Published on March 14th, 2011 | by Dean Carr
Counterfeit booze seized in double raid
A SPOT raid on two neighbouring off-licences led to the seizure of smuggled and counterfeit booze which police fear could have been made from anti-freeze and screen wash.
Licensing officers and customs officials discovered a haul of more than 120 litres of dodgy brandy, vodka and whisky, all of which was thought to be counterfeit, in the raid on Premier Quality Foods in Greenford Road, Greenford.
They also found more than 30 litres of brandy and vodka and 16 cases of wine on which no duty had been paid, and seized more than £27,000 in cash which was being kept at the store.
Police asked councillors to revoke the shop’s alcohol licence following the spot inspection at midday on September 14, and the evidence against the owner was put forward at a hearing on Wednesday (March 9).
In a statement, licensing sergeant Nigel Charlton said: “Apart from the obvious illegality of having smuggled goods on the premises, the fact that there was a large amount of counterfeit spirits causes me even greater concern.
“The current trend to stock and sell counterfeit alcohol is obviously purely for profit. There is no tax paid and it can be bought very cheaply, thereby cynically increasing the shop’s take.
“Counterfeit spirits are manufactured from methanol, ethanol, methylated spirits, anti-freeze and screen wash. The effect of drinking any alcohol made from these chemicals can cause serious health effects including nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, drowsiness and dizziness, blurred vision leading to blindness, and breathing difficulties.”
Police said that when challenged, shopkeeper Puspanathan Balakumar gave officers ‘no plausible explanation’ for the counterfeit goods, and claimed he had bought a number of bottles from a cash and carry.
In a simultaneous raid on Sudbury Hill Food and Wine, a few doors down in Greenford Road, officers found seven bottles of spirits with counterfeit labels and two bottles with no duty-paid stamp. Police also asked for the owner’s licence to be revoked at Ealing Council’s licensing sub-committee on Wednesday.
Councillors decided not to revoke Premier Quality Food’s licence, but to suspend it for five weeks. The owners will have the chance to appeal the decision before the ban is enforced.
The decision on Sudbury Hill Food and Wine had not been made at the time of going to press.
Source : Ealing Gazette