Ealing: Off licence found with van full of 'highly addictive' painkiller

By Rory Bennett - Local Democracy Reporter

23rd Apr 2024 | Local News

Ealing Council has revoked the licence of Bally Express after finding unlawful tobacco and drugs (credit: Google maps).
Ealing Council has revoked the licence of Bally Express after finding unlawful tobacco and drugs (credit: Google maps).

Ealing Council has revoked the licence of a shop in Southall that was found to have a van full of illicit items including Tramadol outside it.

Council officers and police visited the Best Food & Wine (Bally's Express), at 10 Dudley Road, Southall in January where they discovered workers were hiding illegal tobacco products as well as a host of prescription drugs.

Licence holder, Philip Clarks, for the store did not make a representation at the sub-licencing committee hearing that would decide the fate of his store.

Instead, councillors on the panel relied heavily on veteran licencing officer Bob Dear for information on why he believed the shop should lose its right to sell alcohol.

Mr Dear explained what he saw on his visit to the shop in January. When he and officers entered the off licence they spotted that the employee had placed something in his pocket suspiciously.

After asking the employee to remove the item, it was discovered to be a key for a van parked outside. Mr Dear clarified that the van looked like it hadn't been used in a while and had a flat tyre.

Picture of the interior of van with illicit tabacco products displayed (credit: Ealing Council).

When police opened the van they discovered a cache of illicit tobacco products and prescription drugs. This included counterfeit cigarettes, illicit rolling tobacco, Indian tobacco and almost 4,000 tablets with an unpaid duty of around £3,600.

During the hearing, Mr Dear confirmed some of the tablets were the 'highly addictive' painkiller Tramadol while other tablets included counterfeit Viagra.

Mr Dear alleged that employees would flit between the van and the counter in order to supply customers with illicit substances and tobacco products.

"These are serious offences," he said. "[Criminal] prosecution may follow." This was not the first time licensing officers had found similar issues at Best Food & Wine.

In 2019, non-duty-paid alcohol was discovered, and its licence was suspended for three months after a council decision in 2020.

Mr Dear said that the presence of Tramadol showed a deterioration of the shop's adherence to licensing policy.

He asked the council to revoke the licence which they duly did, citing the 'large amount of illicit items' as a critical factor in the decision-making process.

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