A SUPERMARKET in Harrow was taken to court last week after an employee sold cigarettes to a 13-year-old - even after she told staff her age.

Costcutter Express and a worker were fined £1,000 and ordered to pay a further £1,045 in costs following the sting carried out by Harrow and Brent trading standards.

Harrow Magistrates' Court heard how two child volunteers were sent into the store in High Road, Harrow Weald, where they asked sales assistant Pakianathan Gajendranathan for a packet of cigarettes.

He asked the volunteer how old she was and she told him she was 13; the legal age for buying tobacco is 18.

He then asked her if there were any police officers outside and even checked the surrounding area before selling them to her.

Rajesh Ganna, the owner of Costcutter Express, was later formally interviewed under caution when it became apparent that he had failed to provide any form of training to Mr Gajendranathan in the sale of agerestricted products.

In passing sentence, the magistrates said they had taken the early guilty plea into account. However, aggravating features were that they still sold the cigarettes after the child confirmed she was 13 years of age and that the seller even asked if there were police officers out-side.

A further aggravating factor was that the owner had not provided any training for staff.

After the case Bill Bilon, head of trading standards for Brent and Harrow, said: "This case demonstrates that business owners must make sure that all their staff are fully trained with regard to age-restricted goods, otherwise they too risk the possibility of being prosecuted.

"I am particularly disappointed that Costcutter Express supplied the cigarettes to the child as they are members of the Trading Standards Responsible Trader Scheme and, as such, had received comprehensive advice about how to avoid making sales of agerestricted goods to children."

To make a complaint about a high street trader in the boroughs of Brent and Harrow or an online trader nationally whom you suspect of supplying age-restricted products to children, consumers can call trading standards on 020 8937 5555.