London

Businessman guilty of mixing horsemeat with beef

Andronicos Sideras Image copyright PA
Image caption Andronicos Sideras claimed he was just storing the meat for another company

A businessman has been found guilty of being part of a £200,000 conspiracy to pass off horsemeat as beef, much of which went on to enter the food chain.

Andronicos Sideras, 55, was convicted at Inner London Crown Court of mixing horsemeat with beef before selling it on through his company Dinos & Sons.

Danish-owned company FlexiFoods would get horsemeat and beef delivered from Europe to Dinos & Sons in Tottenham.

Flexifoods' Ulrik Nielsen and Alex Beech admitted their part in the plot.

Labels and paperwork were fabricated to make the mixed meat appear like pure beef, before it was sold on to food manufacturers making products for a "vast range of well-known companies", prosecutor Jonathan Polnay told the trial.

Image copyright City of London Police
Image caption The plot came to light after horse identification chips were found in the meat by inspectors

The conspiracy involved 30 tonnes of horsemeat, 20 of which were destined for the food chain and 10 of which were sent to a cold store elsewhere, police said.

City of London Police said officers investigating the horsemeat scandal sifted through 12 tonnes of animal flesh by hand as part of its probe.

The overall face value of the fraud was £177,000 but the true cost was likely to have run into millions of pounds, the force added.

At the time beef could be sold for three Euros per kilogram while horsemeat was cheaper at two Euros per kilogram, the court heard.

The plot only came to light after horse identification chips were found in the meat by inspectors in 2012.

Image copyright City of London Police
Image caption The chips belonged to two horses from Poland and one from Ireland

The chips belonged to two horses named Trak and Wiktor from the Lodz region of Poland, and a third Irish Hunter horse called Carnesella Lady from county Galway.

The animals had not been sold for slaughter and there is no suggestion the owners had any involvement in the conspiracy, police said.

Sideras, of Southgate, north London, had denied the charge of conspiracy to defraud claiming he had only stored the product for FlexiFoods.

He was released on bail ahead of sentencing alongside Nielsen, of Gentofte in Denmark, and Beech, from Sutton-on-Hull, on Monday at Inner London Crown Court.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites