A shopkeeper who had a ban slapped on his shop to stop the sale of cigarettes to children blamed foreign staff who were unable to tell the age of “white people”.
Hari Amedi, 34, who owns the Monalisa international food store on Armley Town Street, told Leeds magistrates yesterday (Oct 26) he did not know how he could stop members of staff from selling tobacco to children.
The 34-year-old, who lives at Cross Flats Grove in Beeston, south Leeds, said the biggest problem had been that employees, who are not British-born, have difficulty recognising the age of locals.
Amedi, who represented himself, said in mitigation: “In my job I explained not to sell to people underage but if they do make a mistake I don’t know what I can do.
“I spend one hour every week to tell them not to and told them they are responsible but because they are from a different country they don’t recognise the age of English white people.”
Amedi was found guilty last month at Leeds Magistrates court of the sale of a packet of 10 Superkings to a 14-year-old girl on February 13 in his absence.
It was the third time in 18 months that undercover officers from West Yorkshire Trading Standards had witnessed cigarettes being sold to an underage customer at the Monalisa, said Derek Hallam, prosecuting.
Amedi was told yesterday to empty the shop’s shelves of all tobacco products for a period of six months. He was also fined £335, told to pay £1,496 in court costs and a £15 victim’s surcharge.
Mr Hallam added that while Amedi did not sell the cigarettes to the underage purchasers, he was still responsibile for training staff.
David Marlow, chairman of the bench, said: “We believe the restriction will ensure you get your signage or staff training in place so this doesn’t happen again.”
Amedi previously failed to complete a training seminar offered by West Yorkshire Trading Standards to help with cigarette sales. And he has failed to action the Challenge 21 policy that demands staff check a customer’s proof of age where they appear to be under 21.