Pubs and Bars

Chester Pub manager found guilty of watering down spirits

It was mentioned in court that the company and manager did not ‘intend to create excess profit’

A pub in West Chester and its manager faces a £2,454 fine after the manager was found to be watering down the alcohol it served to customers. 

Jia Tong Chen, manager of the Dunham Arms on Chester Road, Dunham on the Hill, pleaded guilty to nine offences in respect of himself and Dunham Arms Limited of selling spirits which had been watered down.

At Chester Magistrates Court on Wednesday, 17 February, the Dunham Arms Ltd company was fined £125 for each offence, totalling £1,125, with Chen fined £40 for each offence, totalling £360.

The company was ordered to pay £620 costs and a £113 victim surcharge, with Chen to pay £200 costs and a £36 victim surcharge.

Regulatory services officers from the local council visited the Dunham Arms in November 2019 and used “electronic devices to check the beers and spirits, discovering the alcohol strength was less than it should have been”.

Chen told officers that every time he “refilled the larger wall-mounted bottles on the bar, he used new smaller bottles which he rinsed out with water so not to waste any of the spirit residues”. He then poured the water/ residue mix into the larger bottles before remounting them onto the wall.

In sentencing, the judge said it was a case, not involving food safety, but to instil “public confidence that when they buy an alcoholic drink they have the right to expect the alcohol is at the advertised strength, and that was the harm caused in this case”.

It was mentioned in court that the company and Chen did not “intend to create excess profit” and he is a “valued member of the community in which he lives, and the business provides a valuable service”.

Councillor Karen Shore, deputy leader and cabinet member for environment, highways and strategic transport, said: “The judge acknowledged there was no intent to create excess profit and we accept that decision. 

“However, the public must have confidence that they actually receive what they are paying for when purchasing alcohol. Our regulatory services officers work hard to ensure that businesses are trading fairly and safely for residents in the borough.”

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