A former takeaway owner is facing jail after his Wolverhampton business was found swarming with cockroaches.
Inspectors say the infestation at Express Diner in Lichfield Street was one of the worst ever seen in the city, with insects found crawling over work surfaces and cooking utensils.
Magistrates said the case was so severe, ex-owner Mohammed Rafiq could only be sentenced at the city’s crown court, where he could get up to two years behind bars.
Rafiq, aged 40, of Deansfield Road, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to failing to comply with food safety regulations and obstructing environmental health officials in their duty.
Magistrates heard yesterday there had been a previous cockroach infestation in 2012, but no further action was taken after he agreed to a temporary closure.
But Miss Jacky Bramley, prosecuting on behalf of Wolverhampton Council, said environmental health officers visited the business again on January 21 this year.
“Officers thought the premises looked dirty and within minutes became suspicious there was a cockroach infestation,” she said. “Cockroaches of all stages of life were found throughout the premises, including the food preparation areas.
“There was even a cockroach among the cooking utensils and on the work surfaces.”
She said Rafiq was told to close the premises immediately. Miss Bramley said traps were laid to catch the insects and Rafiq was given strict instructions not to move them.
The business was allowed to reopen on January31 but, when environmental health officers visited that day, they found more cockroaches. And, on February 13, inspectors found all the traps in the kitchen area had been hidden in paper bags.
Miss Bramley added that Rafiq was convicted in December last year for offences relating to another business as a property landlord. “He shows a blatant disregard for regulations,” she said.
Mr Mohammed Kasujee, representing Rafiq, said he had worked as a taxi driver for some years, but four years ago was invited to enter the business as a sleeping partner. “He found himself out of his depth,” he said. “He took on somebody who had experience of working in a takeaway and relied on them for day-to-day management.” Rafiq has now sold the business and it remains closed.
Rafiq was bailed to appear before Wolverhampton Crown Court on September 9.