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Walsall takeaway owner faces prison over mouse droppings

By Marion Brennan | Walsall | Crime | Published:

The owner of an ‘absolutely filthy’ pizza takeaway covered in mouse droppings has been warned by a district judge to prepare for a jail sentence.

Pizza Cottage

Inspectors found mouse excrement on the kebab machine, plates and shelving, under the front counter, behind the chest freezer and all over the floor of Pizza Cottage in Walsall.

Muhammad Khan, aged 29, who pleaded guilty to 10 food hygiene charges, was committed to Wolverhampton Crown Court because of his ‘flagrant disregard of the law’.

District judge Graham Wilkinson said his sentencing powers were not tough enough to punish Khan who had ‘put the lives of vulnerable customers at risk’.

Inspectors from Walsall Council paid a surprise visit to the shop in Caldmore Road on January 16 last year, Mr Dominic Patouchas, representing the authority, told Wolverhampton Magistrates Court.

Vermin

As well as finding evidence of vermin in the serving and storage areas, they discovered droppings in the main food preparation area – even on an open fridge containing uncovered pizza toppings, and on top of greasy and dirty plastic containers of spice.

Defending Khan, whose takeaway sells pizzas, curries and kebabs, Mr Chris Loach said the defendant he was of previous good character and had been suffering from back problems.

But Mr Wilkinson said: “These premises have clearly been neglected for some considerable time.

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"This case is not limited to mouse droppings – there was a lack of handwash facilities, no hygiene training for staff, equipment was not in a proper state, the premises were falling apart.”

Mr Loach argued that said this was not a case where the council had received complaints from customers.

However the district judge said the premises posed a high-risk of causing salmonella poisoning ‘which potentially leads to death’, he said.

Vulnerable

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He told Khan: “This was a flagrant disregard for the law which risked the lives of your customers, ranging from vulnerable young people to the elderly who might already have a pre-existing health problem.

“You are at grave risk of receiving a lengthy prison sentence.”

Khan, of West Bromwich Road, Walsall, was granted unconditional bail to appear at Wolverhampton Crown Court on March 22.

Marion Brennan

By Marion Brennan
@Marion_EStar

News and features reporter, specialising in human interest and local history stories.

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