Secret op snared Doncaster off licence selling illicit booze and tobacco

Bargain Beers, Balby Doncaster
Bargain Beers, Balby Doncaster

A Doncaster businessman is to be stripped of his licence to sell alcohol after a trading standards investigation revealed he was selling illicit cigarettes and drink.

A Doncaster Council licencing committee hearing was told Kulwinder Singh Wadhwa's Bargain Beers shop, on Balby Road, was found to be selling illegal cigarettes and alcohol, after a surveillance operation and test purchases.

It also emerged he had previously run a shop 300 yards away, Balby Mini Market on Balby Road, which was caught selling illicit tobacco sales in 2015 when he running it.

Environmental health officer Michael Griffiths had visited Mr Wadhwa in November 2016 to warn him had two 'illicit' traders were thought to be supplying alcohol in mass to of licences across South Yorkshire, and advised him not to become involved with them.

He returned to Bargain Beers again in February to warn Mr Wadhwa that he was buying alcohol from illegal sources and should remove 24 brands of foreign imported and labelled drink that was on sale.

He returned again with a warrant and found about half the drink still in a store cupboard. Mr Wadhwa said he had been confused by the term 'remove the alcohol from the premises' and thought keeping it at the rear of the shop was enough. He refused to say where the rest of the stock was, and 'reluctantly' disposed of what was left during the visit, said Mr Griffiths.

The premises had already been targeted in an operation after concerns had been raised over illicit tobacco sales.

A test purchase had seen 'Amber Leaf' hand rolling tobacco without the correct health warnings sold to a council officer.

They put the shop under surveillance , and saw a shop worker walk to a car parked on Alexandra Avenue and return to the shop. Trading standards officer Greg Bristol said this indicated the illicit tobacco sold in the shop had come from the car, which was registered to Mr Wadhwa.

On March 8, council officers executed a warrant at the shop and seized illicit tobacco and cigarettes from the car. They seized 5,650 cigarettes and 0.45kg of hand rolling tobacco. None of it had the relevant health warnings.

Mr Bristol said: "The attempt to conceal the product is a key factor. Storing illicit tobacco in a vehicle is a common modus operandi."

Mr Wadhwa claimed the tobacco was for personal use and could not explain the sale of the tobacco in the test purchase.

Mr Wadhwa told the committee the tobacco had been sold by another member of staff who no longer worked at the shop.

Committee chairman Ken Keegan said: "The committee has found that alcohol that had been smuggled had been found on the premises and had not been removed recommendations it should be removed, not stored.

"It has also found that illicit tobacco had been sold."

He said the shop had been trading irresponsibly.

Mr Wadhwa has 21 days to appeal before the licence is withdrawn.