Takeaway owners jailed after 15-year-old dies from a severe allergic reaction
Two bosses at a takeaway have been jailed for manslaughter after a teenage girl suffered a severe and fatal allergic reaction, Manchester Crown Court heard.
15-Year-old Megan Lee ordered from the Royal Spice takeaway in Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire via the Just Eat app on December 30 2016, and along with a friend, wrote down "prawns, nuts" in the comments section of her online order - meant to explain the foods that she was allergic to.
But mere days later, Megan suffered an acute asthma attack from her food, and died two days later in hospital after suffering from irreversible brain damage. But the meal she ate, which included an onion bhaji, a seekh kebab and a Peshwari naan, was found to have the "widespread presence" of peanut protein in it.
Last month in October, the Royal Spice's bosses, Mohammed Abdul Kuddus, 40, and Harun Rashid, 38, were both found guilty of manslaughter by presiding judge Mrs Justice Yip.
Sentenced to two and three years in prison respectively, Yip said that Megan had been responsible enough to write down her allergies, but said of Kuddus and Rashid: "sadly the same responsibility was not at your end."
"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. 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."
She continued: "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."
Megan's parents, Adam and Gemma Lee, also got a mention from Justice Yip in her final verdict, with the judge saying the grieving mother and father had shown "dignity and courage" throughout the entire court case.
"They [the Lees] 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 [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 her sentencing, Justice Yip did acknowledge that Kuddus and Rashid - who are both fathers - had shown genuine remorse following Megan's death. The two-week trial found that there were a "litany of failings" at the Royal Spice restaurant, including poor hygiene, and no lists of ingredients. The restaurant is now running under new ownership.