JAILED:

Take­away bosses locked-up for 5 years over Me­gan al­lergy death

Accrington Observer - - FRONT PAGE - JON MACPHER­SON jon.macpher­son@reach­plc.com @JonMacMEN

TWO take­away bosses have been jailed for the man­slaugh­ter of 15-year-old Me­gan Lee who suf­fered an al­ler­gic re­ac­tion to a meal.

Nut al­lergy suf­ferer Me­gan (pic­tured right) died from an asthma at­tack af­ter she ate food from the Royal Spice take­away in Oswaldtwistle.

Take­away owner Mo­hammed Ab­dul Kud­dus, 40, and man­ager Harun Rashid, 38, were found guilty of un­law- fully killing Me­gan, from Oswaldtwistle, by gross neg­li­gence. Kud­dus was jailed for two years while Rashid was jailed for three years.

JON MACPHER­SON

TWO take­away bosses have been jailed for the man­slaugh­ter of a 15-year-old girl who suf­fered an al­ler­gic re­ac­tion to a meal.

Nut al­lergy suf­ferer Me­gan Lee died from an asthma at­tack af­ter she ate food from the Royal Spice take­away in Oswaldtwistle.

The St Christo­pher’s High School pupil and her friend or­dered on­line via the Just Eat web­site two days ear­lier and wrote ‘prawns, nuts’ in the com­ments and notes sec­tion.

But the de­liv­ered meal - which in­cluded an onion bhaji, a seekh ke­bab and a Pesh­wari naan - was later found to have the ‘wide­spread pres­ence’ of peanut pro­tein.

Last month, a jury at Manch­ester Crown Court found take­away owner Mo­hammed Ab­dul Kud- dus, 40, and man­ager Harun Rashid, 38, guilty of un­law­fully killing Me­gan, from Oswaldtwistle, by rea­son of gross neg­li­gence.

The two-week trial heard there was a ‘litany of fail­ings’ in the kitchen, in­clud­ing poor hy­giene and no records of in­gre­di­ents kept.

Five days af­ter Me­gan’s death - on Jan­uary, 1 2017 - the restau­rant was im­me­di­ately closed down fol­low­ing an in­spec­tion by Trad­ing Stan­dards and en­vi­ron­men­tal of­fi­cers.

Rashid, of Rudd Street, Hasling­den, who had claimed he was merely a de­liv­ery driver at the restau­rant at the time, was also found guilty of fail­ing to dis­charge a gen­eral duty of em­ploy­ers, con­trary to the Health and Safety at Work Act, and an­other count of fail­ing to put in place, im­ple­ment and main­tain a per­ma­nent pro­ce­dure or pro­ce­dures in con­tra­ven­tion of Euro­pean Union food hy­giene safety reg­u­la­tions.

He was jailed for three years.

Kud­dus, of Belper Street, Black­burn, ad­mit­ted those charges on be­half of him­self and on be­half of Royal Spice Take­away Ltd, trad­ing as Royal Spice Take­away, and was given two years.

Sen­tenc­ing the pair, Mrs Jus­tice Yip told them Me­gan was re­spon­si­ble enough to high­light her al­ler­gies when plac­ing the or­der but “sadly the same re­spon­si­bil­ity was not at your end”.

She said: “The Royal Spice had no sys­tems or pro­cesses to man­age al­ler­gen con­trol. The menu con­tained no in­for­ma­tion about al­ler­gens. No record was kept of the in­gre­di­ents used in dishes.

“In short, it ap­pears that no one at the take­away had any way of know­ing what al­ler­gens were in the food sup­plied.

“It is hoped that the mes­sage is heard that those who fail to take proper care in the sup­ply of food to the pub­lic will face sig­nif­i­cant cus­to­dial sen­tences if a death re­sults.

“Like Mr and Mrs Lee, I hope that this tragic case adds to the grow­ing aware­ness in the food in­dus­try of what can hap­pen if al­ler­gies are not taken se­ri­ously.

“Those who fail to heed the warn­ings and who con­tinue to flout food safety reg­u­la­tions may find the courts tak­ing a harsher view in the fu­ture.”

Be­fore the men were sen­tenced, Me­gan’s par­ents told the judge how the death of their ‘ best friend’ had left them dev­as­tated.

They said they used to eat around the ta­ble as a fam­ily, but they have only done that once since Me­gan died be­cause they ‘broke down’ over her empty chair.

The cou­ple said they feel like they have been given a ‘life sen­tence’, but they are com­mit­ted to pre­vent­ing al­lergy-re­lated deaths.

In a state­ment read out in court, they said: “Me­gan was a bright, ar­tic­u­late, kind and car­ing daugh­ter. We feel heart­break of her miss­ing so many mile­stones.

“She will never get mar­ried, never turn 16, never get to see her lit­tle brother grow up, or go to her prom.

“She loved study­ing and her head was al­ways in a book. She loved school. She was pe­tite and all her friends tow­ered over her, but she took it all in her stride.

“Me­gan loved mu­sic and we will miss watch­ing her per­form on stage. She loved to sing but will never reach her am­bi­tion to be an ac­tress in the West End.

“We loved the time we had with Me­gan and the im­pact she had on our lives - and ev­ery­one she met.

“We haven’t learnt to deal with her loss yet and never will. It’s put a strain on our mar­riage and our life.

“We used to eat around the ta­ble as a fam­ily but have only man­aged to do that once since Me­gan died.

“We broke down be­cause of the empty chair. Our trust is bro­ken with food and at times the pain has felt too much.

“We have a life sen­tence but hope our story will stop oth­ers go­ing through the same.

“We’ll con­tinue work­ing with the ana­phy­laxis cam­paign and trad­ing stan­dards. Me­gan was our princess.”

The take­away has since re­opened un­der new own­er­ship.

Mo­hammed Ab­dul Kud­dus and Harun Rashid were found guilty of man­slaugh­ter

Take­away owner Mo­hammed Ab­dul Kud­dus, left, has been jailed for two years and man­ager Harun Rasid, right, has been jailed for three years

Me­gan Lee

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