Amran Ali, who owns and runs the Costcutter store on Central Avenue, was seen by police and Falkirk Council’s licensing officers on CCTV selling two bottles of Buckfast and two cans of Dragon Soop – a caffeinated drink containing four units of alcohol in each tin.
Falkirk Council’s licensing board heard that the police were tipped off by an anonymous call, and when they examined CCTV footage, they saw Mr Ali selling the drink to a customer on April 22.
While CCTV showed it to be 6.07am, it was later revealed that the system’s clock had not been reset and it was in fact 7.07am – three hours earlier than the shop’s licence permitted.
Claire McKenzie representing the police told the board that she recognised Mr Ali and could see that he had put the sale through manually, rather than through the till which would record the sale.
The police asked the board to review the licence for the premises and Mr Ali’s personal licence at its latest meeting this week.
His lawyer, Andrew Thomson, told the board that Mr Ali, who is “sole breadwinner who has to support his family” had been “incredibly foolish that morning”.
“This is his first offence,” he told board members, apart from an incident at The Ellwyn, which he said “must be put into context”.
The Ellwyn, which he also owns is part of the same building and after several complaints about a previous manager, Mr Ali had resorted to changing the locks to get rid of him.
“The Ellwyn had a rogue manager who behaved very poorly indeed,” said Mr Thomson.
“Mr Ali stopped them trading, which came at some cost to him financially. The behaviour of the tenants thereafter meant he was verbally and physically abused.”
He told the board his client had also had a cancer scare and he had been attending hospital to get a lump in his throat investigated.
He said: “At the time, he was under considerable emotional and financial pressure and stress brought on by his circumstances.
“That does not excuse what he did but it is a plea of mitigation,” said Mr Thomson, asking the board to deal with Mr Ali “in a due and proportionate fashion”.
Councillor Lorna Binnie questioned whether the customer was known to Mr Ali.
“The customer who came in was known to Mr Ali and he just wanted to get rid of him. At first he refused to sell the items but the customer began to mouth off and he relented,” said Mr Thomson.
After consideration, the board revoked the premise’s licence to sell liquor for 12 weeks, something Mr Thomson said could be “ruinous for his business” and asked them to think again.
But the board’s new convener, Niall Coleman said: “The board regards the severity of the offence very strongly.
“It is the first offence but the suspension is half what we are allowed to give.”
Amran Ali’s personal licence to sell alcohol was endorsed.