Ipswich: Owner’s pledge to make improvements after his shop’s are caught selling counterfeit and illegal alcohol

The CK Food and Wine Store on Norwich Road.

The CK Food and Wine Store on Norwich Road. - Credit: Archant

An Ipswich shop owner has today pledged to make dramatic improvements after two of his off-licenses were caught selling counterfeit and illegal booze to customers.

A multi-agency operation uncovered the sale of potentially dangerous products at two branches of CK Food and Wine in the town and has resulted in both sites being hit with heavy sanctions.

The branch in Bramford Road has had its license revoked while the premises in Norwich Road has had it suspended for two months. When it is re-instated, the shop will no longer be able to sell super-strength alcohol.

Among the illicit bottles discovered was Drop vodka, which contains potentially dangerous chemicals, products which had evaded excise duty and VAT and others with less alcohol content than was stated on the bottle.

Both cases went before the borough council’s licensing sub-committee on Wednesday when the sanctions were made.

PC Craig Lannigan, of Suffolk police’s licensing department, said: “It was a very successful operation in terms of intelligence and our major concern was the counterfeit and illegal alcohol.

“Hopefully this sends out a very clear message that without any warning, and based on intelligence, a multi-agency approach can be taken and can get some incredible results.”

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The investigation was led by HM Revenue and Customs and involved the border agency, Suffolk police, Trading Standards and the borough council’s licensing authority.

Since the operation, a worker at one of the shops has voluntarily left the country.

Speaking to The Star yesterday, Chaminda Delgahawattegedara, the owner of the shops, pledged to make improvements.

He said: “I bought it in good faith but it happened two or three times and the license was revoked.

“I will definitely not let this happen again.”

Mr Delgahawattegedara has also been ordered to provide better staff training and to provide documents to prove where his alcohol is purchased from and to show it does not pose a public health risk.

Do you think the punishment for CK Food and Wine was fair? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail newsroom@archant.co.uk

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