I featured Arun Patel in the September 4 issue as he was about to go before Croydon magistrates for selling cigarettes to an underaged girl. He pleaded guilty, feeling he had no choice, but insisted that the well-built girl looked well old enough.

"The prosecution presented a picture where she looked 15 and then my defence showed my CCTV pictures and the magistrates shook their heads in disbelief at the difference. They asked if her make-up had been removed afterwards and one of them said it looked like she was wearing lipstick."

Arun was further disturbed to see the same girl and same picture presented during a second case taking place that same day. "But that wasn't how she appeared in the store. They lied."

A local paper ran the story about the charges and fines and the fact that there were "no till prompts". Arun retaliated by going to another paper with his side of the story and claiming that he had been unfairly targeted by trading standards. The paper reported that he had received unwavering support from the community including the head of a nearby school who sent a letter to the court, and the local residents' association.

Topics