Drink decoys trap Sainsbury's

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The Independent Online
Supermarket giant Sainsbury lost its licence to sell alcoholic drinks at one of its stores after police used youngsters to buy drinks there.

Sainsbury's supermarket at Monks Cross, York, was targeted by police who used 14 and 15-year-olds with the consent of their parents.

At a special licensing meeting at Easingwold Magistrates, North Yorks, the police successfully applied to revoke the store's drinks licences, held by manager Michael Hogsden and deputy Robert Brookes.

The police said girls and boys bought drink, including alcoholic lemonade and rose wine, from the store on three separate occasions. Officers had the approval of licensing justices for the operation.

A video extract of the undercover operation showed two girls, aged 14 and 15, dressed casually with no make up and clutching the wine they had just bought illegally.

Richard Green, for the police, said in no way could the police's methods be condemned because they acted in the public interest.

They investigated Sainsbury after intoxicated teenagers turned up at a nearby disco and annoyed residents. They also received complaints from parents.

He said: "The manager was like the captain of the Titanic and chose to shoot officers and seamen when it was the manager's responsibility for the ship going down."

Mr Hogsden, who has been with Sainsburys for 32 years, admitted the manager must accept responsibility but he could not control how fully trained staff acted all the time.

Two cashiers, one of whom was under 18, were sacked. In granting the police application, licensing bench chairman Bob Eccles said: "We are not satisfied the store exercised due diligence on these occasions."

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