A shopkeeper who sold fake vodka that could cause drinkers to go blind has been fined £16,000.
The toxic tipple was found to contain 235 times the legal level of methanol when tested in a lab.
An inspection by Surrey County Council Trading Standards uncovered 14 bottles of the counterfeit Glen’s Vodka on sale at the Daily Needs convenience store in Staines Road West, Ashford, in September last year.
Further investigation revealed the store had received two cases of the fake booze from a man selling it from the back of a white van, in 35cl and 75cl bottles. Just 100cl (1 litre) could cause blindness.
Shopkeeper Jagjeet Singh Chopra, 36, of Staines Road West, Ashford, was fined £16,000 at Staines Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 6 December. He had previously pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing counterfeit goods and two counts of placing unsafe food on the market.
Kay Hammond, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: “The level of methanol in this counterfeit vodka was so high that it could have caused drinkers to go blind. The drink was clearly a danger and I dread to think what may have happened if we hadn’t pulled it off the shop shelves so quickly.
“There are strict rules in place to make sure the food and drink we buy isn’t dangerous to our health. We put our trust in the people who sell it to us and they must take that responsibility seriously. Shopkeepers should buy their stock from reputable traders, not from someone selling it cheap from the back of a white van.”
Anyone who spots alcohol for sale that they suspect may be counterfeit should call Consumer Direct on 01622 626520.
For further information and interviews, journalists can contact Surrey County Council senior media relations officer James Oxley at firstname.lastname@example.org