Former Tipperary hurling star Lar Corbett has said he was "very surprised" when customs officials called to his pub and inspected some of his stock.
The publican and 2010 hurler of the year told Thurles district court yesterday (Tuesday) that he had receipts for bottles of vodka which subsequently became the centre of a Revenue prosecution against him.
The DPP case against Mr Corbett’s company, Marlstone Investments, was adjourned until next Tuesday after his defence lawyer asked that bottles seized from the pub be made available as exhibits in court.
A ruling on the case is expected to be made next Tuesday by Judge Elizabeth McGrath.
The prosecution against Mr Corbett, who owns Coppinger’s bar on Parnell Street in Thurles, has been the subject of a number of hearings and adjournments. Judge McGrath said yesterday that, following legal submissions from both sides, she was satisfied from previous evidence that all 23 bottles seized at the pub were “counterfeit goods”.
The court heard last month that a sample taken from one of the bottles was “neither pure vodka nor was it Smirnoff vodka”, which it purported to be, and that labelling and the lid closure on the bottles was “fake”.
Mr Corbett, through his company Marlstone Investments, denied breaching Revenue legislation by having 16.1 litres of spirits for sale at Coppinger’s Bar without having paid the appropriate rate of tax.
The offence is alleged to have been detected by Revenue officials following a visit to the bar on January 29th, 2015. The judge said yesterday that a remaining issue was that of “strict liability” and whether “due diligence” had been carried out by the defendant.
Mr Corbett was called by his barrister to give evidence and, asked what was his reaction when customs officers called to the pub in January of last year, he said: “I was very surprised, first of all, to get the call.”
He named two different businesses which he used to buy bottles of vodka for his bar and said he had receipts for the bottles in question.
Pádraig de Búrca, defending, asked if the seized bottles were in court as exhibits, to compare with genuine bottles, and was told by state solicitor Michelle O’Connell, prosecuting, that they were in a lock-up in Waterford. She said it was “not relevant” that the bottles be in court.
Judge McGrath said she didn’t see the relevance of having the bottles in court but said the defence was entitled to have such evidence produced.
She adjourned the case until next Tuesday.