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A BIRKENHEAD shopkeeper who was found with more than 350 bottles of fake vodka has been left £4,000 out of pocket.

Mailvaganam Sathakaran paid £3,000 for the bogus booze and has now been fined £800 and ordered to pay £200 towards the prosecution costs.

He had denied two offences under the Food Safety Act involving possessing and exposing for sale bottles with misleading labels but a jury took just an hour to find him guilty of both charges.

The defendant, who had run the business, R & S Food and Wine in Derby Road, Birkenhead, for four years had claimed he had taken all reasonable precautions and shown due diligence.

The judge, Recorder Olivia Magennis, told 42-year-old Sathakaran, who was assisted by a Tamil interpreter, that it had been his responsibility to ensure that the products he sold were legitimate and had not carried out sufficient checks.

Helen Richardson, prosecuting, had told the Liverpool Crown Court jury that a Wirral trading standards officer Heidi Jones went to the shop on November 10, 2015 armed with a search warrant.

In the stockroom she found 336 bottles labelled "Glen's Vodka" in seven boxes in the stockroom.

Behind the till she discovered a further similar 18 bottles.

The bottles were seized and some of the liquid sent for expert analysis which revealed that it was not "Glen's Vodka".

Sathakaran said a man called Sunni had come to his shop and offered to supply "Glen's Vodka" at a price lower than he would normally pay from his wholesaler.

"He agreed to purchase some vodka and Sunni offered as good will gesture to apply a free case of Coke to the purchase.

"He said about four or five days later the man returned with the goods and he handed over just short of £3,000."

Miss Richardson said that the man handed over an invoice in the business name KP Wholesale operating from West Bromwich.

Investigations via Companies House and a VAT checker revealed no business as registered to that name and a visit to the address given also failed to find it.

Sathakaran, of Woodchurch Road, Birkenhead, told the court that Sunni had shown him his business card and had given him an invoice and he "presumed" they were legitimate and had not made further checks and did not open the boxes containing the vodka for several days.

Sathakaran, who was supported in court by his wife, no longer runs the business.