CLANCY’S Bar on Bruff’s Main Street was closed this Tuesday and Wednesday following a court order after 28 bottles of illicit vodka were found on the premises.
State solicitor Aidan Judge said on November 20, 2012, officers from the customs and excise carried out a routine inspection at the premises run by John Clancy.
“They discovered 28 bottles of illicit vodka, some opened, some not. It was made by a visual detection that led them to believe it was illicit liquor.
“They cautioned Mr Clancy and questioned him about their provenance. He made a full and frank admission,” said Mr Judge.
Seized samples were sent to a laboratory for examination.
“Tests proved the vodka was inconsistent with normal legal vodka on the market,” said Mr Judge, who added that Mr Clancy had no previous convictions.
“The maximum fine is €5,000 which can be mitigated to €2,500. I have no problem with full mitigation.
“He was fully co-operative,” said Mr Judge.
The court heard that there is a further sanction for this offence under the Intoxicating Liqour Act - a temporary closure order not less than two days and not more than seven days.
Mr Clancy’s solicitor, Tommy Dalton, said his client fully co-operated with the inspectors.
“He made a monumental error. He has been in business for 35 years and is of very good character.
“In these straitened times he succumbed to an offer from an unreliable source,” said Mr Dalton, who added that Mr Clancy employs six people full-time and four part-time.
“When it was analysed there was no contaminant or anything dangerous,” said Mr Dalton.
The solicitor said there was a stigma attached to a closure order.
“Coming at this busy time for premises when those in the trade are trying to get people in,” said Mr Dalton, who asked Judge Mary Larkin to keep the closure order to a minimum.
Mr Dalton said he knows Mr Clancy and his family very well.
“He is absolutely horrified and mortified. He is ashamed and is extremely sorry. I make this plea personally,” said Mr Dalton.
Judge Larkin said the offence was for failing to pay customs and excise duty on the alcohol and referred to a previous case of a similar nature before her in recent times.
“I shouldn’t say this but it seems to be a crime that doesn’t pay,” said Judge Larkin.
Mr Judge said the fine is penal.
“I know it is difficult and embarrassing,” said Judge Larkin, who allowed full mitigation of the €5,000 fine to €2,500.
She also kept the closure order to the two day minimum.
The state solicitor asked Mr Dalton to nominate what days for the closure order and Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, November 12 and 13 were chosen.