‘Costly bottle of rum’ for Lidl

A district court judge has said convicting retail giant Lidl for serving alcohol to a minor would be like “using a hammer to swat a fly”.

‘Costly bottle of rum’ for Lidl

Judge James O’Connor said he would strike out the matter after an offer of a €5,000 contribution to the court poor box by counsel Constance Cassidy on behalf of the retail chain.

Lidl was accused of the offence at its Listowel store in Co Kerry on April 24, 2015, following a Garda test operation. Ms Cassidy said it was only the second incident of its kind in the company’s 16-year history in Ireland.

Superintendent Dan Keane told Listowel District Court the store had been selected randomly for testing as part of a Garda operation to curb the sale of alcohol to persons underage.

Garda Cliodhna Walsh entered the store with a 16-year-old girl, who went to the alcohol section and selected a bottle of Sunrise Rum. She then observed the girl go to the cashier, where the item was paid for.

Supt Keane told the judge that at no stage had the cashier requested any information from the girl.

He said she looked like “a typical 16-year-old” and was dressed like a “typical 16-year-old” when asked if any effort had been made by her to look older. After the minor had left the store, the garda notified the duty manager about what had happened.

Lidl district manager Coleman O’Flaherty said the cashier in question was a trusted employee, who had worked for Lidl for 10 years.

“We had a long discussion about what had happened and she said it was an honest mistake,” said Mr O’Flaherty. “She’s still calling me and is very worried about the court case and about her future.”

“Convicting would be like using a hammer to swat a fly but Lidl has 146 stores, all doing fabulously well,” said Judge O’Connor.

He accepted a revised offer of €5,000 and adjourned the matter to Tralee District Court on Wednesday, when he said he would strike out the matter.

“That was a costly bottle of Sunrise Rum,” he said.

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