Counterfeit vodka finding leads to suspended sentence

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Picture: Halton Borough Council
Picture: Halton Borough Council

Related tags Food

A man has been given a suspended sentence at Runcorn Magistrate’s Court after unsafe counterfeit vodka was found in his taxi.

Ian Baldwin, of Grangeway, pleaded guilty to 21 offences relating to counterfeit and illicit alcohol and tobacco seized from his taxi, his personal vehicle and a storage unit last December.

He was sentenced to six months and 12 weeks custody (to run concurrently, both suspended for two years) and made to pay £1000 in costs and an £80 victim surcharge.

A total of 26 litres of counterfeit vodka and 108 bottles of illicit wine (not marked with traceability information) as well as illicit hand rolling tobacco and cigarettes had a street value of over £1,700.

The vodka was found to contain i-Propanol and i-Butanol. I-Propanol is a chemical commonly found in rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizers, and certain cleaning products and i-Butanol is used in paint solvents, varnish removers and ink.

The Chekov vodka is a counterfeit version of a genuine product sold by Booker Wholesale.

Genuine Chekov vodka has a black ink jet-printed lot mark on the red bottle cap, the counterfeit product does not contain the black lot mark on the cap.

Councillor Stef Nelson, Halton Borough Council's executive board for environmental health, said: "Inadequate traceability undermines consumer confidence in the food supply chain and puts consumers at risk when food authorities and businesses are unable to implement an effective withdrawal of unsafe food.

"Had adequate traceability been available for these products then consumers and other agencies could have been provided with information to prevent the consumption of the product and withdraw it from the market.”

The prosecution was by Halton Trading Standards (for illicit and counterfeit products) and Halton Environmental Health (for food safety and food labelling issues).

Baldwin was working as a taxi driver in Chester and was stopped during a joint Halton Borough Council and Cheshire Police operation.

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