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Louth pub owner ‘extremely embarrassed’ after 15-year-old was able to buy cigarettes on premises



A 15-year-old boy was able to purchase cigarettes in a Drogheda pub, the district court has heard.

Evidence was given that when a tobacco test purchase was carried out the youth bought a token for a vending machine on the premises.

In a prosecution brought by the Health Service Executive (HSE), G. Brady Taverns Drogheda Ltd, Duleek Street, was summonsed for, on 2 June 2022, at The Pheasant, Duleek Street, selling or supplying tobacco product to a person under 18 or invite an offer to purchase tobacco by a person who had not attained the age of 18 contrary to Section 45 (1) of the Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2002.

The company pleaded guilty, and the summons was struck out after a €1,000 donation was made to charity.

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A similar summons against the employee who served the boy, Rebecca Weston, Beechwood Avenue, Marley’s Lane, Drogheda, was withdrawn by the HSE.

Mark Scanlon for the Health Service Executive said that at 12.29pm on 2 June last a 15-year-old male volunteer requested a token for a self-service vending machine.

Ms Weston asked him which one and he replied the smoking machine. He received a token and change from €20 and got 20 Pall Mall cigarettes before leaving.

A witness to the tobacco test purchase transaction approached Ms Weston and informed her she had been observed giving the token and change.

The woman said she knew the legal age (for buying cigarettes) was over 18 and that she thought the youth was over 18.

Mr Gerry Brady was advised of what happened and it was explained to him that an offence had taken place and was likely to result in prosecution.

There were no previous convictions.

Solicitor Paul Moore said that Rebecca Weston, an employee, was under stress at the time and very much distracted.

The company was pleading guilty. There had never been any difficulty in more than 30 years in business.

Mr Moore continued that The Pheasant had a strictly over 23s policy and generally catered for an older clientele.

Staff were aware of the legislation and had undergone refresher training.

Since this matter, the cigarette machine has been removed from the pub area.

Mr Brady was ‘extremely embarrassed’ by the incident and would hate to think his own children would be able to purchase tobacco in this manner.

The solicitor said it was extremely unlikely to happen again.

Mr Scanlon pointed out this was a Class B fine matter, which had a €4,000 limit. On conviction, there was up to a three-month ban on selling tobacco.

He added HSE costs totalled €3,550.

Mr Moore replied the court had full discretion.

Judge McKiernan struck out the summons after €1,000 was donated to The Red Door Project.

The judge said she wouldn’t order costs ‘in the circumstances’.