Fake Smirnoff vodka bar owner who 'put customers at risk' is fined £6,000
The owner of a popular seaside bar has been accused of putting his customers' health at "serious risk" after he was caught selling fake vodka.
Patrick Robert Maginn, owner of Quinn's Bar in Newcastle, Co Down, was yesterday fined £6,000 by a court for selling counterfeit Smirnoff.
No genuine Smirnoff vodka was found in the bar during tests, the court heard.
The 55-year-old businessman has been accused by Trading Standards of showing a "blatant disregard" for his customers in a bid to boost his profit margins.
The case comes just two weeks after a court ordered a month-long suspension of the bar's alcohol licence when it emerged that police had found minors in the pub last summer.
Police have also previously raised concerns in relation to violence and disorderly behaviour in and around the premises.
Quinn's Bar is a popular hotspot with both locals and holidaymakers who flock to the resort during the summer months.
At Downpatrick Magistrate's Court yesterday Maginn, of Bryansford Avenue in Newcastle, pleaded guilty to selling fake Smirnoff following an investigation by the Trading Standards Service (TSS).
In December 2014, Trading Standards officers carried out a test purchase of a one litre bottle of Smirnoff Red No 21 from Quinn's Off Sales which was immediately confirmed as counterfeit.
Officers then seized five bottles of Smirnoff Red No 21 that were also fake. Genuine Smirnoff product was mixed with the counterfeit product that was on display and offered for sale.
Officers carried out an inspection of the adjoining bar premises where 24 1.5 litre bottles of Smirnoff Red No 21 were identified as being counterfeit from the optics of the upstairs and downstairs bar areas.
All but one of the bottles were found to have fake labels. A field test of the liquid established that none of the bottles contained genuine Smirnoff product.
Alison Gilchrist, enforcement officer for the Trading Standards Service, described the offence as "very serious" and that the court fine reflected its severity.
"Mr Maginn potentially put consumers at serious risk to boost his profit margins. He was knowingly selling this product in a very popular high street location in a popular seaside town in Northern Ireland and showed a blatant disregard for his customers," said Ms Gilchrist.
She accused the bar owner of giving "little thought to the consequences of his actions."
"It is lucky that, on this occasion, nothing of a harmful nature was found in the fake vodka being sold at his premises.
"However, Mr Maginn could not have known under what conditions this alcohol was made when he sold it for consumption. We are well aware of the dangers that fake alcoholic drinks pose to those that consume them," she added.
Last month, Maginn's liquor licence was suspended for four weeks by a court after minors were caught on the premises. However, he has been granted permission to continue trading while he appeals the court ruling.
The bar's liquor licence was suspended on two occasions in 2012 due to licensing breaches.