Crouch End and Stroud Green shop owners fined after selling knives to teenagers

KH Patel in Crouch End. Picture: Google Maps

KH Patel in Crouch End. Picture: Google Maps - Credit: Archant

Two shop owners were fined thousands of pounds this morning for selling knives to children in Crouch End and Stroud Green.

Shop4Less in Stroud Green Road. Picture: Google Maps

Shop4Less in Stroud Green Road. Picture: Google Maps - Credit: Archant

The cases came after a spate of "mystery shopper" police cadets attempting to buy blades from stores in the west of Haringey.

Sanji Patel, who owns KH Patel, pleaded guilty to his shop selling a Stanley knife to two police cadets on January 26 this year. He has been fined £3,406.

Meanwhile Ahmad Nazari, who runs Shop4Less in Stroud Green Road, pleaded guilty and was fined £1,372 for selling a similar blade to a 13-year-old cadet a month earlier.

Highbury Magistrates Court heard two cadets visited KH Patel, in Tottenham Lane, and bought the blade from the man serving behind the counter. Haringey Council's solicitor, Althea Morris, told the court the 14- and 15-year-old cadets were not asked how old they were, or for proof of ID.

After buying the knife, the teenagers went outside and gave it to two enforcement officers.

Ms Morris said the officers then spoke to the man who sold the knife, who is a member of Patel's extended family. He had worked there for 40 years. He said the owner wasn't in the shop and that he wasn't aware it was not allowed.

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The shop sells hardware equipment, and Patel said they don't sell "big knives," Ms Morris told the court.

When he was interviewed, he told Haringey Council officers he thought the cadets looked about 20, the court heard. Ms Morris also said the shop doesn't provide any formal training, but has informal conversations when the law changes.

Defending Patel, David Sonn said the store had two enforcement visits in the past, and had passed both.

He also told the bench that while Stanley knives can cause a "considerable amount" of damage, this type of blade wasn't responsible for most knife crimes in the capital.

He said: "The knife crime that we have seen has been done by larger knives. The Stanley knives that are on sale [in the shop] aren't on display now. So the company is taking action to try and stop people coming in and buying knives that are prohibited."

During officers' visits to the Stroud Green Road shop on February 23, Ms Morris said Nazari did not ask the cadet's age or if she had any ID.

She told the court that, when he was interviewed by officers, he had said he was distracted by another customer in the shop but did not think the cadet was underage.

"This is a serious criminal offence, especially with rising levels of knife crime in his streets," said Ms Morris.

Nazari has run the store for 12 years. The court heard this was the first time he had failed one of the checks.

Defending him, Ozlem Erbil-Cetin said he now has a "refusal book" recording occasions that people have been turned down from buying blades. He also has a greater awareness of the Challenge 21 policy.

Fining Nazari, chair of the bench Tony Martin said: "You sold a knife to a 13-year-old. You're the sole trader. If you are distracted by another customer, you can always ask the person you are serving to wait."

Meanwhile, telling Patel to pay a total of £3,406, Mr Martin said: "Knife crime is a big problem in society at the moment. People like shopkeepers and shop owners should be the front line because if they don't sell knives to individuals, in some way that reduces the problem. They can ask what age they are or for ID.

"We accept the fact that this is the first time that they have been prosecuted for an offence of this type. On the other hand, it is a very serious matter - it is a knife."

A spokesperson from Haringey Council, who led the operation, said: "There is absolutely no excuse for selling knives to young people - it is irresponsible, illegal and dangerous. Knife crime is having a devastating impact across London and traders should know that we will take the toughest action possible against those breaking the rules."