A SHOP owner sold cigarettes to a schoolgirl.
The 14-year-old volunteer was part of a sting by Trading Standards.
A court heard how she went into the newsagent’s in Sunderland and bought 10 Regal King Size cigarettes from Bikrumjeet Singh Dulay without being challenged.
Michelle Irving, prosecuting for Sunderland Council, told the city’s magistrates’ court that seven stores were targeted on February 19, after complaints about under-16s being sold cigarettes.
But only Clinton Stores, in Clinton Place, Middle Herrington, failed the test purchase.
Miss Irving said all the shops had been sent letters by Sunderland Trading Standards on February 7, warning them an investigation was taking place.
But the girl was still able to buy cigarettes from the 25-year-old, who runs the business with his father.
Miss Irving said: “She was accompanied by a trading standards officer and purchased cigarettes and the transaction was then observed.
“The officer observed her ask for 10 Regal King Size and pay for them and leave the store. He did not ask for her age.”
Dulay, whose home address was given in court as the shop, was interviewed by police on March 14.
He admitted he was in charge of the business at the time of the illegal sale, as his father was out of the country.
He told officers the shop had a policy of challenging people who looked under 18 if they tried to buy alcohol or cigarettes.
But Dulay, the shop personal licence holder, said he had not had any training in dealing with under-age sales, other than his father telling him not to sell to anyone who looked younger than 18.
He received a caution in September 2007 for selling alcohol to an under 18.
Dulay, who represented himself, apologised to the court and added: “Obviously I thought she looked over 18 and for some reason I served her.”
Chairman of the bench John Prince said: “The fact that the local authority had taken the opportunity to advise local shopkeepers that they were going to do this exercise, you were really full aware of it.
“Then we have heard on your own admission that you did not ask the age of the young lady.”
He added: “The bench are very anxious that we would to make it known that we are very keen to stop young children buying tobacco and alcohol.”
Dulay was fined £150 and ordered to pay £145 costs and a £20 victim surcharge.