Shopkeeper stripped of booze licence after selling to 15-year-old

Juliette Muca
Juliette Muca
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A FORMER shopkeeper has been stripped of her licence to sell alcohol after she served booze to a 15-year-old girl.

The youngster, who was part of an undercover sting operation by Trading Standards, bought four cans of lager at Newsline, in Millfield, Sunderland.

At Sunderland Magistrates’ Court, Sunderland City Council solicitor Jim Wotherspoon said Juliette Muca failed to ask the girl for ID when she came into the family-run shop in St Mark’s Road on October 10, 2010.

But the 30-year-old, who was the off-licence’s designated premises supervisor, claimed her mother Elspeth Lockley sold the alcohol.

Muca, of Victoria Place, was found guilty after a trial of an offence under the Licensing Act.

Consumer protection officer Linda Hodgson carried out the operation, along with Adrian Foster from Trading Standards and an undercover police officer.

She followed the two teenagers into the shop and saw the sale.

Ms Hodgson said she was “100 per cent” sure that the women serving was Muca.

The youngsters left after paying for the alcohol, followed by Ms Hodgson.

She came back into the store to point out Muca to the police officer and Mr Foster.

Mr Foster showed Muca photos of the two test purchase volunteers and told her he would be in touch.

But two letters inviting her to attend an interview under caution went unanswered, which she blamed on problems with her post.

Muca, who represented herself in court, said she routinely asked anyone who looked under 30 for ID.

“I’m not from Sunderland and I notice that people tend to look a bit older than I am used to. I look at it as a case that I don’t know how old these people are,” she said.

On that afternoon she served a student she knew was over 18, who looked like one of the test purchase volunteers, which confused her when photographs of them were produced, she said.

Muca then went upstairs to the family home, when her mother served the two teenagers.

It wasn’t until a year later when Miss Lockley spotted a copy of the photograph sent to her daughter that she realised what had happened, she said.

But District Judge Roger Elsey dismissed her claims, saying: “There is a significant difference in appearance between Miss Lockley and her daughter, the defendant.

“They are obviously different generations and Miss Lockley is clearly very much older than the defendant.”

He added: “Having considered the evidence, I have came to the conclusion that Miss Lockley’s concern for her daughter has allowed her to persuade herself that she conducted the transaction.”

The judge ordered Muca to pay £200 towards court costs, a £200 fine and £15 victim surcharge.

He suspended her personal licence to sell alcohol for three months.

Muca told the court she no longer worked at Newsline.

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