A BIDEFORD publican has been fined thousands of pounds after failing to ensure one of his pubs was run correctly.
Elliott Gould, owner of Johnny's Bar, Mill Street, was fined by Barnstaple magistrates on Thursday.
At the hearing he pleaded guilty to breaching the conditions of his pub licence. He made the same plea for the company he owns with his brother – GB Pub Company Ltd.
Lawyer Chris Jones told the court Gould, 30, breached licensing laws last year.
The offence came to light during a joint police and local authority enforcement programme during August and September.
On September 13, PC Paul Daw and Torridge District Council's licensing manager Tony Nicholls paid Johnny's Bar a surprise visit. They expected to find Gould or his brother Alistair but the only member of staff was Davina Brown. This meant there was no qualified personal licence holder on the premises – a condition of the pub licence.
Ms Brown said Gould had been away throughout her evening shift, which started at 4pm. When he did show up at 7.47pm, he refused to be interviewed. But on October 2 he said his mother had been present during the shift.
Mr Jones said: “During the interview it was put to him that he was not telling the truth. He was asked if he was calling Davina Brown a liar. He said she might not have realised his mother was present.
“His explanation is totally rejected by Torridge District Council.”
Mr Jones said Gould was aware of the importance of having a personal licence holder as he had paid for Ms Brown to sit a test to become one.
The court heard that on the day of the visit Gould was at another bar he and his brother own in Exeter.
Gould said his Exeter manager had rung in to say he had to go to hospital and this had delayed his return to Bideford.
Sentencing him, the presiding magistrate said Gould clearly knew his responsibilities. He said alcohol had to be regulated. The local authority should be aware of who sells it, to whom, where and when.
Gould and the company were given fines of £4,000 and £1,000 costs. There were also two victim support surcharges of £15; taking the total fines and costs order to £5,030.
After the hearing Mr Nicholls said: “As the licensing authority, our approach from the outset has been to work co-operatively with licence holders. Unfortunately, there is a small minority of licensees who persistently flout the rules and in these circumstances we have to resort to legal action.” Cllr Andy Boyd, chair of licensing for the council, said: “It is disappointing that on occasion we had to resort to this kind of action. However, we do try to be fair and even-handed.”