A food business operator who was jailed after a customer died from an allergic reaction to a curry has failed in a bid to have his conviction overturned.
Paul Wilson, 38, from Sheffield suffered a severe anaphylactic shock in 2014 after eating a takeaway containing peanuts from the Indian Garden in North Yorkshire.
Mohammed Zaman, 53, was found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence and six food safety offences, but was cleared of a charge perverting the court of justice. He was sentenced to six years in jail.
In Zaman’s appeal, lawyers argued he did not have a fair trial and the jury was “misdirected” during the judge’s summing up of the case. However, the Court of appeal in London ruled his conviction was safe and rejected the appeal bid by Zaman to have his sentence cut.
Lord Justice Hickinbottom who sat with Mr Justice Openshaw and Judge Michael Topolski on 8th November dismissed the appeal saying:
“We are in no doubt that the conviction was and is safe.” He also said that Zaman was responsible for negligent behavior that “persisted over months”. He continued to say: “In our view, his negligence in this case was not just gross, his behavior, driven by money, was appalling.”
Since December 2014, takeaways and restaurants have been required by law to make customer aware if any of the 14 allergens are ingredients in their food. Mr Wilson had died before that change in the law, but the trial heard he had specified “not nuts” when he ordered and his meal had been labelled as “nut free”. The court heard that his allergy was so severe it could be triggered by him being close proximity to a peanut.
Zaman had cut corners by swapping the thickening agent almond powder for the cheaper groundnut powder which contained peanuts trying to save money because his business has debts of £300,000.
Zaman was also found to still be selling “nut-free” curries containing peanuts on the day after tragedy. As the next day following the death, a trading standards investigator went to the premises and asked for a nut free meal. Tests revealed that the meal contained a “sizeable amount” of ground peanuts comparable to the levels found in Mr Wilson’s curry. This shows his blatant disregard for public safety.
An investigation was also started by trading standards a week before Mr Wilson’s death and had warned staff at the takeaway that they had to tell customers their meals contained peanuts after a different customer suffered an allergic reaction at another of Zaman’s restaurants.