Two are fined over bootleg vodka sale

29 June, 2007

Potentially lethal spirit contained anti-freeze

Two drinks shop owners from Burnley have been fined for selling potentially lethal counterfeit vodka.

Nasir Mahmood and Asif Javed, who own shops in Coal Clough Lane and Raglan Road, admitted selling bottles of toxic Kremlin vodka at £7.99 for a litre.

The drink, which had a plain red front label and no back label, contained 16 times the legal limit of methanol - a form of alcohol used as anti-freeze that is put in bootleg vodka to create alcohol content without distillation. It can cause stomach cramps, vomiting, blindness, liver damage and can even be fatal.

Mahmood, of Raglan Road, Burnley, pleaded guilty to seven charges under the Trades Description and Food Safety Acts and was fined

£560 at Reedley Magistrates' Court. Javed,

of Colne Road, admitted four charges and was fined £320.

The court heard that

one customer suffered abdominal pains and vomiting for two days after sharing a bottle of Kremlin vodka with his 19-year-old girlfriend.

Chris Knight, of Manchester Road, said: "It was a litre bottle which looked like a normal clear bottle of vodka.

"The first time I drank it I felt OK, I was a bit rough the next day but I thought that was normal after drinking vodka. On the last occasion we had to come home because we felt so ill."

Trading Standards officers are warning retailers to look out for more bottles of Kremlin vodka.

Lancashire County Council Trading Standards head Jim Potts said: "Hopefully any person who has worked in the licensed trade would immediately be suspicious because the bottle is so amateurishly put together."

Mahmood also admitted selling bootleg cigarettes and tobacco, as did shop assistant Qaiser Mahmood. Fake packets of Mayfair, Lambert & Butler

and Golden Virginia tobacco carried no health warnings and were found by Trading Standards officers hidden

in a secret compartment in

a hollowed-out window sill.




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Richard Hemming MW: beware inverse snobbery

Few things can bring communal pleasure so intimately as wine. Apart from a hot tub, perhaps. Sport can trigger mass jubilation, film gives us shared empathy, but wine has a nigh-unique ability to bestow conviviality among us through a shared bottle – which makes it especially galling that we spend so much time divided over it.

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