A SHERIFF issued a warning over the dangers of under-age drinking as he spared a shop worker a jail sentence after she was caught selling cider to a 16-year-old boy during an undercover police sting.

Sheriff Tom McCartney said the scourge of young teenage drinkers in Renfrewshire is “a real problem.”

He added that shop workers are “on the front line” of ensuring alcohol does not fall into the hands of those who are too young to buy it legally.

Sheriff McCartney made the comments at Paisley Sheriff Court as he sentenced Johnstone woman Elizabeth McPartlan.

McPartlan, 54, could have been caged for up to three months, or fined £5,000, for selling the youngster a £3 bottle of Strongbow.

Earlier this year, via letter, McPartlan pleaded guilty to breaking Section 102(1) of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 by selling alcohol to someone under the age of 18.

Sentence was deferred for her to be personally present and she has now appeared at Paisley Sheriff Court to learn her fate.

Procurator fiscal depute Hazel Emmerson said McPartlan was working in the Key Store in Ness Avenue, Johnstone, on October 6 last year as police were staging an operation to target shops that sell alcohol to kids.

McPartlan, of Ness Avenue, did not have a solicitor to act on her behalf and represented herself during the hearing.

She told the court: “Selling alcohol to under-agers is very serious. I’ve worked in the shop for seven years, I’ve asked many, many people for proof of ID and it was poor judgement on my part.

“I’m so sorry it happened.”

After hearing that McPartlan works around 30 hours per week in the shop and earns around £200 per week, Sheriff McCartney fined her £100, reduced from £150 as she admitted her guilt.

As he did so, he told her: “I can see that having to come to court is quite an ordeal for you.”