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Owner of rat-infested Dixy Chicken gets more lenient punishment after 'issue' with original sentencing

The owner of a rat-infested Dixy Chicken in Walsall has been given a more lenient punishment after a court said there was an issue with its original sentencing.

Dixy Chicken in Bradford Street ceased trading in October 2021. Photo: Google.

Murtaza Ali was given a four-month custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay costs of £3,000 within 28 days in August by Dudley Magistrates.

However, they later advised that there had been an issue with their sentencing, so the case was referred to Wolverhampton Crown Court and heard on October 3.

The judge accepted this matter was aggravated by the defendant’s poor record involving several failed inspections as far back as 2015 and warnings about improvements that were required and ignored.

Mr Ali has now been handed a 12-month community order with an electronic curfew between 10pm and 6am for four months.

This was reduced from six months due to credit for his guilty plea.

He was also ordered to pay costs of £400, which was significantly from the original £3,000.

Environmental health officers found widespread rat infestation

It came after the takeaway on Bradford Street in Walsall town centre was closed by council environmental health officers in August 2021, following the discovery of a widespread and active rat infestation.

Droppings were found behind fryers, on shelving underneath the till and the chicken hot hold counter, in the chicken breading station in the basement, on top of a disused freezer and on a pile of tiles in the basement.

Officers served a hygiene emergency prohibition notice on the owners, shutting the business down until work to bring the premises and hygiene practices up to a satisfactory standard was undertaken and the serious risk to public health removed.

Councillor Garry Perry, deputy leader for resilient communities at Walsall Council, said: “Poor food hygiene can kill people or make them gravely ill – it really is as simple as that.

“When we go out to eat, as customers, we don’t see what’s going on in the kitchen and food storage areas. Our environmental health officers get to see it all and I’m very grateful for the work they do keeping us safe.

“Since a family member was made extremely ill because of poor food hygiene in a restaurant some years ago, I have always checked the food hygiene rating of food establishments before giving them my business and I’d urge others to do the same.

“Mr Ali should consider himself a very lucky man as this matter was only just shy of the custody threshold. Personal circumstances put forward in mitigation may well have made a difference.

“Others operating food premises should sit up and take note, because if they operate filthy premises which put people’s health at serious risk, they really could end up in jail. You’ve been warned.”

Dixy Chicken in Bradford Street ceased trading in October 2021.

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