Suspended prison sentence for seller of fake vodka

A man from Yatton has been sentenced to 20 weeks imprisonment, suspended for two years and 100 hours unpaid work, when he appeared at Bristol Crown Court, on Friday 4 September.

Andreas Antounas, 55, of Stowey Road pleaded guilty on 26 June this year, at North Somerset Magistates Court, to a number of offences, including a breach of Food Safety legislation. Due to the seriousness of the offence, the case was referred to the crown court for sentencing.

In December 2014, in the lead up to Christmas, Antounas sold 47 bottles of the ‘vodka’ to a local licensee. The licensee, a member of the local pubwatch scheme was suspicious about the legitimacy of the vodka and contacted the authorities. Samples of the fake Smirnoff vodka was sent for testing by Trading Standards and was shown to contain iso-propanol, a chemical commonly found in screenwash and antifreeze. The vodka was unsafe and could have caused liver or kidney damage or even result in a coma after as little as a few glasses.

North Somerset Trading Standards together with Avon and Somerset Constabulary visited local clubs and convenience stores to prevent the supply of dangerous counterfeit vodka on the run-up to the main Christmas week. Antounas remained ‘tight-lipped’ throughout the investigation and did not assist Trading Standards during the search for the contaminated product.

The Judge, Mr Recorder Tindal, said that "(Antounas) frustrated legitimate enquiries of Trading Standards…(and he) did not really care or think about whether (the vodka) was dangerous."

A spokesman for North Somerset Council said:"The risk to human health was so significant that North Somerset Trading Standards and police mobilised officers to remove the contaminated vodka from circulation and to raise awareness amongst the licensing trade. "This man showed reckless disregard for the health and well-being of others in the community, failed to assist the authorities who were investigating the matter and received a suitable sentence reflecting this. We will continue to work closely with the police to protect our residents from this type of criminal harm."

If you suspect that you have been supplied with counterfeit alcohol contact North Somerset Trading Standards 03454 040 506.

Story courtesy of North Somerset Council www.n-somerset.gov.uk