Takeaway workers convicted following allergy death of teenager

|News

Two men have today (26 October) been convicted of manslaughter after a 15-year-old girl died following a severe allergic reaction to a takeaway meal.

Mohammed Kuddus, 40, owner and chef at the Royal Spice Takeaway in Lancashire, and Harun Rashid, 38, the takeaway manager, both denied responsibility for the death of Megan Lee, who died from an asthma attack caused by an allergic reaction to nuts.

Rashid had denied any responsibility claiming he was simply the delivery driver. Kuddus had earlier pleaded guilty to food standards and health and safety offences. These were so extensive that when council offices visited the premises in Oswaldtwistle the pair were served with an immediate closure notice.

A jury at Manchester Crown Court have today convicted the pair of gross negligence manslaughter following a trial.

On 30 December 2016, Megan and a friend ordered a takeaway from the Royal Spice online via the Just Eat website. Megan left a note in the comments section of the order alerting the takeaway to her nut allergy but workers failed to take appropriate action.

After eating some of the meal, Megan began to suffer an allergic reaction but began to feel better after taking antihistamines.

A short time after returning home from her friend’s house, Megan’s condition deteriorated.

She was taken to hospital but died on 1 January 2017.

Kuddus had denied manslaughter but pleaded guilty to failing to discharge the general duty of employers and a charge of contravention of EU food safety regulations. Rashid had denied both offences.

They will be sentenced in due course.

Karen Tonge, from the CPS, said: “Megan Lee was a young girl with her whole future ahead of her but her life was cut short by these men who failed to protect her as their customer.

“The law required Kuddus and Rashid to take reasonable steps to ensure customer safety and to provide food that was not harmful. Their manifest failures and complete disregard for the safety of customers was astonishing.

“No appropriate systems or conditions were in place to protect Megan or any customer with a known allergy. There was little evidence of any attempt by the defendants to comply with advice and guidance issued to them by the local authority.

“Both men denied responsibility for Megan’s death, however, the CPS built a case which showed the jury that both men were culpable.

“We cannot imagine the loss suffered by Megan’s family and friends and our thoughts are of course with them.”

Notes to editors

  • Karen Tonge is a Senior Crown Prosecutor with CPS North West
  • Mohammed Kuddus (12.07.78) was charged with and found guilty of one count of manslaughter. He pleaded guilty to failing to discharge the general duty of employers and a count of contravention of EU food safety regulations
  • Harun Rashid (11.11.79) was charged with and found guilty of manslaughter, failing to discharge the general duty of employers and a charge of contravention of EU food safety regulations

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