A crooked pub boss and his partner ripped off customers for their own benefit and put them in danger by serving spirits that were “unfit for human consumption”.
Pensioner Barbara Gallimore, landlady of the White House in St. Helens, Merseyside, appeared in court alongside Cedrick Fitzpatrick, who ran the pub on her behalf.
The proceedings followed an investigation by Trading Standards.
Officers raided the White House in July 2012, as well as the couple’s home in the town, and found they were selling fake whiskey and vodka which was not just counterfeit – but dangerous.
They also recovered 810 packets of counterfeit Regal cigarettes, the Liverpool Echo reports.
Henry Riding, prosecuting, told the court that 949 fake bottles of Drops, Prince Consort Imperial and Revolution vodka as well as Dexter whiskey were recovered from the pub and their home.
But the whiskey was not matured enough to be worthy of the name and the vodka contained industrial “denatured” alcohol – another name for methylated spirits – which is two-and-a-half times more toxic than ethanol.
He said the booze alone could have netted the pair a profit of £46,709 and the tobacco £1,630.
Fitzpatrick, 64, pleaded guilty to failing to provide traceability of food; offering food for sale not of the substance demanded; placing unsafe food on the market and engaging in a prohibited commercial practice.
Gallimore, 71, admitted similar but fewer offences.
The court heard that Gallimore was the landlady but allowed Fitzpatrick to run the pub and didn’t know what he was up to.
Fitzpatrick said he was storing the counterfeit booze for someone else and didn’t realise it was dangerous.
He had also been recently prosecuted for operating a ”gambling den” from the White House.
Recorder Anthony Long, said: “For many years Mrs Gallimore you were the licensee of the White House public house in St Helens.
“You allocated the running of that public house to Mr Fitzpatrick.
“It is frankly hard to believe you were unaware of how he went about running it. You must bear some degree of moral responsibility for what occurred.”
He told Fitzpatrick: ”You cheated your customers by selling them products that were not what they pretended.
“Worse still than cheating your customers, you were selling as vodka a substance unfit for human consumption.
“You pleaded on the basis that you did not do so deliberately but when you buy black market goods of untraceable provenance you take that risk.”
He jailed Fitzpatrick for nine months and Gallimore for six months although he suspended her sentence for a year .