Interesting comments in this report from Judge Michael O’Shea at Dundalk Circuit Criminal court where a 62-year-old former publican pleaded guilty to a charge of dealing in excisable products in Castletowncooley, Riverstown, Co Louth. The guilty plea coming over three years after he was arrested when an illegal vodka distilling operation was raided. From the Irish Times report.
The court heard that the entire value of the alcohol seized including VAT and excise duty was €65,767.
Passing sentence, Judge O’Shea said Smyth “was involved in doing the dirty work of the production for two men with Northern Ireland accents who leased the shed”.
He said Smyth was not involved for major gain and said it was “unfortunate” that “the untouchables” who [set] up the operation were not there when it was raided.
And from the RTÉ report
Hundreds of Smirnoff cardboard cartons were found inside the shed, as were convincing looking labels and a large stack of bottles which were to be washed.
Revenue officials also found two industrial bulk containers, one full of 1,000 litres of neutral alcohol – 94.5% proof.
There was also a forklift, a machine for resealing bottle caps and a machine for making the caps.
The alcohol would be diluted with tap water and then capped, packed and shipped off.
Mr Garland said the defendant was literally the bottle washer and that he was being paid about €100 a day for his work. He was not the main man behind the scheme.
Oh, and the sentence..
He imposed a two year jail term but suspended it on Smyth entering into a bond to be of good behaviour for three years.