Leicester

Leicestershire fake vodka farm: Seven men on trial

Seven men have gone on trial accused of involvement in a plot to avoid the duty on vodka they are alleged to have distilled on a Leicestershire farm.

They have all denied conspiracy to cheat the taxpayer out of about £1.5m.

The jury at Nottingham Crown Court was shown how an illegal vodka factory was hidden in an industrial unit on a farm near Little Dalby.

An eighth man has admitted his role in illegally manufacturing and bottling and will be sentenced later.

Fake drinks labels

The court was told a "sophisticated operation" was discovered in September 2009.

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) seized more than 9,000 bottles full of counterfeit vodka, along with fake drinks brand labels and manufacturing equipment.

Five men from Nottinghamshire have denied taking part.

Kevin Eddishaw, 54, from Southwell; John Mark Humphreys, 46, from Edingley; Stuart Bemrose, 43, from Keyworth; Dean John Ironmonger, 50, from Wysall and Mark Timothy Gyles, 48, deny conspiracy to cheat HMRC of the duty payable on alcoholic products.

Michael James Matthews, 56, from Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset, and Wojciech Jan Herbst, 55, from Poland, have also pleaded not guilty.

Defendant Mr Herbst was not in court, the jury was told not to speculate about why he was not there.

The jury heard there will be evidence that the men on trial used "dirty" pay-as-you-go phones so they could not be traced.

James Fyfe, 51, from Arnold in Nottinghamshire, was arrested at the Leicestershire farm and has admitted involvement in the plot to avoid paying tax duty, the court heard.

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