Megan Lee: Takeaway Bosses Jailed Over Death Of Teenager With Nut Allergy

Megan Lee died two days after eating the food.
Megan Lee died two days after suffering a reaction after eating food from a takeaway in Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire
Megan Lee died two days after suffering a reaction after eating food from a takeaway in Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire
Yahoo7 News

Two takeaway bosses have been jailed over the death of a teenager who suffered a fatal allergic reaction.

Mohammed Abdul Kuddus, 40, and Harun Rashid, 38, were jailed at Manchester Crown Court for two and three years respectively over the death of 15-year-old nut allergy sufferer Megan Lee.

Last month they had been found guilty of unlawfully killing Megan by gross negligence.

The teen died after eating food from the Royal Spice Takeaway in Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, on December 30 2016.

In sentencing, Mrs Justice Yip accepted the two men – both fathers – had expressed genuine remorse and that neither meant to kill the teenager.

She said: “Neither of you actually foresaw the death of anyone. It never occurred to you that you would be responsible for the death of a young girl.

“Quite simply, you never gave the risk of a customer dying because of an allergy a moment’s thought.

“You must now live with the guilt of what you have done and the suffering you have caused Megan’s family and to your own families.

“All of this is a tragedy that could so easily have been avoided had you exercised the proper care to be expected of those who serve food to the public.”

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

The court heard Megan’s friend ordered the meal through the Just Eat website and wrote “prawns, nuts” in the comments and notes section.

Harun Rashid and Mohammed Abdul Kuddus were jailed on Wednesday
Harun Rashid and Mohammed Abdul Kuddus were jailed on Wednesday
PA Ready News UK

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.

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

Following her death a police inquiry was launched and later, on 6 January, the restaurant was immediately closed down by Trading Standards and environmental hygiene officers.

There was evidence of mouse droppings, dirty work surfaces and pans piled up and left unclean.

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 safety regulations. He received a three-year term.

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.

The judge said Megan’s parents Adam and Gemma had shown “dignity and courage” throughout the court process.

“They do not seek retribution but want their story to serve as a warning to others in the food industry so that other families will not be forced to experience the indescribable loss that they have suffered,” she added.

“She (Megan) had made her family proud throughout her short life and would have continued to do so. She had everything to live for. No sentence I impose can begin to reflect the loss of Megan’s life.”

In a statement read out after the trial verdict, Megan’s parents, Adam and Gemma Lee, spoke of the devastating impact on their life at losing their daughter and said they will continue to work with the Anaphylaxis Campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of allergies.

They urged other food businesses to improve their standards from immediate effect and take allergies seriously and added: “Do not guess, do not play ignorant, do not play Russian roulette with precious lives.”

Det Chief Insp Mark Vaughton, of Lancashire Police, said: “Megan’s death was the tragic consequence of the conduct of these two men. As owner and operator, Kuddus and Rashid each owed a duty of care to the public.

“The defendants gave little thought to the consequences of their actions. They showed a blatant disregard for customer safety, hazard control, food safety and hygiene. Megan’s death was a tragedy waiting to happen.

“While no sentence will replace the loss of Megan, we hope her family and friends can, in time, move on. I can only imagine how difficult it has been for them following her death.”

The Royal Spice takeaway is now trading under new ownership.


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