A STORE'S off-licence has been revoked after a court heard evidence that staff sold alcohol to under-age children.

Owner Cecilia Hart was found to be not a fit person to hold the off-licence at The Wine Lodge, in Durham Road, Stockton.

Alan Nixon, chairman of the Teesside Licensing Committee, said Hart, of Acklam Road, Middlesbrough, did not spend sufficient time at the store to have effective day- to-day control. Concern was also expressed at her lack of knowledge of licensing laws.

Mr Nixon said she had failed in her responsibility to properly instruct her staff, while there was evidence of under-age youngsters being served alcohol.

The bench granted a Cleveland police application to revoke the off-licence and ordered Hart to pay £2,730 costs.

Simon Walker, for Hart and her partner, Hafeez Malik, told magistrates: "My clients will be appealing on this issue. You have taken their livelihood from them."

After the hearing, PC Mark Hodgson said the shop had sold alcohol on a regular basis to under-age children and the revoking of the licence was welcomed by police.

Hart told the court she asked to see proof if in doubt about the age of a customer, and Mr Malik regularly chased children from the front of the shop fearing they would get adults to buy liquor for them.