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Events director fined for counterfeit vodka in Stockton-on-Tees

Monday, January 4, 2016

An events company and its director have been fined £2,240 for selling counterfeit vodka in Stockton-on-Tees after a successful prosecution by Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council.

After being found guilty on 9 December 2015, Neil Winterbottom and Loose Cannon Events Management Limited were sentenced at Teesside Magistrates’ Court today (4 January).

On 24 January 2014, Trading Standards officers from the Council carried out a routine inspection at a temporary event hosted by Mr Winterbottom in a unit of Bon Lea Trading Estate, Thornaby.

The court previously heard that tests on an open bottle of what was thought to be Glen’s Vodka found it was deficient in strength. Officers seized 14 bottles of the drink after finding particles in the liquid and lot numbers missing from the bottles.

Further tests by the public analyst found the liquid was 32.7 per cent ABV rather than the 37.5 per cent indicated on the label and it could not be legally sold as vodka. It was later confirmed that the product was not genuine Glen’s Vodka.

Mr Winterbottom of Roman Road, Middlesbrough, and Loose Cannon Events Management Limited, were each found guilty of one offence under Section 15 of The Food Safety Act 1990 and three offences under Section 92 of the Trade Marks Act 1994.

In mitigation, Mr Winterbottom, 40, said he had been in the licensed trade for many years and had no previous convictions. He informed the Court that he had experienced a lot of negative publicity following his conviction and in relation to the promotion of a Tom Jones concert at Alnwick Castle which was held in 2015.

Loose Cannon Events Management Limited was fined £740 while Mr Winterbottom was fined £1,500. He was ordered to pay £2,806.32 in costs. The Court also made a forfeiture and destruction order in relation to the vodka which was seized.

Councillor Steve Nelson, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Access, Communities and Community Safety, said: “The sale of counterfeit alcohol in any case shows a serious disregard not only for the law, but for the wellbeing and the safety of the consumers it is served to. The consumption of counterfeit alcohol can result in serious illness, or worse, and that is why the law about correct labels and lot numbers on legal bottles of alcohol is so strict.

“The fines incurred in this case should send a clear message to businesses and retailers to ensure they are purchasing stock from a reputable source.”

Anyone concerned about counterfeit alcohol should contact Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s Trading Standards team on 01642 526560.