The former owner of a Worksop restaurant who breached safety and food hygiene regulations has avoided being sent to prison.
But he was banned from ever running a food business again.
Worksop magistrates heard how Mohammed Abdul Kashem, 38, had risked causing a gas explosion or E.coli outbreak because of how he managed Monsoon in Ryton Street.
Bassetlaw Council brought the prosecution against him after officials carried out numerous inspections on the Indian restaurant.
On some occasions their improvement notices were complied with, but on others the promises were ‘filthy’.
The court heard how the restaurant had a history of non-compliance stretching back to 2010.
Monsoon closed its doors earlier this year. New owners have now transformed it into an Italian bistro.
Magistrates were told that inspectors had serious concerns about Monsoon after discovering a catalogue of safety and hygiene sins.
The kitchen was found to be in a ‘filthy’ state, said Mrs Lisa Gilligan, prosecuting on behalf of the council.
Floor tiles were broken, surfaces and food storage areas were dirty, and food like poppadoms and onion bhajis were stored in plastic bags and wrapped in newspaper, the court heard.
Food was also being kept in fridges which were running at dangerously high temperatures of between 11 and 13 degrees C, which could have led to food poisoning bacteria, like E.coli, to grow.
Magistrates were shown graphic photos of the evidence collected by the council.
Inspections also revealed that Kashem was in serious breach of gas safety regulations.
The court heard that on 21st December 2011, a gas engineer attended over concerns about ‘the release of combustible gas’ in the kitchen, said Mrs Gilligan.
A gas oven in the kitchen did not have a working safety device to prevent gas escaping, and another safety device on a Tandoori oven had been deliberately disabled.
“The council would say it is fortunate that we are not standing here detailing with an outbreak of E.coli or some other similar outbreak or even a gas explosion,” Mrs Gilligan had told the court at an earlier hearing.
Kashem, who lives in Leeds, was visibly upset in court as he waited for his sentence on Thursday 28th February.
Defending him, Mr Peter Bilton said he had suffered with mental health problems and anxiety.
Mr Bilton said the economic downturn had resulted in a loss of income, which meant Kashem struggled to meet the costs of repairing and maintaining the old building.
He said this put pressure on the family and Kashem’s wife moved to Leeds.
Kashem struggled to run the business from West Yorkshire and began suffering from depression, he added.
The court heard Kashem focused on front-of-house standards and struggled to employ the right staff for the kitchen.
“He realises there is a penalty to be paid and there is a suggestion he has buried his head in the sand to a degree,” said Mr Bilton.
“At the end of the day the hob was potentially a risk, and more by luck than judgement, no-one was hurt.”
“He is not wanting to go back into the restaurant business and is actively looking for work in an alternative profession.”
“It would be inappropriate to remove him of his liberty today, when he pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity. He was vulnerable at the time and remains vulnerable now.”
Chair of the magistrates’ bench Alan Burkwood sentenced Kashem to a total of 52 weeks imprisonment for the various offences, but suspended the sentence for 12 months.
He must have 12 months probation service supervision and do 100 hours unpaid work.
And he is banned from ever managing a food business again.
Finally, he was ordered to pay £1,000 towards the cost of the prosecution.
“Some of the photos we saw were fairly graphic to say the least,” said Mr Burkwood.
“We have not sent you to prison because we have taken into account your health, family commitments and also believe you are at a low risk of re-offending.”
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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