The owner of a Spalding takeaway has been jailed for serious hygiene breaches at his business, following a prosecution by South Holland District Council.
Rafat Thoun, who ran ‘Downtown’ and latterly ‘Time Square’ in Winsover Road, was sentenced to 12 months in prison during a hearing at Lincoln Crown Court on Friday.
He was also prohibited from participating in the management of any food business for life.
Craig Fowler, food, health and safety manager for South Holland District Council, said: “This is one of the worst cases of continued non-compliance I have seen in my near 20 year career in environmental health.
“A total disregard for food safety and authority was apparent. Once we began to take enforcement action, Thoun thought that he could escape justice by running away.
This is a shocking case and the picture that confronted the inspectors was a quite dreadful oneJudge Michael Heath at Lincoln Crown Court
“We take our public protection responsibilities seriously and we will pursue offenders so that they are brought to justice and where necessary prevented from managing any future food businesses so that the public are properly protected.”
Coun Malcolm Chandler, portfolio holder for food safety, said: “The Food, Health and Safety team carried out approximately 870 enforcement actions last year, including unannounced inspections to food business.
“We work hard with owners and managers and provide coaching and education if necessary to raise standards.
“We have an ongoing coaching programme aimed at businesses which have low-ranked Food Hygiene Ratings. We also offer high quality, local food hygiene training and consultancy.
“I strongly encourage all involved to take full advantage of the services the team offer to ensure that acceptable standards are maintained.
“The premises in question had a history of having the lowest Food Hygiene Rating but refused assistance.
“We fully support the local food economy and where businesses choose not to implement the required standards we have used both informal and formal enforcement methods.
“This premises has been subject to legal enforcement notices and formal closure by our Food, Health and Safety Team.
“It is important that we safeguard the public from poor and potentially dangerous premises.
“The individual concerned has been banned from managing a food business as the court clearly viewed the fact that he was unfit to do so.
“I trust this will send a clear message to food businesses and will assure the public that they can eat in confidence in South Holland.”
FRIDAY 5.15PM: The owner of a Spalding takeaway shop branded so dirty that it posed an imminent threat to the health of customers has been jailed for 12 months today. Rafat Thoun, who ran Time Square Kebab and Pizza at 25 Winsover Road, was also given a lifetime ban from being involved in the management of any food business.
Thoun (38), of no fixed address, admitted 11 charges of breaching food hygiene regulations arising from a series of visits by South Holland District Council environmental health officers to the takeaway during 2013.
Adam Farrer, prosecuting, told Lincoln Crown Court that the visits took place after Thoun received a series of warnings from the district council’s environmental health department.
Mr Farrer said: “The defendant was not at the premises and the staff said he was in Egypt.
“When the environmental health officers arrived, they found the premises to be dirty and generally unhygienic.
“There were no cleaning cloths on the premises, staff were using a raw meat wrapper as a cleaning cloth and there was no means of disinfectant available.”
Council inspectors also found meat debris and solidified fat on the side of a kebab machine, while an open container of butter in the fridge had a dead beetle inside, another butter container was filthy and open tins of beans were stale and hard.
In addition, an out of date packet of prawns was inside one fridge and a knife used for cutting meat had evidence of maggots on it.
Mr Farrer said: “Raw chicken was thawing in a dirty sink, the wash basin and toilet were dirty, there was an overflowing rubbish bin and in a lean-to in the yard, bags of rubbish had been attacked by birds and flies were attracted to the food waste.
“The premises posed an imminent risk to health and the manager agreed to close the shop.”
The shop was cleaned up and re-opened but further food hygiene breaches were found on subsequent visits carried out by inspectors in July and August 2013.
Mr Farrer said: “Mr Thoun flagrantly disregarded the law and there was a high risk of an adverse effect on customers.
“It is a matter of good fortune that nobody became seriously ill as a result of eating food from these premises.”
Thoun was prosecuted but failed on three ocasions to turn up for court appearances until he was finally arrested in January after being detained coming off a flight returning to the UK.
Thoun, who represented himself during the hearing, told the court through an interpreter that he was on holiday when the shop was first visited but when he returned, the shop was cleaned up and allowed to reopen.
He added that he had later took the decision to close his business because of issues with the building.
“I no longer run a business from that shop,” Thoun said
But, passing sentence, Judge Michael Heath told Thoun: “This is a shocking case and the picture that confronted the inspectors was a quite dreadful one.
“The irresistible inference I can draw is that you did not implement adequate hygiene standards in order to avoid costs and to maximise your profits.
“The only sentence I can justify is immediate custody.
“You demonstrated complete disregard for food safety and it is surprising that nobody suffered serious harm to their health as a result of these offences.”