Clinical Negligence & Catastrophic Injury Solicitors
Restaurant owner jailed following nut allergy death.
An Indian restaurant owner with a "cavalier attitude" to safety has been jailed for six years for the manslaughter of a customer with a nut allergy after he was supplied with a curry containing peanuts.
Paul Wilson, 38, was meticulous about his condition and asked for "no nuts" when staff at the Indian Garden, Easingwold, North Yorkshire, cooked his chicken tikka masala takeaway.
But, after eating the curry, Mr Wilson, a bar manager, was found slumped in the toilet at his home in Helperby in January 2014. He had died from a severe anaphylactic shock.
Owner of the Indian garden, Mohammed Zaman was convicted of gross negligence manslaughter following a trial at Teesside Crown Court during which the jury heard that he swapped almond powder in recipes for cheaper groundnut mix, containing peanuts, in spite of warnings.
The prosecution alleged Zaman, who owned six restaurants in York and North Yorkshire, was almost £300,000 in debt and cut costs by using the cheaper ingredient and employing untrained, illegal workers.
Mr Wilson died three weeks after a teenaged customer at another of Zaman's restaurants suffered an allergic reaction which required hospital treatment. She had also been assured that her meal would not contain nuts.
The prosecution said the owner had "put profit before safety" at the restaurants he owned.
Zaman, from Huntington, York, denied manslaughter by gross negligence, perverting the course of justice and six food safety offences. He was found guilty of all charges except perverting course of justice.
Zaman claimed he left managers to run his restaurants and that this included ordering stock and hiring staff. He was not on the premises when the curry was sold.
Prosecuting, Richard Wright QC, said Mr Wilson had told staff that his meal must be nut-free, the restaurant had written "no nuts" on his order and on the lid of his curry.
Mr Wright 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 the warnings he was given. His was a reckless and cavalier attitude to risk and one that we would describe as grossly negligent.
“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."
Police and trading standards launched an investigation following Mr Wilson's death. Groundnut powder was found in the kitchen of the Indian Garden and had contaminated other ingredients.
A test purchaser sent to the Indian Garden the day after Mr Wilson's death was assured by staff that they could buy a nut-free curry.
Mr Wilson's parents, Keith and Margaret Wilson, from Sheffield, said their son had carefully managed his condition since he was seven when he had a reaction to a chocolate bar containing nuts.
He loved curry but was always clear when ordering that his food must not contain nuts.
Chief crown prosecutor, Crown Prosecution Service, Yorkshire and Humberside, Martin Goldman, said: “This is a tragic case in which Paul Wilson lost his life needlessly. Mohammed Zaman directly caused the death of Mr Wilson by allowing him to be served a meal that he knew contained potentially lethal peanut powder.
“Zaman substituted almond powder with a cheaper ground nut mix, which contained peanuts. He failed to warn customers, failed to properly train his employees and failed to take any action following a previous serious allergic reaction. These failures led to Mr Wilson’s death.
“In this conviction, the CPS has sent a very clear message to the catering industry: there is a duty of care to your customers. If you ignore your responsibilities and regulations and put lives at risk then we will not hesitate to prosecute.”