A SHOPKEEPER has been convicted of selling counterfeit and super-strength alcohol from a village store.
Suman Tharmathurai, 30, sold bottles of vodka laced with nearly 20 times more alcohol than legally permitted at Stretton Village Store in Main Street, Stretton.
He also flogged bottles of counterfeit vodka bearing the labels of respected brands, such as Smirnoff and Glen’s.
Tharmathurai has now been ordered to complete 140 hours’ community service over the next year and pay £1,520 in fines and costs following his prosecution by Staffordshire County Council.
He admitted six breaches of trading regulations when he was hauled before Stafford Magistrates’ Court this week.
The court also ordered the destruction of all the illegal alcohol seized from Stretton Village Store by consumer protection workers.
Following a tip-off trading standards teams entered the shop on September 15 and December 23 last year and seized two large bottles of Red Star Vodka.
Tests showed the liquid was ‘unfit for human consumption’ because it contained 19 times the legally permitted methanol limit. Methanol is also used to make anti-freeze and can cause blindness.
Officers also recovered two bottles of counterfeit vodka disguised as Smirnoff and Glen’s during their September raid.
The labels on these bottles were also found to contain ‘false’ and ‘untruthful’ information about the ingredients. The court said the average consumer would not have bought the drinks had the true contents of the bottles been revealed.
The Mail yesterday attempted to contact Tharmathurai, who lives above his shop, but he was not available.
In a separate case Michael McGee, 42, has denied two charges of running an unlicensed sex establishment in Burton.
He is being prosecuted by Staffordshire County Council for allegedly running Heelz Adult Store off Derby Road without proper permission. McGee, of Thames Close, Derby, will face a two-day trial at Stafford Magistrates’ Court beginning on January 21 next year. He remains on bail until that date.