Club is fined for sales of ‘rogue vodka’

The Kaff nightclub, Clarence Yard, off Wallgate, Wigan
The Kaff nightclub, Clarence Yard, off Wallgate, Wigan
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A WIGAN nightclub stocked vodka “unfit for human consumption” with dangerous levels of poisonous alcohol, a court heard.

Owners of The Kaff were ordered to pay more than £8,000 after samples of their branded vodka tested positive for denatured alcohol.

David Collict, director of Archbrook Limited, the company that owns The Kaff and the Ibiza Bar in the town centre, pleaded guilty to the charge at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court this week.

Simon Ward, prosecuting, said officers from the council’s business compliance and improvement team visited the Clarence Yard premises in November last year following complaints of watered down vodka.

A batch of around 20 vodka bottles were found at the downstairs bar to be full but already opened. Those and some bottles from the upstairs bar were taken away for testing.

The court heard that a bar worker told the officers that the bottles had been opened to “save time”. Among the selection of bottles that were tested, one was sealed and proved to be genuine, one was unsealed, not genuine branded vodka but not dangerous. While two were unsealed, found to be not genuine, dangerous and unfit for consumption.

Mr Ward said: “The officers found that the caps and seals on some of these bottles were not the same.”

He added: “Consumption of denatured alcohol can cause vomiting, liver damage and blindness in serious cases.”

Richard Williams, defending, told the court that the company had assisted the investigating officers and provided invoices for the alcohol they had purchased from their three stockists. The Kaff only opened sporadically and its stock was delivered to Ibiza Bar and staff transferred it by car, the court was told.

He said: “This is quite a strange situation, some of the bottles are not genuine but not dangerous, some are not genuine but dangerous and some are genuine.”

Mr Williams told the court the mix of bottles showed there had not been a concerted effort to sell counterfeit goods, otherwise the whole batch would have been unfit for consumption.

He added: “The tops on the bottles sometimes spun meaning bar staff could not open them and sometimes had to resort to opening them with screwdrivers. So they had already taken the tops off.”

The company was issued with a £6,000 fine, reduced from £9,000 for their early guilty plea. They were also ordered to pay the council £2,421 for investigation costs and a victim surcharge of £120.

Addressing Mr Collict, the presiding magistrate said: “We accept you bought this alcohol from legitimate means. But the sale of this unfit vodka could have led to serious consequences. We have given you full credit for your early guilty plea.”