Ipswich: Ex-pub owner of Whitton Maypole pub in court for selling diluted vodka

IPSWICH: The former owner of a pub who sold watered-down vodka has been given a conditional discharge after claiming it was diluted by someone else.

Trading Standards officers visited the Whitton Maypole pub in Old Norwich Road, Ipswich on March 2 last year after receiving a complaint from a member of the public, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Two bottles of Smirnoff vodka in the bar were examined and tests showed the contents had been mixed with another brand of vodka and water, said Angela Lambert, prosecuting.

She said the alcohol strength of the vodka had been reduced from 37.5 per cent to 28pc in one bottle and from 37.5pc to 31.5pc in the other.

When David Clarke was questioned he said he was responsible for the pub as the leaseholder and was responsible for purchasing spirits.

However he had voiced concerns that a tenant at the property had been watering down the alcohol.

Clarke, 61, who is currently serving a jail term for offences including driving while disqualified and failing to provide a breath specimen, pleaded guilty to two offences under the Food Safety Act of falsely describing or presenting food for sale.

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He was given a conditional discharge for 18 months. An application for �3,600 prosecution costs was turned down by Recorder Gerard Pounder after he was told by Warwick Aleeson, for Clarke, that he did not have the means to pay a costs order.

Sentencing Clarke, Recorder Pounder said, “You were the owner of the pub and bought the spirits. It is accepted by the prosecution you weren’t the person responsible for the adulteration of the spirits. If you had been, the punishment would have been more severe.”

He told Clarke he had a responsibility to ensure that members of the public weren’t cheated by being sold alcohol that was of a lower strength than they were expecting.

He said he was prepared to take a lenient course because of Clarke’s circumstances.

“Life hasn’t been particularly kind to you over the last few years,” he said.

Mr Aleeson told the court that Clarke’s wife of 37 years had died three years ago of cancer and since then Clarke had suffered from depression and had turned to drink.

He said Clarke, who has been teetotal since December, was in poor health and was unlikely to return to the pub trade in the future.