A pub in a Cheshire village has been fined £2,454 for watering down spirits following an investigation by Cheshire West and Cheshire Council Regulatory Services.
Jia Tong Chen, manager of The Dunham Arms in Dunham-on-the-Hill pleaded guilty to nine offences in respect of himself and The Dunham Arms Ltd of selling watered-down spirits.
Officers from the council’s Regulatory Services department visited the pub in November 2019 and used electronic devices to discover that the alcohol strength was less than it should have been.
Chen told officers that every time he refilled wall-mounted bottles at the bar, he used new smaller bottles which he rinsed out with water so as not to waste any of the spirit residues. He then poured the water/residue mix into the larger bottles before remounting them onto the wall.
At Chester Magistrates Court on February 17, The Dunham Arms Ltd was fined £125 for each offence, and Chen was fined £40 for each offence, totalling £1,125 and £360 respectively. The company was also ordered to pay £620 costs and a £113 victim surcharge, and Chen was ordered to pay £200 costs and a £36 victim surcharge.
In sentencing, the judge said consumers have a right to know that the alcohol they buy is at the advertised strength.
It was mentioned in court that the company and Chen did not intend to create excess profit and are of previous good character. It was also noted that Chen is a valued member of the community in which he lives, and the business provides a valuable service.
The Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport, Councillor Karen Shore said: “The judge acknowledged there was no intent to create excess profit and we accept that decision. However, the public must have confidence that they actually receive what they are paying for when purchasing alcohol. Our Regulatory Services officers work hard to ensure that businesses are trading fairly and safely for residents in the borough.”