A restaurant owner who "blatantly disregarded" a court closure order just days after being shut down over the "appalling" state of his kitchens has been fined more than £10,000.
Gaby Kolajo, the owner of Lagos Island in Leyton, east London, was caught serving customers at a birthday party held at the Lea Bridge Road premises on 1 September 2018.
Just a few days earlier he had been served a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice ordering him to close the business until a mouse and cockroach infestation were dealt with. Kolajo reportedly made a number of false claims to explain the presence of the diners.
He initially said that the order only applied to 417 Lea Bridge Road and that the people were using the neighbouring property 419, despite the fact they were the same premises.
A further inspection of the kitchen found a container filled with what was believed to be mouldy chicken. When questioned about the contents, Kolajo said it was a speciality traditional Nigerian dish of boiled crab.
He was charged with: failing to keep the premises clean, in good repair and good condition; failing to put in place adequate measures to control pests; opening the premises and preparing and serving food to paying customers while the health risk condition remained imminent; and placing unsafe food on the market which was unfit for human consumption.
Stratford Magistrates Court found him guilty of all four offences and imposed the highest fine for the offence of breaching the Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Order when he appeared on Tuesday 7 December 2021. The case had been delayed because of Covid restrictions.
Councillor Clyde Loakes, deputy leader of Waltham Forest Council, said: "The magistrate clearly saw through Kolajo's claims and used their full powers as a warning that such behaviour will not be tolerated.
"The state of the kitchens was bad enough but the owner decided to ignore the environmental health officer and the court to continue serving customers putting their health at serious risk.
"As a local authority we have limited powers in what we can do to a business – even one that so egregiously ignores orders – but you can rest assured that we will use all the powers available to us to take action against the minority of food business operators who do not take their responsibilities seriously like Mr Kolajo."
Lagos Island was last inspected in July 2020 and was given a food hygiene rating of zero. Kolajo was told he must pay a total of £10,170 (including £2,000 in costs to the local authority and a £170 victim surcharge).