A London business man has been found guilty of conspiring to defraud customers by adding horsemeat to batches of beef and relabelling them as pure beef.
Andronicos Sideras was convicted on Wednesday 25 July 2017 at Inner London Crown Court of mixing horsemeat and beef before selling it through his company Dino’s and Sons, following a three-week trial.
In 2013, the UK Food Standards Agency asked the City of London police to investigate the fraud, following the discovery of horsemeat in beefburgers by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.
The investigation by the Police began in 2013 into the meat trading company Flexi Food, with UK offices in Hull, which was owned by Ulrik Nielsen, 58, of Gentofte, Denmark, and Alex Beech, 44, of Sutton-on-Hull. Both have previously pleaded guilty to their part in the conspiracy.
Flexi Foods passed vast amounts of meat through to Dino’s and Sons. During the searches of Flexi Foods company offices, both in Hull and Denmark, emails and other documents were uncovered confirming the conspiracy to deliberately introduce horsemeat into the food chain in order to increase company profits.
The investigations found that during 2012 Nielsen and Beech were buying horsemeat from Ireland and sourcing beef from Poland. This meat was then all delivered to Dino’s and Sons in Tottenham. It was here that they were mixed together and relabelled with fake labels, before being sent on to other firms as part of the horsemeat scandal.
The prosecutor, Jonathan Polnay, told the court that the fraud was a simple process. “In 2012, beef sold for around €3 [£2.60] a kilogram at wholesale prices. Horsemeat was cheaper. At the time, it sold for around €2 [£1.75] a kilogram.” Money was thus made by selling the mix as 100% beef.
Sideras was arrested in July 2013 and his fingerprints were found on pallet labels attached to a consignment of mixed horse and beef meat that had been intended for burgers but had been detained in Northern Ireland. These labels had been deliberately altered to make it look as though the load was 100% beef but when it was tested it was in fact about 30% horse. The load also contained microchips for one Irish and two Polish horses that had previously been owned as pets or riding horses. Their original owners had not been aware that they had been sold on for slaughter
DC Stephen Briars, the officer who led the case for the City of London police’s fraud squad said the case had been “unique and challenging”, adding: “This is a clear case of fraud. The fact that the case revolves around meat and the food chain makes no difference to this crime. A lie is a lie whatever the circumstances.”
City of London police worked with local authorities, the Food Standards Agency and the food industry to gather the evidence needed and inquiries spanned Denmark, Ireland, Poland, France, Holland and Italy.