AN OFF-LICENCE in Hatch End has been forced pay nearly £1,000 after selling butane gas to children.
The owner of Hatch End Food and Wine, Nadarajah Thillainathan was fined £405 and ordered to pay Brent and Harrow Trading Standards £500 after the store in Uxbridge Road sold products to underage teens in routine test purchases.
The 55-year-old was hauled in front of Harrow Magistrates' on Wednesday, October 5, for flouting regulations preventing the sale of gas to children.
The court heard how Trading Standards Officers sent two children aged 13 and 14 into Hatch End Food and Wine under instruction to try and buy refill gas for a cigarette lighter, containing butane, a product restricted to over 18s.
It was revealed that one employee even guided the children to where the gas was kept and Thillainathan himself served them.
The children were not asked how old they were or for any proof of age and it was noted that the owner was talking on his mobile phone whilst serving them.
The chair of the magistrates commented that this was a very serious offence and the protection of children and others in the community was of great importance.
Credit was given for an early guilty plea as well as the fact that the defendant was of good character.
Head of Trading Standards Nagendar Bilon said after the hearing. “I am glad that the Magistrates recognised the seriousness of the offence and I hope this sends a message to other traders about their responsibilities.
"When serving age restricted products it is important that your mind is fully on the job. "Abuse of Butane is extremely serious, and can be fatal.
"Statistics show that in 39% of volatile solvent abuse (VSA) deaths there was no evidence of previous solvent abuse.
"Solvent abuse can stop your heart working properly which can kill you instantly.
"People who abuse solvents for a long time risk damage to their heart, brain, liver and kidneys.”