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Takeaway owner jailed for hygiene breaches

The owner of a Spalding takeaway has been jailed for serious hygiene breaches at his business, following a prosecution by South Holland District Council.

Rafat Thoun, who ran 'Downtown' and latterly 'Time Square' in Winsover Road, was sentenced to 12 months in prison during a hearing at Lincoln Crown Court on Friday.

He was also prohibited from participating in the management of any food business for life.

Judge Michael Heath sentenced him to 12 months imprisonment concurrently on each of the 11 offences. He also made a Hygiene Prohibition Order. Thoun had pleaded guilty to the charges.  

During inspections food safety officers found meat debris and congealed fat on the side of a kebab machine.

In a fridge an open container of butter had a dead beetle inside while another butter container was filthy and congealed.

Open tins of beans were stale and hard. An out-of-date packet of prawns was inside one fridge and a knife used for cutting meat had evidence of maggots on it.

In his summing up, Judge Heath said: "This was a shocking case that demonstrates a pattern of serious food hygiene offences and shows the defendant's complete disregard for food safety which put customers at serious risk to their health."  

He highlighted that the offences were set against the background of previous enforcement action and warnings, which Thoun ignored.

The Judge found that the only inference to draw was that he did not implement adequate hygiene standards out of a desire to save money and maximise profits.  

He found that Thoun had either intentionally breached the law or flagrantly disregarded it meaning that a custodial sentence was necessary.  

He noted that Thoun had ignored free advice from the council's officers and a training DVD.  

Thoun had also attempted to avoid responsibility for the offences by not attending Court on three occasions and lying about his bail address.  

Judge Heath said it was surprising that no one had become seriously ill as result of eating food there.

Craig Fowler, Food, Health and Safety Manager for South Holland District Council, said: "This is one of the worst cases of continued non-compliance I have seen in my near 20 year career in Environmental Health.

"A total disregard for food safety and authority was apparent. Once we began to take enforcement action, Thoun thought that he could escape justice by running away.

"We take our public protection responsibilities seriously and we will pursue offenders so that they are brought to justice and where necessary prevented from managing any future food businesses so that the public are properly protected."

Cllr Malcolm Chandler, portfolio holder for Food Safety, said: "The Food, Health and Safety team carried out approximately 870 enforcement actions last year, including unannounced inspections to food business.  

"We work hard with owners and managers and provide coaching and education if necessary to raise standards.  

"We have an ongoing coaching programme aimed at businesses which have low-ranked Food Hygiene Ratings. We also offer high quality, local food hygiene training and consultancy.

"I strongly encourage all involved to take full advantage of the services the team offer to ensure that acceptable standards are maintained.

"The premises in question had a history of having the lowest Food Hygiene Rating but refused assistance.

"We fully support the local food economy and where businesses choose not to implement the required standards we have used both informal and formal enforcement methods.

"This premises has been subject to legal enforcement notices and formal closure by our Food, Health and Safety Team.  

"It is important that we safeguard the public from poor and potentially dangerous premises.

"The individual concerned has been banned from managing a food business as the court clearly viewed the fact that he was unfit to do so. 

"I trust this will send a clear message to food businesses and will assure the public that they can eat in confidence in South Holland."

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