A Grantham store has been refused an alcohol licence because of concerns over illicit sales of tobacco.
Mario’s Food Store, in London Road, was refused its alcohol application by South Kesteven District Council. The Alcohol Licensing Team from Lincolnshire Police submitted paperwork objecting to the application, following concerns that the store was already involved in the illicit sale of smuggled tobacco products.
On Thursday, January 10, a hearing was held at SKDC licensing sub-committee. After hearing the evidence presented by the police, the committee agreed that the premises had been actively involved in the illegal sale of illicit cigarettes. Because of this they believed the licensing objectives would be undermined and the licence application was refused.
The store made an application to sell alcohol from 7am to midnight seven days a week. On receiving the application the police liaised with the applicant but quickly became concerned that attempts were being made to conceal who was behind the application and their link to criminal activity.
Sgt Kim Enderby from the alcohol licensing team said: “Once we received the application we began to do a bit of digging. We quickly became aware that the applicant, Mr Mansour Farag and his business partner had links to a shop at 9 Wharf Road, Grantham. This store has repeatedly come to the attention of police, Trading Standards and HMRC because of its involvement in the illegal sale of smuggled cigarettes over a number of years. We were able to show the committee that both Farag and his associate had strong connections to the store throughout the time that illegal cigarettes were being sold there. There had been a deliberate attempt to mislead the police and council as to who was actually behind the new application.
“Because of our concerns we organised a plainclothes test purchase operation which was carried out on December 14 2017. We targeted both the store at 9 Wharf Road and Mario’s Food Store at 22 London Road. Both stores sold a packet of illegal cigarettes to the plainclothes operative. We were able to present this evidence to the licensing sub-committee and their decision to refuse this application sends a clear message to those persons involved in the sale of smuggled goods.
“If your store is already licensed there is a real chance your licence will be revoked and any business that can be shown to be involved in criminal activity or behaviour that undermines the licensing objectives will not be successful in any attempt to obtain a licence. Both these stores were found to be actively involved in selling illicit cigarettes. Lincolnshire Police will continue to target those criminals involved in the trade of illegal cigarettes. We remain committed to preventing activity like this on licensed premises.
“I would appeal to members of the public who are aware of stores selling dangerous and illegal products to come forward with the information. We remain committed to the disruption, investigation and prosecution of all criminal behaviour being conducted on our licensed premises.”