A poke in the eye for council

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A man who sold contraband cigarettes from his ice cream van has been successful in his appeal against a decision by Banbridge council to revoke his trading licence.

The appeal by Paul McDonald was heard last Thursday at Banbridge Magistrates Court.

The court heard that in April last year McDonald was discovered with over 8,000 contraband cigarettes which he had been selling from his ice cream van.

The environmental health committee of Banbridge council discussed the matter.

They were told that selling cigarettes was not covered by the trader’s licence and councillors were concerned about the contraband nature of the goods.

McDonald offered his apologies and said it was totally inappropriate but he had acted out of desperation.

He asked the council to give him a chance to re-establish his good name and character. He would never make the same mistake again.

Concerned that this involved selling contraband cigarettes the committee voted to revoke the licence.

A lawyer representing the council said the court had the power to change the council’s decision and it also had the power to attach conditions to the licence.

This could be, he suggested, that he was not allowed to sell cigarettes or tobacco of any sort.

A barrister representing McDonald said his client was 49.

The business had been started in 1973 by his father and after his death McDonald carried it on.

He explained that the cigarettes had been bought at Jonesborough. McDonald had already been fined £1,000 by customs who chose not to seize the vehicle.

The lawyer asked the judge to consider the second option.

He added that his client had continued to trade even though the decision to revoke the licence was made in September because it was under appeal. He had not come to the attention of the council since then.

Deputy District Judge, Mr John Connolly, said that he was making it clear that the council do not condone this behaviour.

But, he added, this man had been trading for a substantial amount of years.

He re-instated the trading licence with the condition that no tobacco of any description should be sold from the ice cream van and this should be closely monitored by the council.