Hurler in court over ‘counterfeit vodka’

Bottles seized in the pub owned by former hurler of the year Lar Corbett were found to contain “counterfeit vodka”, a court has been told.

Mr Corbett, through his company Marlstone Investments, has denied breaching Revenue legislation by having 16.1 litres of spirits for sale at his pub in Thurles, Co Tipperary, without having paid the appropriate tax.

The offence is alleged to have been detected by Revenue officials after a visit to his Coppinger’s Bar, Parnell St, Thurles, on January 29, 2015.

The case was adjourned yesterday at Thurles district court when Judge Elizabeth McGrath gave the prosecution time to address a legal point made by Mr Corbett’s defence lawyer that there was “no evidence” put before the court in relation to the correct rates of tax.

The court was told by Michael Doyle of the state laboratories that a sample taken from one of 23 bottles taken from the bar “was neither pure vodka nor Smirnoff vodka,” which it purported to be. EU regulations stipulate that vodka must have an alcohol level of 37.5% while this sample’s alcohol level was 34.1%, Mr Doyle said.

Colin Cushley of Diageo, said that the closure on a bottle given to him for testing was “fake” and the Smirnoff labelling was “fake”.

Customs official Sarah Cushnahan said she sent two of the bottles to Diageo and the state laboratories. A report from Diageo said it was “counterfeit vodka” and from the state lab said “it wasn’t consistent with Smirnoff vodka”.

She said Lar Corbett named a wholesalers and an off-licence from whom they bought vodka, and gave receipts to Ms Cushnahan. He had never ordered counterfeit vodka, he told her. The customs official visited both named premises and found that bottles of Smirnoff there “appeared genuine”.

State solicitor Michelle O’Connor asked for time to address that issue and the judge adjourned the case until September 27.


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