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Court told of squalid rat infested diner

PUBLISHED: 09:17 25 February 2009 | UPDATED: 22:36 05 July 2010

A SUFFOLK environmental health officer has described the "squalid rat infested" food preparation conditions at a Lowestoft Indian restaurant as "one of the worst cases, if not the worst" he had seen in 20 years.

A SUFFOLK environmental health officer has described the “squalid rat infested” food preparation conditions at a Lowestoft Indian restaurant as “one of the worst cases, if not the worst” he had seen in 20 years.

Tony Burgess an investigating officer for Waveney District Council was speaking after the two owners of the Royal Bengal in Lowestoft High Street were given suspended jail sentences for the “appalling” behind the scenes conditions at their restaurant, which has recently closed.

Mr Burgess said that repeated visits were made to the restaurant between January and August last year and despite ordering a raft of improvements investigators continued to find filthy conditions.

Before Ipswich Crown Court were Syed Mohammed Ali, 34, and Faisal Murad, 35, who both admitted 14 food hygiene offences and a licensing offence. Syed Mohammed Ali was given a 33-week jail term suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 240 hours unpaid work in the community while Murad was given a 26 week jail term suspended for two years and ordered to do 240 hours unpaid work in the community. They were also each fined £100 and ordered to pay £2,900 costs.

Also before the court was Syed Shanur Ali, 41, who admitted 10 food hygiene offences and was ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work in the community.

Syed Mohammed Ali and Syed Shanur Ali were sentenced earlier this month but passing sentence on Murad yesterday Judge David Goodin said: “It is difficult to imagine a restaurant selling food to the public for profit that could be in a worse or more appalling condition than yours was.”

At an earlier hearing Lowestoft Magistrates' heard that behind a façade of respectability food at the restaurant was being prepared in squalid conditions.

Rob Barley, prosecuting, said: “It is rather fortunate, to say the least, that ill health was not caused as a result of the conditions in which food was being stored and prepared.”

He said environmental health officer Paul Goldsmith found the ceiling of the kitchen was dirty with food debris and a saucepan was being used to heat water for washing hands and utensils because the boiler had broken,

The flooring was dirty with encrusted food debris along the edges and outside in a wooden shed where food was being stored and prepared investigators found rat droppings on the floor and black mould on the walls.

A chef was also seen handling raw chicken and then touching cooked food without washing his hands.

Joanne Eley, for Murad, said her client accepted that he was a joint owner of the premises with Syed Mohammed Ali.

She said that due to family illness in 2008 he had been absent from the restaurant for much of the time and had appointed someone else to look after the restaurant. When Murad visited the restaurant and saw the poor state it was in he had dismissed the person he had employed to look after it.

Miss Eley said Murad accepted that what went on in the restaurant had been his responsibility and that he had put his family before his management role at the premises.

She said the restaurant was no longer open and he and his co-owner had unsuccessfully been trying to sell the premises.

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