Presentation by the Principal Licensing
The Committee was
informed that this was an application for a review of the current
licence. The Sub-Committee’s
attention was drawn to Chapters 2, 3, 9, 10,11 of the Statutory
Guidance and to Sections 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 , 13 and 19 of
the Statement of Licensing Policy, as the ones particularly
relevant to this application. The
options available to the Sub-Committee were set out in paragraphs
5.10 of the report on pages 30 of the agenda papers.
Licensing Officer’s presentation was made under item
Presentation by the Applicant
Comny, Lambeth Trading Standards,
informed the Sub-Committee that:
Following his presentation, he wanted to invite the
Sub-Committee to consider revocation.
If members were not minded to revoke the premises licence, then he
would be willing to suggest additional conditions.
This was a review application of a Romanian grocery
There had been suspicion that the premises, licensed
by Lambeth to sell alcohol, engaged in selling foreign UK Duty not
paid tobacco. The tobacco also lacked
the appropriate health warnings.
On 2 March 2016, following a planned operation using
a tobacco sniffer dog, a rucksack was found hidden underneath and
behind the deli counter filled with tobacco. Without the dog, the tobacco would not have been
Smuggling tobacco was regarded as a criminal
business as cheap and foreign tobacco was sold without HMRC duty
being paid. This also denied the UK of
funds and revenue that supported the infrastructure of schools,
education and hospitals.
Car keys were found at the premises which opened a
car nearby. In the boot of the car, a
large amount of illicit tobacco was found.
No one at the premises admitted ownership of the
tobacco. The Designated Premises
Supervisor, Mr Buzatu, was the only
employee that admitted speaking English, although there were seven
staff members that also appeared to in work shop.
An examination of the premises licence displayed in
the shop showed Mr Sarbu and
Mr Buzatu, as joint Premises
Licence Holders and Mr Buzatu as the
Designated Premises Supervisor.
However, when challenged on this, Mr Buzatu appeared unaware of his position and
responsibilities under the Licensing Act.
Enquiries regarding the ownership of the vehicle
proved unsuccessful. A notice pursuant
to Section 17 of the (Greater London Council) (general powers) Act
1972 was sent to the person identified as the registered owner but
no response had been received.
Mr Sarbu and Mr
Buzato had been charged with possession
of the tobacco lacking UK health warnings and possessing smuggled
goods at the premises, totalling eight charges.
Mr Sarbu offered to
plead guilty to all charges which was accepted and the case against
Mr Buzato did not proceed.
Mr Sarbu was fined
The owner of the car who failed to attend court was
fined £760 for his absence.
19 bottles of spirits without the necessary HRMC
duty stamp had also been found at the premises.
A failed underage test purchase occurred at the
premises on 3 August 2016.
He had no doubt that the premises at that time was a
place of criminal activity that had smuggled tobacco and alcohol
without duty being paid on them.
On referring to S182 of the Home Office Guidance
regarding the Licensing Act (issued on 7 April 2017),
the Legal Adviser to the Sub-Committee
confirmed that the guidance did not affect the
application. Applications submitted
prior to 7 April 2017 needed to be considered under the old
guidance. Mr Conmy then proceeded to read from the old Home
Office Guidance pertaining to criminal activity as outlined in
sections 11.27 and 11.29 to support his argument.
If requested by Members, he would be willing to
suggest further conditions on the licence.
In response to
questions from Members, Mr Conmy
referred to the case of East Lindsey District Council v
Hanif  and proposed that if
there was a need to avoid harm in the future then revocation was an
Presentation by the Premises Licence
Mr Gary Grant,
Barrister, representing Mr Marius Costrasel, presentation was made under item 4b)
presentation made by Mr Conmy, Mr Grant
was then invited back by the Sub-Committee to make further points
and he stated that:
If there was no other option available than promote
the licensing objectives, then Members would be minded to revoke
the premises licence. However, in this
case, a proper alternative had been suggested.
The Sub-Committee could not speculate without facts
being provided. In this case, no
evidence had been provided which showed Mr Costrasel’s criminal involvement with the
premises. His mere presence on
Christmas Eve when collecting his bonus did not implicate him in
the involvement of illicit tobacco.
There was evidence to suggest that Mr Costrasel as Designated Premises Supervisor and
Premises Licence Holder would make improvements to the
The Sub-Committee may decide that both Mr
Sarbu and Mr Buzato should have no involvement with the premises
to which he would agree and that was why conditions had been
offered to exclude them. Other
conditions had been offered to avoid such offences being
He felt that Mr Costrasel should be given the opportunity to manage
the premises. If he was not successful,
then the responsible authorities had the right to bring the
application back to the
This was the first time the premises had been
reviewed by the Sub-Committee considering the seriousness and
urgency of the issues raised. Despite
the raid that initiated the review that had occurred in March 2016,
it took the Council 11 months to instigate the
In response to
questions from Members, Mr Grant confirmed that:
Although it could be speculated that Mr Costrasel might have been involved in criminal
activity associated with the premises, no facts before the
Sub-Committee had been provided.
occasionally assisted by carrying out ad hoc duties such as driving
to the Cash and Carry where illicit tobacco cannot be
obtained. That kind of tobacco was
usually purchased from a man in a white van who tended to deliver
goods off-road near to the premises.
Despite the underage sale that occurred in August
2016, no representations had been received.
As the premises served the Romanian community, it
was important that the shop continued to exist. Also seven staff members financially relied on the
Although the Home Office Guidance suggested
revocation in these type of cases, if an alternative option was
available it should be considered by the Sub-Committee.
In response to a
question from Members, the Legal Adviser to the Sub-Committee
confirmed that he agreed with Mr Grant that inferences can be drawn
only from the facts heard and presented. However, the Sub-Committee cannot speculate
without that being supported in some way by the evidence
The Legal Adviser also
suggested that the conditions offered by Trading Standards should
be taken for consideration by the Sub-Committee during its
At 8.24 pm, the
Sub-Committee withdrew from the meeting together with the legal
advisor and clerk to deliberate in private.
The Sub-Committee had
heard and considered representations from Mr Conmy and Mr Grant.
Legal advice was given
to the Sub-Committee on the options open to them and the need for
any decision to be proportionate. The
Sub-Committee decided to grant the review and impose additional
RESOLVED: To grant the
review (item 4d) and impose additional conditions.
Announcement of Decision
Members returned to
the meeting and the Chair informed those present of the decision to
grant the review application and impose conditions. The Chair confirmed that full written reasons and
notification of the decision would be sent in due