Takeaway worker facing jail over allergy death
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)