NOT GUILTY

Trader cleared of as­sault

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - FRONT PAGE - By Guy Bell gbell@thek­m­group.co.uk @GuyBel­lKM

A Sta­ple­hurst shop­keeper’s 10 months of “hell” has ended af­ter he was cleared of at­tack­ing a 12-year-old boy dur­ing an ar­gu­ment over en­ergy drinks.

Rajendra Parekh had been ac­cused of try­ing to hit the se­condary school pupil and dig­ging his nails into his neck dur­ing the af­ter­noon al­ter­ca­tion, but was ac­quit­ted fol­low­ing a trial at Med­way Mag­is­trates’ Court.

The 59-year-old re­vealed he found it dif­fi­cult to eat while po­lice in­ves­ti­gated the al­leged as­sault and welled up as he was told he was free to leave the court.

Mr Parekh banned the sale of en­ergy drinks to any­one un­der the age of 18 at his shop Sta­tion Newsagents, in Sta­tion Road, which an­noyed some of his young cus­tomers.

The com­plainant, who can­not be named, told the court he had placed a can of Mon­ster en­ergy drink on the floor in­side the shop as he was los­ing his bal­ance.

How­ever, Mr Parekh, told mag­is­trates he felt he was in­tim­i­dated by the boy and his five friends when he grabbed him around the col­lar to re­move him from his shop and told him to pick up the can.

He said: “I don’t sell en­ergy drinks to chil­dren. They can cause heart at­tacks and di­a­betes. I have di­a­betes and I don’t want any­one else to have it.

“I have ex­plained to this boy be­fore that his kid­neys are go­ing to be bad if he drinks en­ergy drinks. His re­sponse was that he doesn’t have kid­neys.

“I felt threat­ened. He was drink­ing a mon­ster en­ergy drink and that made him hyper. He left the drink in­side the shop in the door­way. I think he did it to wind me up.

“I felt threat­ened and thought some­thing was go­ing to hap­pen to me.”

“I grabbed him and said to him to pick up the rub­bish.”

Fol­low­ing 30 min­utes of de­lib­er­a­tions, mag­is­trates cleared Mr Parekh, who has owned Sta­tion Newsagents since 2007, of as­sault by beat­ing.

Newsagent cleared of at­tack­ing 12-year-old in en­ergy drinks row

Pic­ture: Matthew Walker

Rajendra Parekh has banned the sale of en­ergy drinks to any­one un­der the age of 18 at his Sta­ple­hurst store

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