Tipp star Corbett in court over fake vodka in his pub
Counterfeit vodka was discovered by Customs & Excise officers during an inspection of Tipperary hurling star Lar Corbett's pub business, a court heard.
The allegation came as Marlstone Investments Ltd, which operates Lar Corbett's Bar at Coppinger's in Thurles, contested a Revenue Commissioner charge that it had spirits for sale on which the correct alcohol tax had not been paid.
The single charge was brought by the Revenue Commissioners before Thurles District Court under the Finance Act, 2003.
Mr Corbett, who is a director of Marlstone Investments, attended the case before Judge Elizabeth MacGrath but did not address the hearing.
Judge MacGrath adjourned her ruling in the matter until next week to allow Michelle O'Connell, for the State, to address a number of legal issues arising.
Padraig de Búrca BL, for Marlstone and Mr Corbett, challenged the Customs & Excise inspection findings and the fact that vodka samples were not taken from either a drinks wholesaler or an off-licence.
This was despite the fact Mr Corbett supplied officials with receipts of the purchase of 36 bottles of 700ml Smirnoff vodka between December 29, 2014, and January 25, 2015.
During an inspection of Coppinger's Pub, a special 'authenticator' device issued by Diageo to Customs & Excise indicated irregularities with 23 bottles of 700ml Smirnoff.
The bottles were detained and a sample from one was sent to the State Laboratory.
Diageo also received a sample.
Diageo official Colin Cushley informed Customs & Excise that the Smirnoff involved was counterfeit.
Mr Cushley said the label and seal were fake - and while the glass bottle was genuine it had originated in the UK.
State Lab official Michael Doyle said he tested one of the 700ml bottles involved and found that it had an alcohol content of 34.1pc rather than the 37.5pc level required by EU law.
"It was not pure vodka...nor was it Smirnoff vodka," he said.
Mr de Búrca raised legal issues over the tax and testing elements of the prosecution.
Judge MacGrath adjourned her ruling until September 27.