A supermarket has been banned from selling booze for four weeks after staff were caught selling alcohol to children.

The Tesco Express store in Downland Drive, Crawley, agreed to the 28 day ban after it sold booze to underage youngsters three times in as many weeks.

The case was due to be heard at Horsham Magistrates Court today, but Tesco withdrew its appeal against the ban imposed by Crawley Borough Council.

The move represents a dramatic turnaround in policy for Tesco, which has always pledged to fight any ban on alcohol sales.

Staff removed alcohol from the shelves today.

Jean Irving, licensing and public safety manager for Sussex Police, said: "This is a good result for us, and a surprise given Tesco's previous stance on the issue.

"They would have realised they could not win the case - three times in as many weeks is about as bad as it gets. People want retailers to behave responsibly. Alcohol is a drug and needs to be taken seriously."

The news comes a week after another Tesco Express store was fined £10,000 for illegally selling booze for more than two months.

The branch in Dobbins Place, Crawley, had been selling alcohol without a Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) - effectively a licensee.

The blunder was only uncovered when police caught the store selling a bottle of wine to a 16-year-old in an undercover test operation in October last year.

It emerged the store had sold alcohol without a DPS since former manager Daniel Le Roux left the company some two months earlier.

In a landmark case at Crawley Magistrates Court last week, Tesco admitted a charge of exposing alcohol for unauthorised sale by retail.

District Judge Roger Eade fined the supermarket £10,000 - half the maximum £20,000 - and ordered Tesco to pay £1,200 costs.

In court it was revealed a Tesco Express store makes an average of £4,000 a week on booze sales. The branch is currently appealing against a 28-day ban on alcohol sales and the case is still ongoing.

Last month The Argus revealed the Tesco Express in Broadwater Street, Broadwater, Worthing, was banned from selling alcohol for four weeks from July 2 after staff were caught supplying booze to children on three separate occasions.

Recently published figures show that around 25 per cent of 15 to 16-year-olds drink regularly, with 23,000 crimes nationwide attributed to drunk children.

A spokesman for Tesco said: "We take the sale of alcohol to underage people extremely seriously and continue to dedicate substantial resources to supporting our staff in tackling underage sales."