A mother whose daughter died from an allergic reaction to an Indian takeaway has told how her ‘perfect family had been shattered’ as two men were jailed today.
Nut allergy sufferer Megan Lee died from an asthma attack after she ate food from the Royal Spice takeaway in Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire.
Megan and her friend ordered online via the Just Eat website two days earlier and wrote ‘prawns, nuts’ in the comments and notes section.
However 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.
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Nut allergy sufferer Megan Lee died from an asthma attack after she ate food from the Royal Spice takeaway in Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire
Mohammed Abdul Kuddus (left) and Harun Rashid arrive for sentencing at Manchester Crown Court. the hearing was also attended by Megan’s parents Adam and Gemma (right)
Restaurant owner Mohammed Abdul Kuddus, 40, and manager Harun Rashid, 38, were jailed at Manchester Crown Court today for two and three years respectively.
Megan’s mother Gemma Lee, 34, said she, her husband Adam, 36, and son Owen, 8, had only sat down together once for a meal due to the ’empty chair at the table’.
Mrs Lee had twice gave Megan the kiss of life and carried out chest compression as the youngster lay dying in her bedroom.
Megan was rushed to hospital but died two days later with tests revealing she had suffered an allergic reaction to traces of nuts in the meal.
Mr and Mrs Lee read out a moving joint statement to a hushed courtroom as the two men listened from the dock
Mrs Lee told Manchester Crown Court: ‘Losing her has turned our lives into something we cannot describe and we have never felt pain like it.
‘We remember the day we came home from hospital and knowing we could not do anything for Megan.
‘Owen could not understand why this had happened and begged to have her home. We are to this day still in a state of shock.
‘The impact of watching his mummy try to save his big sister and wait at the door for the ambulance to arrive will forever be etched in his mind and ours.
‘Our perfect family bubble has been shattered apart, the impact it has had on us has changed our life completely.
Megan’s mother Gemma Lee (pictured) said she, her husband Adam, 36, and son Owen, 8, had only sat down together once for a meal due to the ’empty chair at the table’
Five days after Megan’s death in January 2017, the restaurant (pictured) was immediately closed down following an inspection by Trading Standards and hygiene officers
‘We struggle from day to day, the fact we could not protect Megan has changed our lives, we question every minute of that day and it is the day our lives turned into a nightmare.’
Rashid was given 10 months in custody, also to run concurrently, for the same offences.
Sentencing the pair, Mrs Justice Yip told them Megan was responsible enough to highlight her allergies when placing the order but ‘sadly the same responsibility was not at your end’.
She said: ‘The Royal Spice had no systems or processes to manage allergen control. The menu contained no information about allergens. No record was kept of the ingredients used in dishes.
‘In short, it appears that no one at the takeaway had any way of knowing what allergens were in the food supplied.’
The court heard there was a ‘litany of failings’ in the kitchen, including poor hygiene and no records of ingredients kept by the Bangladeshi nationals.
Five days after Megan’s death in January 2017, the restaurant was immediately closed down following an inspection by Trading Standards and hygiene officers.
Manager Rashid, of Haslingden, had claimed he was merely a delivery driver at the restaurant at the time of the death.
He was also found guilty of failing to discharge a general duty of employers and another count of failing to put in place proper hygiene procedures.
Kuddus, of Blackburn, had already pleaded guilty to those two charges on behalf of himself and on behalf of Royal Spice Takeaway Ltd, trading as Royal Spice Takeaway.
The judge added: ‘It is hoped that the message is heard that those who fail to take proper care in the supply of food to the public will face significant custodial sentences if a death results.
‘Like Mr and Mrs Lee, I hope that this tragic case adds to the growing awareness in the food industry of what can happen if allergies are not taken seriously.
‘Those who fail to heed the warnings and who continue to flout food safety regulations may find the courts taking a harsher view in the future.’
A jury found Kuddus, 40, and Rashid, 38, (pictured at an earlier hearing) guilty of unlawfully killing Megan following a two-week trial in October