Plans to seek an injunction against a Larne shop selling legal highs could be abandoned, after it emerged that the business may have ceased trading.
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has spent months compiling a legal challenge against the Northern Lights hydroponics shop, in the hope of securing a High Court ruling preventing the business from selling new psychoactive substances – commonly referred to as legals highs.
But the shutters have been down at the Dunluce Street premises in recent weeks .
And police have told the Times they believe the business – which has been the target of two separate arson attacks since May – is no longer operating.
This latest development has left the council’s plans – which were at an advanced stage – up in the air.
A council source told the Times: “We have submitted the file to our barristers and are currently awaiting a court date.
“But if the premises is in fact closed down, the civil case may not proceed to court. The decision on whether or not it will go ahead ultimately lies with the Attorney General.”
While the closure of the shop will no doubt be welcomed in most quarters, the scrapping of civil proceedings against the business could be viewed as a missed opportunity to tackle legal highs on a wider scale.
“Stopping the sale of legal highs in Larne was our goal all along,” the council source added.
“However, if we could secure a High Court injunction against the business, it would prevent the owner from selling these substances anywhere in Northern Ireland.”
Despite the uncertainty surrounding the civil proceedings, this is only one weapon in the council’s armoury.
The Mid and East Antrim authority is also seeking to initiate criminal proceedings against the business, alleging that it was in breach of consumer safety regulations.
“Whether or not the shop is closed down is irrelevant in terms of seeking a criminal prosecution,” the source concluded.