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Shop fined after 14-year-old girl sold cigarettes

A retail outlet in Tuam has been convicted at the local court of selling cigarettes to a 14-year-old girl.

As part of a random check on retail outlets by the HSE, the premises known as Mac’s Place at the N17 Plaza on Galway Road, Tuam was inspected.

The defendants, Mac’s Place Limited with an address at Ballybrit Business Park, Galway, admitted the offence and were fined €1,000 and ordered to pay €600 in costs to the HSE who brought the case.

Judge James Faughnan said, while it was largely down to the staff members complying with the laws relating to the sale of tobacco, “the buck stops with the owners; they are the people in charge”.

The Judge also ordered that two days of restricted sales apply to the owners, meaning that there can be no tobacco sales on these two days which were identified to the court.

Evidence was given at Tuam District Court of the minor entering the premises and purchasing goods to the value of €22.50. These included a pack of 20 cigarettes.

HSE solicitor Barry Kellegher told the court that the prosecution came about following a random check and that a number of other outlets across the country were also inspected on the same day.

Senior Environmental Health Officer with the HSE Peter Gaffey stated in evidence that an inspection was carried out at the N17 Plaza (Mac’s Place) on the Galway Road in Tuam on November 25 last.

He said that he witnessed the 14 years old minor going to the counter and successfully purchasing 20 cigarettes.

The male shop assistant did not ask the girl her age or seek any form of identification. Mr Gaffey spoke to the manager on duty and informed him of his findings.

The witness said that he then wrote to the owner of the business to outline what had transpired on the day in question.

Solicitor Mr Kellegher then handed in a photograph of the girl to Judge Faughnan and stated that this was taken on the day in which she purchased the cigarettes.

Defending solicitor Thelma McMahon informed the court that the particular staff member no longer worked for the company and that the defendants took this matter very seriously.

She said that the company carried out regular “refresher training” involving all members of staff. The solicitor added that all staff were familiar with the laws surrounding age-restricted products. Ms McMahon added that on learning what had happened, the staff member went through a disciplinary process, subsequently went out on leave and did not return.

The solicitor went on to say that refresher training was provided at the twelve Plaza outlets nationwide and the company took this matter very seriously.

Judge Faughnan said: “You think that you have done everything possible but there are times when people simply don’t do what they are told.”

But he said that his hands were tied and that he had no choice but to record a conviction.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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