VODKA drinkers at a St Helens pub were sold methylated spirits “unfit for human consumption”, a court has heard.
Following a trading standards investigation the pub landlady, Barbara Gallimore, and her partner, Cedrick Fitzpatrick, who ran the place on her behalf, both received custodial sentences today.
Liverpool Crown Court heard that trading standards officers raided the White House and the couple’s home on Sterling Crescent, St Helens in July 2012.
They found they were selling fake whisky and vodka which was not just counterfeit but dangerous. They also recovered 810 packets of counterfeit Regal cigarettes.
Henry Riding, prosecuting, told the court that 949 fake bottles of Drops, Prince Consort Imperial and Revolution vodka as well as Dexter whisky were recovered from the two premises.
The whisky was not matured enough to be worthy of the name and the vodka contained industrial “denatured” alcohol, another name for methylated spirits which is two and half times more toxic than ethanol.
He said the alcohol could have made a profit of £46,709 for the pair and the tobacco £1,630.
Fitzpatrick, 64, and Gallimore, 71, pleaded guilty to charges involving failing to provide traceability of food; offering food for sale not of the substance demanded; placing unsafe food on the market and engaging in a prohibited commercial practice.
The judge Recorder Anthony Long, jailed 64-year-old Fitzpatrick for nine months and imposed six months on Gallimore, 71, but suspended it for a year.
He told Gallimore: "For many years you were the licensee of the White House public house in St Helens. You allocated the running of that public house to Mr Fitzpatrick.
“It is frankly hard to believe you were unaware of how he went about running it. You must bear some degree of moral responsibility for what occurred.”
He told Fitzpatrick: ”You cheated your customers by selling them products that were not what they pretended.
“Worse still than cheating your customers you were selling as vodka a substance unfit for human consumption.
“You pleaded on the basis that you did not do so deliberately but when you buy black market goods of untraceable provenance you take that risk.”
The court heard in mitigation that Gallimore was the landlady but allowed Fitzpatrick to run the pub and did not know what he was up to.
Fitzpatrick said he was storing the counterfeit booze for someone else and did not realise it was dangerous.
The court heard that he has also been recently prosecuted for operating a ”gambling den” from the White House.