Take­away worker fac­ing jail over allergy death

Rossendale Free Press - - Front Page - ELEANOR BAR­LOW

AHASLINGDEN take­away boss has been found guilty of man­slaugh­ter fol­low­ing a 15-year-old girl’s death af­ter eat­ing a take­away.

Nut allergy suf­ferer Me­gan Lee died af­ter eat­ing food on De­cem­ber 30, 2016.

Harun Rashid, of Rudd Street, who was al­leged to be the take­away man­ager, and owner Mo­hammed Ab­dul Kud­dus, 40, were found guilty of man­slaugh­ter by gross neg­li­gence by a Manch­ester Crown Court jury.

The eight men and four women took about six hours of de­lib­er­a­tions to reach their ver­dicts.

Rashid, 38, who had claimed he was merely a de­liv­ery driver at the Royal Spice Take­away in Oswaldtwistle 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 safety reg­u­la­tions.

Kud­dus, of Belper Street, Black­burn, had al­ready pleaded guilty to those two charges on be­half of him­self and on be­half of Royal Spice Take­away Ltd.

Fam­ily mem­bers of Me­gan were in tears in the pub­lic gallery as the two men, who are both Bangladeshi na­tion­als, were found guilty.

The court heard how Me­gan’s friend or­dered the meal through the Just Eat web­site and wrote “prawns, nuts” in the com­ments and notes sec­tion. But the meal, which in­cluded an onion bhaji, a seekh kebab and a Pesh­wari naan, was later found to have the “wide­spread pres­ence” of peanut pro­tein.

Me­gan had an im­me­di­ate re­ac­tion to the kebab and died two days later af­ter suf­fer­ing ir­re­versible brain dam­age from a later asthma at­tack.

Peter Wright QC, pros­e­cut­ing, told the court her death was a “dis­as­ter wait­ing to hap­pen”.

It was al­leged there was a “litany of fail­ings” in the kitchen in­clud­ing poor hy­giene and no records of in­gre­di­ents kept. The take­away has since re­opened un­der new own­er­ship. The two men were re­leased on bail to be sen­tenced on Novem­ber 7.

Judge Mrs Jus­tice Yip said: “The fact that I am grant­ing bail shouldn’t be taken as any in­di­ca­tion there should be a non­cus­to­dial sen­tence.

“You need to pre­pare your­selves for a cus­to­dial sen­tence.”

Kud­dus and Rashid made no com­ment as they were ap­proached by me­dia while leav­ing court fol­low­ing the ver­dicts.

Fol­low­ing the hear­ing Me­gan’s heart­bro­ken par­ents Adam and Gemma Lee warned all food busi­nesses to ‘not play Rus­sian roulette’ with lives.

In a state­ment read out­side court, Mr Lee said: “Our lives will never be the same, the loss of our beau­ti­ful daugh­ter has com­pletely dev­as­tated us. Me­gan’s legacy is to be kind, con­sid­er­ate and to be help­ful to oth­ers. We will con­tinue to work with the Ana­phy­laxis Cam­paign to raise aware­ness of the dan­gers of al­ler­gies. We live in hope that to­day’s re­sult is a warn­ing to other food busi­nesses op­er­at­ing in such a de­plorable and ig­no­rant man­ner.

“We urge all food busi­nesses to im­prove the stan­dard of food safety and to take al­ler­gies se­ri­ously. Trad­ing Stan­dards and En­vi­ron­men­tal Health are there to help. Do not guess, do not play ig­no­rant, do not play Rus­sian roulette with pre­cious lives.”

●● Harun Rashid (above) and Me­gan Lee (be­low)

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