£2k fine for selling fake vodka in shop
THE owners of an off-licence caught selling fake vodka have been left stunned after being ordered to pay almost £2,000 by a court.
Married couple Pritpal Singh and Sukihwinder Kaur were taken to court by Staffordshire Trading Standards.
It comes after the couple's Talke News store was raided by trading standards last year in a counterfeit alcohol crackdown.
The Newcastle Road store was banned from selling alcohol for two weeks by councillors on Newcastle Borough Council's licensing committee in July for selling the fake booze.
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Now the couple have been ordered to pay £1,906.86 in fines and costs after admitting three trading standards offences.
Singh and Kaur were both ordered to pay a £465 fine and £473 costs when they appeared at Stafford Magistrates' Court.
Singh bought the alcohol from two men who came into his shop in October.
Following the court case, the 54-year-old said: "We get so many people coming into the store trying to sell us things and I had no reason to suspect these men.
"They said the alcohol was left over from their store, which had closed."
Singh bought two cases of Admiral Vodka for £80 – only for it to be seized three days later by trading standards.
Tests revealed it contained seven times the legal maximum levels of methanol for human consumption.
Singh added: "We are surprised by the amount we've been fined because we only made one mistake and we admitted it.
"We never set out to kill anybody for the sake of making more money."
Customer Tom Hasall, aged 26, of Unity Way, Talke, said: "I've never had any complaints and always pop in to the shop. "They've admitted they did something wrong and should be given the chance to move on."
Trading standards officers visited 400 businesses in their fake booze crackdown. They found counterfeit alcohol in 73 stores and seized more than 1,800 bottles of booze.
Staffordshire County Council's cabinet member for communities Councillor Pat Corfield said: "Selling counterfeit alcohol demonstrates a serious disregard for the law and to the communities these businesses serve.
"We need to protect the people in our communities from those who will exploit and endanger them for a quick buck.
"Fake alcohol is extremely dangerous and can cause lifelong disabilities which was recognised by the magistrates. "The fines should be a clear warning to other businesses and retailers considering selling counterfeit alcohol."