A trader who sold fake vodka described in court as ‘not fit for human consumption’ has been spared jail.
Safir Uddin, 55, peddled the toxic liquor to an undercover trading standards official on two separate occasions.
The first batch – 12 one-litre bottles of vodka, labelled as Glen’s – contained methanol, a harmful chemical which if consumed can cause blindness, coma or death.
This wholly unacceptable act put people’s safety at risk
Both batches contained alcohol levels significantly below the minimum proof to be sold as vodka.
Sharon Watson, prosecuting, told Preston Crown Court that Blackpool Council Trading Standards officers became aware counterfeit vodka was being sold in the resort in December 2014.
An officer called a mobile phone number and arranged for a delivery to be made on December 19.
He paid £125 for the vodka, which was then sent to Glen’s for testing where it was found to be fake.
In October 2015 the officer placed a second order of 40 miniature bottles of Glen’s.
He agreed to collect the £120 order from a van parked in the carpark of Costcutters in Exchange Street.
These too contained less than the required alcohol level to be labelled as vodka – although this batch did not contain methanol.
Uddin was take in for questioning and denied any wrongdoing. However 102 sticky labels, bearing the Glen’s logo were found at his home.
Philip Andrews, defending, told the court his client had not made much money from the sales and his offending fell ‘at the lower end of the scale’ for trademark offences.
Uddin pleaded guilty to three counts of unlawful use of a registered trademark, two relating to the vodka and one to the labels.
Recorder Mukhtar Hussain, sentencing, said: “You were selling this counterfeit vodka and you were involved when a test purchase was made 10 months later.
“The owners of a copyright are entitled to be protected. This type of offence undermines reputable companies.
“Added in your case is the fact that the contents of the first purchase, the liquid was toxic and not fit for human consumption.
“I will assume that no damage was caused to anyone but if it wasn’t fit for consumption and somebody had consumed it, I can just imagine the difficulties they would have had to go through.”
The judge handed Uddin a six month sentence suspended for 18 months and ordered him to undertake 80 hours of unpaid work. He also ordered he pay £1500 costs and an £80 surcharge.
Coun Gillian Campbell, deputy leader of Blackpool Council, said: “This act was wholly unacceptable and put people’s safety at serious risk.
“This was crime on an industrial scale, and we found over one hundred sheets of labels ready to stick on this fake vodka and sell to off-licences as though it was the real deal.
“Our public protection team have yet again done some excellent work.
“Generally, if a deal sounds too cheap to be true, then it probably is.”
Report concerns on (01253) 478375.