Curry house owner jailed after man with nut allergy dies
A "reckless" Indian restaurant owner who was convicted of killing a customer with a nut allergy by supplying him with a takeaway containing peanuts has been jailed for six years.
Mohammed Zaman (53), from Huntington, York, England, was convicted of 38-year-old Paul Wilson's manslaughter following a trial at Teesside Crown Court.
Mr Wilson, meticulous about his condition, had asked for a chicken tikka masala with "no nuts" but his curry was cooked with a groundnut mix containing peanuts.
The prosecution alleged Zaman, said to have £300,000 (€390,000) of business debts, switched from almond powder to the cheaper ingredient to cut costs.
Judge Simon Bourne-Arton said Zaman (inset) had made a success of himself since going to Britain more than 40 years ago, building up his businesses and gathering a property portfolio worth more than £2m.
"You threw all that away," the judge said. "You have done so in pursuit of profit . . . in such a manner as to bring about the death of another individual. Paul Wilson was in the prime of his life. He, like you, worked in the catering trade. He, unlike you, was a careful man."
Mr Wilson bought a takeaway from the Indian Garden in Easingwold, North Yorkshire, in January 2014. After eating very little of it, he was found slumped in the toilet at his home in Helperby by his housemate. He died from a severe anaphylactic shock.
Zaman was convicted of gross negligence manslaughter after the jury was told he swapped almond powder in recipes for the cheaper groundnut mix, despite warnings that it could endanger customers with allergies.
After the verdict, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said it showed that food suppliers had a duty of care towards their customers. Zaman, who owned six restaurants in York and North Yorkshire, cut costs by using the cheaper ingredient and by employing untrained, illegal workers. The prosecution said the owner had "put profit before safety" at his restaurants.
Zaman denied manslaughter by gross negligence, perverting the course of justice and six food safety offences. He was found guilty of all charges except perverting the course of justice. He claimed he left managers to run his restaurants and that included ordering stock and hiring staff. He was not on the premises when the curry was sold.