Two men have today (Wednesday, November 7) been sentenced after a 15-year-old girl died having suffered an allergic reaction to a takeaway.
Mohammed Abdul Kuddus, 40, of Belper Street, Blackburn and Harun Rashid, 38, of Rudd Street, Haslingden, were jailed at Manchester Crown Court following the death of Megan Lee.
On December 30, 2016, Megan fell ill after eating food from the Royal Spice Indian takeaway in Hyndburn.
She was admitted to Royal Blackburn Hospital having suffered an apparent allergic reaction but sadly passed away on January 1, 2017.
A post mortem examination showed she died from asthma due to a nut allergy.
Following an investigation by Lancashire Constabulary, Lancashire County Council and Hyndburn Borough Council and, after consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service, Kuddus and Rashid, who both worked at the takeaway, were charged.
Kuddus admitted one count of failing to discharge general health/safety duty to a person other than an employee and one count of contravening or failing to comply with EU provision concerning food safety and hygiene. He also pleaded guilty to the same offences on behalf of Royal Spice Takeaway Ltd, trading as Royal Spice, but had denied manslaughter.
Rashid was charged with manslaughter, one count of failing to discharge general health/safety duty to a person other than an employee and one count of contravening or failing to comply with EU provision concerning food safety and hygiene. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Following trial, the jury found both men guilty of manslaughter last month.
Rashid was also found guilty of the charges he had denied.
Kuddus was given two years in prison, with Rashid jailed for three years.
Det Chief Insp Mark Vaughton, of Lancashire Police, said: “Megan’s death was the tragic consequence of the conduct of these two men. As owner and operator, Kuddus and Rashid each owed a duty of care to the public.
“The defendants gave little thought to the consequences of their actions. They showed a blatant disregard for customer safety, hazard control, food safety and hygiene. Megan’s death was a tragedy waiting to happen.
“While no sentence will replace the loss of Megan, we hope her family and friends can, in time, move on. I can only imagine how difficult it has been for them following her death. My thoughts are with them and will continue to be.”
The Royal Spice takeaway is now trading under new ownership.
In an earlier statement, Megan’s family said: “Our Megan, Our Princess, was a true inspiration to many and a role model to her little Brother Owen. He will forever remember the lessons in life she taught him and will look to her as an example of a truly loving, kind and thoughtful person.
“Our lives will never be the same, the loss of our beautiful daughter has completely devastated us. Megan’s positive presence and infectious smile will be forever missed
“It breaks our heart that Megan didn’t get the chance to sit her GCSE exams, something she had worked so incredibly hard for, to celebrate her 16th Birthday or go to the school prom with her friends.
“Megan didn’t get the opportunity to fulfil her ambition of working in musical theatre, to explore the world, fall in love or have children of her own. It’s these thoughts that cause us great sadness because nobody deserved it more than Megan.
“The investigation, the trial and media coverage has been a difficult process for our family and the evidence heard in court has been challenging to hear.
“We wouldn’t have been able to get through these most difficult times without the incredible support and professionalism of our family liaison officers and investigation team at Lancashire Police. We’d like to thank them wholeheartedly for their exhaustive and meticulous work with Megan’s case. Also, to our legal team, lead by Mr Wright for their impeccable and industrious work.
“We would also like to thank Trading Standards at Lancashire County Council and Environmental health at Hyndburn Borough Council for their support and ongoing work to improve standards for everyone.
“Megan’s Legacy is to be kind, considerate and to be helpful to others. We will continue to work with the Anaphylaxis Campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of allergies.
“Whilst we may have received some justice with today’s verdict, we live in hope that today’s result is a warning to other food businesses operating in such a deplorable and ignorant manner to learn by this and improve their standards with immediate effect. We urge all food businesses to improve the standard of food safety and to take allergies seriously. Trading Standards and Environmental Health are there to help. Do not guess, do not play ignorant, do not play Russian roulette with precious lives.”