AN ALNESS shopkeeper has been granted an off-sales alcohol licence, despite an appeal from the police because of his drugs conviction.
Iqbal Mohammed had applied for a provisional premises licence for Bridgend Store but local police inspector Andrew MacLaren objected because he was fined £75 for drugs offences in 2009.
However, the Highland Licensing Board approved the businessman’s application after Mr Mohammed’s solicitor Lorna Murray spoke on his behalf.
She said the level of fine he received at Inverness Sheriff Court in July 2009 indicated that it was at the lower end of the criminal scale and it was a “tiny” amount of drugs involved.
Mr Mohammed had been working in an Inverness takeaway shop at the time when he found two small packets of drugs, the solicitor told the board.
“He picked them up with the intention of taking them to the local police office,” said Mrs Murray, but he later gave a workmate a lift home to Nairn where he was stopped by police and the drugs were discovered.
She said the drugs amounted to less than £2 in value and pointed out the board had granted her client a personal licence for a shop he runs in the Merkinch area of Inverness about 18 months ago.
The businessman intends to appoint a premises manager for his Alness shop.
Inspector MacLaren said it had been two counts of the Misuse of Drugs Act and objected to the licence for the shop, which is on the edge of a housing estate, being granted on the grounds of crime prevention.
Board member, Inverness councillor Allan Duffy said it did not matter how much drugs had been involved because it was still unacceptable.