Police uncover illegal ‘casino’ above Doncaster restaurant with dozens of people in breach of Covid-19 restrictions

A Doncaster restaurant is in hot water after police uncovered an illegal ‘casino’ above the premises with dozens of people in breach of coronavirus restrictions.

Shabir’s Restaurant on East Laith Gate in Doncaster town centre

In reports sent to Doncaster Council, South Yorkshire Police officers said they were alerted that the upstairs function room of Shabir’s Restaurant on East Laith Gate in the town centre was holding gatherings of ‘40 to 50 people’ every Sunday.

The licensee holder of the restaurant will now have to appear before the council’s licensing committee to answer questions on the reported breach of conditions.

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Council bosses were told the function room had been sublet but officers said they found plates and menus next to gaming machines in the casino-style room and added that they were confident the restaurant knew about the operation.

Officers say they had received a call days before relating to a possible breach of coronavirus restrictions.

After speaking with the restaurant owner, they were taken through the kitchen to a staircase which led to a function room upstairs.

PC Andrew Parker in his report, said he entered the function room and described a ‘typical casino’ set up with a number of people playing a card game around a casino-style table with chips.

The officer also detailed a number of gaming machines and another card table close to another group of males who were in a seating area and another group in a bar area.

PC Parker said: “Upon realising we were there, they began to panic and rush out through what I now know is a fire exit.

“The group, which was in excess of nine people, managed to escape as I blocked the entrance to the room from the kitchen area.

“PC Love who was now in the lower bar area was outnumbered and attempting to stop the group she had located from the exit through another access door.”

Two men and a woman were stopped by the officers and were issued fines through coronavirus laws. One of the men said he had only turned up to deliver pizza but the officers said the food was eaten and what was left was cold.

Following a search, officers found three cannabis grinders and an amount of cannabis inside a coffee jar.

“The room had the appearance of a setup casino. There were snacks and drinks on the tables as well as numerous cigarette remains,” PC Parker added.

“I noticed on the side of the three gaming machines that there were a stack of clean serving plates and next to a set of menus which appeared to be from Shabir’s Restaurant.

“Given what I saw on my initial entrance into the room and what I observed as I walked around, I have no doubt in my mind that this room had been operating as a casino with the knowledge of the restaurant below.”

Reports detail that Red Curry Ltd holds the premises licence while Ehtesham Ishaq was the designated premises supervisor at the time.

DMBC licensing officers attended the site and met with the restaurant owner. He said Mr Ishaq had not been involved in the business since September 2020 and knew nothing of the sublet of the first floor.

Councillors on the licensing committee will now decide whether to modify the conditions of the premises licence, exclude a licensable activity from the scope of the licence, remove the designated premises supervisor, suspend the licence for a period not exceeding three months or revoke the licence entirely.