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Restaurant Owner Jailed for Gross Negligence Manslaughter

The owner of a North Yorkshire based Indian restaurant has been jailed for six years following the death of a customer with a peanut allergy, after they were served a curry containing the nut.

In January 2014, 38 year old Paul Wilson ordered a tikka masala at the Indian Garden, Easingwold, North Yorkshire. He stressed to the staff that he was allergic to peanuts and asked that they ensure there was no trace of the nut in his takeaway meal.

Mr Wilson was found dead in his bathroom after suffering a severe anaphylactic shock.

Investigation

Teesside Crown Court heard that following Mr Wilson’s death, an investigation of the Indian Garden was launched by police and trading standards. They found that groundnut powder stored in the kitchen had contaminated other ingredients. Furthermore, a secret shopper visited the restaurant the day after Mr Wilson died and was assured by staff that he could order a nut-free curry.

Manslaughter by gross negligence

This week, the restaurant’s owner, Mohammed Zaman, was convicted for gross negligence manslaughter at Teesside Crown Court. The court heard how in a bid to cut costs and despite warnings, Mr Zaman swapped almond powder used in recipes for cheaper groundnut mix, which contains peanuts.

Mr Zaman was accused of manslaughter by gross negligence, perverting the course of justice and six food safety offences. He denied all charges, claiming that he left managers to run his restaurants, including ordering stock and hiring staff. He was not on the premises when the curry was sold. However, Mr Zaman was found guilty of all charges except perverting the course of justice.

Previous incident

Three weeks prior to Mr Wilson’s death, at another of Mr Zaman’s six restaurants, a teenager suffered an allergic reaction after being assured by staff that her meal would not contain nuts. The young lady had to be hospitalised due to her symptoms.

‘Reckless attitude’

Richard Wright QC, prosecuting, said:

“Mohammed Zaman received numerous warnings that he was putting his customers’ health, and potentially their lives, at risk. Tragically for Paul Wilson, Mohammed Zaman took none of those opportunities and ignored all of the warnings he was given.

“His was a reckless and cavalier attitude to risk and one that we, the prosecution, would describe as grossly negligent.”

Mr Wright added:

“Time and again he ignored the danger and did not protect his customers. The evidence will establish that Mohammed Zaman put profit before safety and that he cut corners at every turn.”

Source: The Guardian

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