A Stockton takeaway owner has been ordered to pay more than £1,200 for serving hot food without a licence.
Umaid Abdul Karim, owner of Gino’s on Yarm Lane in Stockton, was prosecuted by Stockton Council.
The 40-year-old appeared at Teesside Magistrates’ Court yesterday (July 15), charged with one offence under the Licensing Act 2003.
The court heard that under the Act, premises are required to hold a late night refreshment licence if they intend to serve hot food or drink between 11pm and 5am.
Mr Karim’s licence to sell hot food until 3am had been suspended but on February 16 this year, a test purchasing operation led by Stockton Council’s Trading Standards and Licensing Service found him to be serving beyond 3am.
The court heard that during the operation, Council officers witnessed police enter the premises at 3.20am and tell Mr Karim to close.
Mr Karim turned off the lights and closed the door to the shop, but then reopened and continued serving customers once police had left.
He also asked customers to hide their money and say they were collecting orders if the police came back.
In mitigation Mr Karim said he had served beyond his permitted hours whilst his licence was suspended as he was struggling to pay his rent.
Councillor Steve Nelson Stockton Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Safety said: “Premise licence hours are in place to prevent crime and disorder and disturbance to local residents and businesses.
“In order to obtain a licence to supply hot food between 11pm and 5am premises need to demonstrate that they can operate in a way that does not cause nuisance.
“This trader deliberately flouted licence requirements and on the night in question he even remained open beyond 5am despite being warned to close by the police.
“This case should serve as a warning to any other licensed premises owners who ignore their licence hours or trade without a licence.”
Mr Karim pleaded guilty to serving hot food without a licence, which is an offence under the Licensing Act 2003.
He was fined £500, ordered to pay £673 costs and a £50 victim surcharge.
For further information about licensing regulations in Stockton, visit www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/stockton