Vodka bootlegger is jailed

15 February, 2013

A West Midlands man has been jailed for 12 months for his part in a fake vodka-making operation in Birmingham city centre.

Michael Woodcock, of Greswold Street, West Bromwich, pleaded guilty to fraudulent evasion of duty.

The illegal distillery, in Brewery Street, was raided by HM Revenue & Customs officers in July 2011, just days after an explosion at an illicit vodka plant in Boston, Lincolnshire, killed five people.

The Birmingham haul included 2,500 litres of vodka branded Arctic Ice, bulk liquid containers of industrial alcohol, 67,500 bottle tops, 8,400 empty 70cl bottles and a labelling machine.

Seizures of Arctic Ice were subsequently made from independent stores in Birmingham, Hereford, Shropshire, Staffordshire and Worcester.

Two other men were each sentenced to four months in prison, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work: Gavin Berrow, of Amblecote Road, Brierly Hill and Alex Rollason, of Halesowen Road, Cradley Heath.

Adrian Farley, assistant director of criminal investigation for HMRC, said the haul had “the potential of costing the UK taxpayer £500,000 in lost revenue”.

In a separate prosecution, an Oxford convenience store was fined after bot- tles of Arctic Ice were on sale with levels of chemicals that could have led to heart problems and brain damage, according to Oxfordshire trading standards.

The company, Iffley, of Iffley Road, was fined £4,000 for stocking unsafe vodka and failing to identify the supplier. Director Mohammed Uddin and company secretary Mohammed Kadir were each fined £2,000.

Meanwhile, Cardiff trading standards officers have warned of a fake batch of Selekt Imperial vodka on sale in the area. The rogue supplies contain high levels of chemicals found in de-icer and cleaning fluids.




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Rosé tinted glasses

I was asked recently what I thought the biggest change had been in wine fashion in the past five years. My answer was unequivocal: sales of pink wines. From being a niche that expanded and contracted with the sunshine, rosé has subtly but steadily become a stalwart of many merchants’ ranges, with Provence firmly at the top and asked for by name.

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