Bootleggers used Polish workers.

Posted: July 13, 2010 in Law & Disorder

IlieA gang of six bootleggers were jailed after their fake vodka and tobacco business avoided more than £10m in tax.

Their vodka factory in Dalston, Hackney, east London, made more than 1,3 million litres of the vodka in a rat-infested warehouse and was staffed by Polish workers turning out 24 bottles a minute.

I hope all that vodka is not going to be poured down the drain to pollute our water!

The gang had also set up a tobacco farm in Enfield, north London, which could produced 9,5 tons of counterfeit Golden Virginia hand rolling tobacco at the rate of 100 pouches per minute. The tobacco farm was raided before the product could be sold but forged leaf, ready for sale and worth £700,000, was seized.

Polish workers, brought to the UK solely to work in the warehouses, were housed in sub-standard on-site accommodation, enabling the gang to run a 24/7 operation. HMRC said the packaging of the vodka and tobacco was so convincing the public would have been unaware that they were not buying the real thing.

The six were charged with Conspiracy to Cheat the Public Revenue of £16m in duty and VAT on the vodka and £800 000 on the tobacco.

They were jailed at Southwark Crown Court.

Harvey Conroy of Totteridge Park, London, was sentenced to 12 years – Steve Davies of South Quay Square, London to 10 years -Michael Oliver of Newport, Gwent to 10 years and Geoffrey Hall of Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire to 10 years. Alan Saunderson of north London was sentenced to eight years and Christopher Hill of Newport, Gwent, received 6-1/2 years.

Still on the subject of alcohol

IlieRochester and Strood MP Mark Reckless has apologised after getting drunk before a crucial vote, he said: “I am terribly embarrassed.” I bet, I suppose their p*ss up was at the taxpayers’ expense too.

The Tory MP got drunk on the House of Commons terrace last Tuesday evening. He was among a number of MPs who took part in a six-hour drinking session, which happened in the run-up to a vote on the Finance Bill which took place at 2.07am.

The Conservatives issued a three-line whip on the debate, meaning all MPs had to stay until the end, although Mr Reckless chose not to vote because of the state he was in.


IlieGravesham’s Labour candidate at the general election, Kathryn Smith, is due in court after being charged with drink-driving. She crashed her car into a roundabout in Dartford just days before the election.

Smith has been charged with driving while above the legal alcohol limit and will appear before magistrates. Former Bexley council leader and deputy mayor Smith, of Cambridge Avenue, Welling, had to be cut from her Renault Laguna by firefighters after the incident in Bob Dunn Way, on April 26. Kent Police said she was charged on Saturday and will appear at Dartford Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, July 27.

Police trapped in security van.

IlieTwo police officers became trapped after attempting to free a driver from a faulty security van last week.

The police constables attended the stricken van in Twydall Green on Thursday, July 8 after the panic alarm went off. Shoppers called the police after the vehicle started to broadcast the message: “This van is under attack. Call the police.”

Two officers on the scene decided that one of them could gain access by climbing through a roof hatch to rescue the driver, but after getting into the van, the officer was unable to escape.

The second officer managed to enter the van through the front, but a few seconds later she realised she was also trapped when the door shut behind her.

Six officers and the security firm eventually passed on the code to the driver to reset the faulty alarm and release the police after their 10 minute lock in.


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