Linda Webber leaving Chelmsford Magistrates' Court

Article by Sophie Finnegan: A grandmother who sold alcohol to two teenage boys in a pub in Billericay "thought they were members of the band" which was performing.

Linda Webber, 64, sold two pints of larger to two boys aged 15 and 17 in the Nags Pub on September 22 last year. At Chelmsford Magistrates' Court today (January 29), Webber pleaded guilty to one charge of selling alcohol to a person under the age of 18.

Representing the crown, Paula Cochrane, outlined the facts of the case to the court.

In a ‘tester purchasing’ scheme, used to uncover if a premise is selling alcohol to people under the age of 18, two boys aged 15 and 17 went up to the bar and ordered two pints of lager. Miss Webber served them the two pints without asking for proof of age, despite the pub operating a ‘Challenge 25’ scheme.

This is used as a guideline to ask for identification of anyone who looks under the age of 25.

Mitigating lawyer, Miss Nunn, said:

“It was a Friday night at around 7.00pm, there was a band setting up to play. Miss Webber believed that the two boys that approached the bar were members of the band who were all over 18 because they do not book anyone below that. It was a genuine mistake. Whilst they do not look 25, one of them could look 18 but she accepts that she should have been more vigilant and should not have assumed, it was a one-off. It was a genuine mistake, she is very remorseful. It is a local pub, a local community pub that Miss Webber has been the premises supervisor for 11 years without any incidents. She also worked at Rayleigh Golf Club with no issues whilst she was running that for a few years. Miss Webber takes her responsibility very seriously. She tells me her usual customers are around mid-40’s it is not a youngster’s pub. She is of previous good character and has in fact never been in trouble with the police, local authorities or trading standards and she has pleaded guilty at the first opportunity. She is a family lady, married with three children and two grandchildren, she worked full time in the pub and it was, in effect, her life.”

Miss Nunn also explained how Webber regularly gets involved with charity events with the pub and recently helped raise £6,000 for the Rainbow Trust.

The chair of the bench, Anthony Brock, opted not to suspend her personal license and instead imposed a fine of £140.

Article by Sophie Finnegan, EssexLive

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