Peterborough businessman caught selling alcohol unfit for human consumption

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A business owner from Peterborough has been fined and threatened with jail after selling alcohol which was unfit for human consumption.

Illicit bottles of vodka containing tertiary butanol, a form of industrial alcohol which is harmful to humans, was found when trading standards officers and police carried out test purchases at the premises of Venus Booze in Skegness in April 2015, Lincoln Crown Court heard today, Tuesday May 5.

Owner Hakan Tas, 39, of Cranemore, Werrington, Peterborough, admitted charges of selling alcohol unfit for human consumption, selling alcohol on which excise duty had not been paid, breach of the Trademarks Act and selling wrongly labelled products.

He was fined a total of £5,500 with the threat of a four month jail sentence if he does not pay the fine.

Daniel Brayley, prosecuting, said that the investigation revealed that the shop was also selling spirits which were wrongly labelled and had not had any excise duty paid on them.

A total of 181 illicit bottles of spirits were recovered from the store including 70 which contained tertiary butanol.

Mr Brayley said “This is a case where the defendant did not know what he was selling.

“The effect of the levels of tertiary butanol found in the alcohol would cause a severe headache but were not life threatening.”

Tas said the illegal bottles were contained in stock which was bought when he was not present.

He said the bottles were offered to another member of staff who paid £1,000 with a further similar amount to be paid on receipt of an invoice. The second amount was never paid as no invoice was received.

Nicola Devas, in mitigation, said that the shop lost its alcohol licence as a result of the incident which meant that the business closed down.

She told the court “He had run this shop for five or six years and there had never been a problem before.

“This was a one-off incident. There is no record of any similar ever happening before.

“As a result of these charges he has lost his licence to sell alcohol and that meant he could no longer run the shop.”

She said that Tas normally bought his alcohol from the local cash and carry but on this occasion his store was staffed by an employee who agreed to buy the drink from people who called at the shop.

“He has accepted that he was not alert enough and did insufficient checking so far as these bottles are concerned.”