A south London restaurant owner has been fined £20,000 for a string of hygiene offences including battering a rat to death in front of environmental health inspectors.
Rajakumar Rajalingam, who runs the New Chutney Express in Tooting, admitted a catalogue of food hygiene breaches and a trading standards offence at Kingston Crown Court last week.
The court heard how during a routine inspection, Wandsworth Council health inspectors watched Rajalingam kill a rat in front of them, while more rodents appeared at the premises and one inspector almost trod on one. The officers later said that they had never witnessed such a scene during a food hygiene inspection.
The court heard Rajalingam was using a nearby business unit to prepare and cook dishes for the New Chutney Express on Tooting High Street. The unit was found by health inspectors to be overrun with rats and mice, with their droppings in food preparation areas and shelves and part-gnawed chicken bones were also discovered.
The rodents were believed to have come into the kitchen through an uncovered drain below a washing up sink.
The Kingston Crown Court judge ordered Rajalingam to pay £20,000 and described his actions as "disgraceful" adding he should be "heartily ashamed of himself". He added he had "brought the restaurant business into disrepute" and put the "public at risk of serious illness".
Rajalingam, who had previously faced legal action from Wandsworth Council in 2007 for selling counterfeit champagne, was also fined £5,000 for selling fake Jacob's Creek wine in his shop.
London restaurant closed by rat infestation >>](http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/09/02/2010/332165/London-restaurant-closed-by-rat-infestation.htm)
By Kerstin Kühn
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