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Trader guilty of underage knife sale

PUBLISHED: 15:26 12 June 2009 | UPDATED: 16:16 07 September 2010

Chris Ostwald who is appearing in Channel4 programme

Chris Ostwald who is appearing in Channel4 programme "Grand Designs"

© Nigel Sutton 17 Redington Rd,London,NW37QX. Phone 020 7794 3008. email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

Robyn Rosen A MUSWELL Hill trader has been found guilty of selling a knife to an underage child, despite not being present on the day of the offence. Chris Ostwald (pictured), owner of kitchen shop, The Scullery, was convicted on Monday at Haringey Magist

Robyn Rosen

A MUSWELL Hill trader has been found guilty of selling a knife to an underage child, despite not being present on the day of the offence.

Chris Ostwald (pictured), owner of kitchen shop, The Scullery, was convicted on Monday at Haringey Magistrates Court and fined £2,000.

He was not present in the Muswell Hill Broadway store on October 23 last year when one of his employees sold a £3.99 kitchen knife to a 15-year-old, but took responsibility for the offence as owner of the shop.

The incident was part of a council and police sting operation involving two 15-year-old police cadets attempting to buy alcohol and knives from shops in Muswell Hill.

Assistant manager Jack Spellane sold one of the cadets a paring knife without asking his age, while a council enforcement officer watched close by, the court heard.

Tobias Eaton, prosecuting, argued that there were no appropriate systems in place to ensure employees were made aware of the law regarding the sale of knives.

In October 2007, the law changed, increasing the legal age at which you can buy a knife from 16 to 18.

Mr Ostwald argued that his employees were all aware of the law but that he relied on the manager of the shop to train employees.

Summing up, chairman Lawrence Harvey said: "It is crucial in today's age with so much knife crime to be extra diligent. If you choose to sell knives you have a special duty of responsibility.

"The sales assistant made no enquiries as to his age and was unable to explain the training he received specifically in relation to knives.

"There was little training, a lack of rigour and any training appears to be haphazard.

"We do not consider you have exercised diligence."

Mr Ostwald, who also owns Arts for Art's Sake and Crocodile Antiques in Muswell Hill Broadway, said: "I'm really sorry this has happened. The shop is a high-class kitchenware shop. We do not have underage children attempting to buy knives. We are a small company and we do run the shop in a very close-knit way.

"My trust was in the manager at the time. She carried out the training and I believe she was very diligent.

"I will put into place some other measures. All the knives have now been moved to shelving behind the counter so they have to be asked for. I will send a written letter to every member of staff to explain the law again. We will take further steps now.

"It is only due to the fact that this was a carefully planned operation by the council that a young member of staff was taken in by the actions of two police cadets who appeared to be much older than they were.

"As a result of this operation we have been fined an enormous amount of money, which we will struggle to pay in these hard economic times.

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