Shopkeeper Fined For Selling Illegal Vodka

A Dorset shopkeeper who sold vodka containing 10 times the legal level of methanol has been given a two-year conditional discharge and fined £1,600.

After being prosecuted by Dorset County Council's trading standards service, Mr Erkan Hinisli, 29, of Turbary Wines at Turbary Road, Ferndown, pleaded guilty to food safety offences. 

The offences included selling drink containing prohibited levels of methanol, selling vodka which was under strength, and not being able to identify his supplier. He also pleaded guilty to one offence of selling vodka falsely bearing customs 'duty paid' labels, which gave the impression the bottles were legal. 

The court heard how the trading standards service had received a complaint from a customer claiming the vodka had made him feel ill, rather than drunk. 

The illegal vodka

Officers visited the shop and made a test purchase of the 'Granton' brand vodka, which was then analysed. It was discovered that the customs 'duty paid' stamps were counterfeit and officers returned to the shop and seized 72 bottles of vodka and two bottles of whisky. 

Mr Hinisli later said that he had bought the spirits from a man who called at his shop in a white van and claimed to be representing a local cash and carry. The spirits were cheaper than he usually paid and no receipt was provided. 

In sentencing, the court took the small monthly wage Mr Hinsili was earning from the shop and his previous good character into account.

Chairman of the magistrates, said: "You took a risk to get more profit, despite the risk to the public."

Ivan Hancock, trading standards service manager at Dorset County Council, said: "Our priority when this came to light was to make sure members of the public were not put at risk. Officers visited local independent off-licences in the area after these spirits were seized, but no other stocks of this vodka were found. Food and drink retailers must be cautious about what they are selling to consumers. Any trader who buys stock, particularly alcohol, from an untraceable source such as casual van sales, and without proper invoices, is not thinking about the safety of their customers."

Anyone who has recently bought this brand of vodka should contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 08454 04 05 06.