Bargain Booze ends franchise agreement with bootleg retailer

Bargain Booze has ended a franchise agreement with a retailer found guilty of selling an illicit brand of vodka.

Pardeep Singh Punnia, who ran the store in Church Street, Tamworth, Staffordshire, pleaded guilty to nine offences at Cannock Magistrates’ Court.

He was ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work, hand over his alcohol licence indefinitely and pay £3,376 in costs.

Staffordshire County Council trading standards officers seized several bottles of the non-existent Arctic Ice and Drops vodka brands over several visits to the store between August and November last year.

Six bottles of counterfeit Smirnoff vodka were also recovered. Punnia had no record of the purchase of the illicit stock.

One bottle of Arctic Ice was found to have 20 times the level of permitted methanol in it, enough to cause death or blindness.

Other substances linked to seizures, heart problems, vomiting, headaches and liver or kidney damage were also found in the seized spirits.

One customer, Colin Gooch of Tamworth, said his GP had told him that he could lose his sight at any point within six months of drinking the Arctic Ice. “This put me through six months of anguish, thinking every night when I went to sleep that I could wake up blind,” he said.

“I felt extremely angry and appalled that someone could sell this stuff.”

Pat Corfield, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for communities, added: “I hope this case sends out a strong message to traders that we will not tolerate the sale of counterfeit goods and will pursue those who do.”

Meanwhile, Kunaranam Kanesan was fined £1,600 and ordered to pay £3,696 costs for selling counterfeit vodka, including Arctic Ice, at Cross Heath News in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire. He also had his alcohol licence suspended for three months.

And a Premier store in Nottingham has had its licence revoked after being found selling bottles of Arctic Ice and fake litres of Russian Standard.

Chetan Patel, of the store in Tanners Walk in the city’s Broadmarsh sopping centre, was ordered to pay fines and costs totalling £2,876.

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