Two men have been found guilty of manslaughter through gross negligence following the death of teenager Megan Lee in 2016 in what her family hope will serve as a “warning” to the industry.
Lee, 15, died after eating food from the Royal Spice Takeaway in Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, on 30 December 2016. Ordering through Just Eat, a friend of Lee’s had written “prawns, nuts” in the comments and notes section, but the food that arrived was later found to have had a “widespread presence” of peanut protein.
Megan died on New Year’s Day 2017, having suffered irreversible brain damage caused by an asthma attack.
A jury at Manchester Crown Court today found owner Mohammed Abdul Kuddus, 40, and manager Harun Rashid, 38, guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence. Rashid had claimed that he had not been the manager, but instead a delivery driver for the restaurant at the time.
Speaking outside court, Megan’s father Adam Lee said: “Whilst we may have received some justice with today’s verdicts, 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 from this and improve their standards with immediate effect.”
He added: “Do not guess, do not play ignorant, do not play Russian roulette with precious lives.”
Rashid was also found guilty of failing to discharge a general duty of employers, contrary to the Health and Safety at Work Act, and another count of failing to put in place, implement and maintain a permanent procedure or procedures in contravention of European Union food safety regulations.
Kuddus had already pleaded guilty to those two charges on behalf of himself and Royal Spice Takeaway Ltd.
Karen Tonge, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “The law required Kuddus and Rashid to take reasonable steps to ensure customer safety and to provide food that was not harmful.
“Their manifest failures and complete disregard for the safety of customers was astonishing.
“No appropriate systems or conditions were in place to protect Megan or any customer with a known allergy.”
The pair have been released on bail ahead of their sentencing on November 7.