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Home News Birkenhead store fined over £2,700 for selling vape to 15 year old

Birkenhead store fined over £2,700 for selling vape to 15 year old

May 18, 2024

Grange News within the Pyramids Shopping Centre. (Photo: Google Street View via LDRS)

By: Ed Barnes, Local Democracy Reporter

A Birkenhead newsagents has been slapped with a hefty fine after illegally selling a vape to a teenager.

Grange News on St Werburgh’s Square in Birkenhead was taken to court by Wirral Council with a hearing at Wirral Magistrates Court on May 16. Wirral Council said Magd Al-Mardai, who manages the shop, did not attend the hearing but the case was heard in his absence.

Wirral Council said the court accepted the council’s prosecution, who were working on behalf of Wirral Trading Standards, and proven the facts of the case.

The local authority said the prosecution was brought after a 15-year-old volunteer went into the shop in August 2023 as part of a test purchasing operation . She was able to buy a vape without being challenged to prove their age at the time of the sale.

Grange News had previously received a compliance visit by Trading Standards officers, a warning letter and a caution for selling age-restricted products to children. They had also signed an undertaking for supplying illicit vapes.

At Wirral Magistrates Court, Mr Al-Mardai was fined £500 and ordered to pay costs of £2,068 and a victim surcharge of £200.

Mr Al-Mardai said he was shocked about the decision, claiming he had been unaware of the hearing and had not received a letter but accepted the decision.

He said: “It was one of my friends. I needed some help so she helped me out for two to three days but she failed to challenge that teenager,” adding: “I take full responsibility for my staff. We have been here in the shop for over 10 years. We have been part of this community. We have seen kids grow into adults.”

He said humans were not machines and errors do happen, adding: “We are trying our best to keep our kids away from vapes. I take full responsibility for our actions and I am not ashamed of my mistakes.”

Wirral Council said Trading Standards’ ability to tackle traders who don’t comply with the law has been boosted recently with the recruitment of a dedicated officer. This has been funded through the local authority’s public health team with a focus on tobacco and other illicit sales-related offences.

(Local Democracy Reporting Service)