fix it prior to officers arriving at the premises.

He also claimed he should not have had to go before the board before a court hearing, which is at an early stage.

Mr Syed had been offered a £100 fixed penalty fine by the procurator fiscal after being charged with selling alcohol to under-18s, but he refused and is expected to challenge the charge in court at a later stage.

Mr Syed, representing himself, said he had been unfairly treated by the board and had not been able to review the evidence. He also claimed he had no small bottles of Glen’s Vodka in his stock at the time.

He said: “I’ve been operating the store for eight years and have never had any problem. I didn’t sell alcohol to anyone under 18. I never have and never will. It’s a disgraceful thing.”

Afterwards, he told the Evening News: “It’s completely unfair that I’ve been targeted in this way. This shop is my livelihood and there is no proper evidence against me. I don’t want anyone else to be victimised the way I have been.”

Councillors heard that Mr Syed had been issued with a warning on May 21 last year after a complaint that two 15-year-old males had purchased alcohol. Police were again called to reports of antisocial behaviour in the area on October 1 and, although he passed a test purchase by a 16-year-old, he was caught in January after a tip-off from a worried parent.

Cllr Marjorie Thomas, convener of the licensing board, told Mr Syed: “We are suspending your premises licence under the protecting children from harm objective and will review your personal licence next month.”