Child death a ‘matter of time’ if Sheffield off-licence stayed open

Shop closed amid fears for children's safety
Shop closed amid fears for children's safety
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A child would eventually die if a Sheffield off-licence which sold booze to underage youngsters kept its licence, a meeting was told.

Cheryl Thompson, of South Yorkshire Police, warned the council’s licensing board it was a ‘matter of time’ until a youngster died if HK Off License and Mini Market, in Crookes, remained open.

The meeting heard yesterday that three underage youngsters had been hospitalised after illegally buying booze from the store, which recently changed its name to Crookes Wines & Spirits.

Councillors were told owner Srinivas Vagnol continued to sell ‘legal highs’ – despite being warned of the danger by Trading Standards – and had been caught with counterfeit alcohol in the past.

Ms Thompson told the meeting: “Mr Vagnol has a blatant disregard for upholding the licensing objectives.

“If this shop were to remain licenced, I think it’s only a matter of time until a child dies. There’s also a concern about selling legal highs.”

Sheffield Council’s licensing sub committee meeting revoked Mr Vagnol’s licence to sell alcohol.

In the wake of the ruling, a mum whose son was hospitalised after buying alcohol from the shop said: “It seems to me that some retailers have no conscience. They are prepared to make money by selling alcohol and legal highs to young people with no regard for their safety.

“I am pleased the council has done the right thing by revoking this licence. If the shop were allowed to continue trading it would only be a matter of time until a poor child’s parents were in a coroner’s court.”

The father of another boy who was hospitalised said: “It was extremely distressing and worrying witnessing the effect the alcohol had on our son and I hope no other parent has to go through the same ordeal.

“If it hadn’t been for the kindness of strangers who brought our boy home when they found him drunk in the park I shudder to think what may have happened next.

“He had cuts and bruises all over him. He was in a terrible state. He was dangerously drunk and it was obvious he needed hospital treatment and fast.

“I have never been so scared in my life as I watched a team of doctors and nurses cutting off my son’s clothes and putting him on oxygen to revive him.”

There is a 21-day period in which Mr Vangol can make an appeal against the decision. He can continue to sell alcohol during this period.