Bangladeshi restaurant boss allergy death jail term quashed in UK

Aditi Khanna, London
Published : 22:36, May 21, 2019 | Updated : 22:39, May 21, 2019

A Bangladeshi restaurant owner who had been sentenced to two years in jail for causing the death of a 15-year-old girl with a severe allergic reaction to a takeaway meal from his shop has had his sentence quashed by the UK Court of Appeal.
Megan Lee died from an asthma attack after eating a takeaway. PHOTO/Lancashire police/PAThe appeal court judges reviewed the manslaughter conviction of Mohammed Abdul Kuddus and concluded that the 40-year-old had not seen the allergy note that could have prevented the death of Megan Lee after she ate a meal from Royal Spice restaurant at Oswaldtwistle in Lancashire in January 2017.
"He knew nothing of the allergy which she had declared,” said Sir Brian Leveson, reading out a three-judge ruling in London last week.
"In those circumstances, the conviction for gross negligence manslaughter cannot stand," he said.
Kuddus had bought the restaurant from Harun Rashid, who continued to run it as manager and had been found guilty of the teenager’s manslaughter alongside Kuddus after a Manchester Crown Court trial in October last year. Rashid had been sentenced to three years’ imprisonment after a trial heard last year that he had seen the allergy note. His sentence in relation to the case continues to hold.
The appeal judges noted that under the circumstances in which Rashid continued to manage the restaurant, it was his responsibility to introduce appropriate systems and that he had seen the teenager’s order which included a comment about no nuts or prawns due to her severe allergy.
Rashid was also convicted of failing to discharge a general duty of employers, contrary to the UK’s 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 concurrent jail terms of six months and four months for those offences.
Harun Rashid (left) and Mohammed Kuddus (right) at Manchester Crown Court for the trial PHOTO/PAKuddus had already admitted those two additional charges and was handed down concurrent sentences of five months and three months, which he would serve before being released.
"There is now a general awareness of the potential risks to those who suffer from allergies and, as a result, it should be understood that the courts will rigorously scrutinise the way in which restaurants discharge the duty of care that they owe such customers," the Court of Appeal verdict noted.
During the manslaughter trial in the case which concluded in November 2018, Kuddus had chosen not to give evidence during the trial as he did not speak much English.
In a statement read out in court by the victim’s mother, Gemma Lee, said: "As a family, and Megan herself, we would always be careful about ingredients in food. Megan was careful in her food choices. She would look at labels to avoid food she was allergic to.”