A PENRITH shop owner has been fined more than £2,200 after he admitted illegally displaying Romanian vodka for sale in his shop.

Carlisle Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday heard how Ionel Ficau, owner of Romanian World on King Street, had ignored a previous warning from Eden Council and was again found with alcohol in his shop.

Prosecuting on behalf of the council, Alex Strickland told the court: “There was alcohol for sale on the premises without the benefit of a licence.

“There were five large plastic containers displayed in the shop, in front of soft drinks. “

Ficau, 46, was caught red-handed by licensing chiefs on October 16, saying the alcohol “must’ve been given by mistake”.

He had originally told licensing officers that the containers were filled with cooking oil, before later saying vinaigrette. Tests by Lancashire County found the alcohol by volume of the vodka was 40.5 per cent, which is higher than a standard bottle of Smirnoff - which is 37.5 per cent.

Sara Budniak, defending, said: “There is no evidence within the list of items ordered to indicate who has ordered these items. By speaking to my friend, I don’t believe the warehouse in Glasgow was prepared to provide a statement.”

Miss Budniak said there was no evidence the vodka had been sold and said her client claimed the vodka was being stored for a family celebration.

Ficau was fined £1,600, ordered to pay £480 costs and a £160 victim surcharge.