A UK court on Tuesday sentenced the Bangladeshi-origin owner of an Indian restaurant to six years in jail for the death of a customer who suffered an allergy-related shock after eating a curry that contained peanuts.
The jury of Teesside Crown Court had on Monday found Mohammed Zaman, 52, guilty of manslaughter after a trial in which the court was told he cut corners by using cheaper ingredients containing peanuts.
The customer, 38-year-old Paul Wilson who suffered from peanuts allergy, had specifically asked for a meal with no nuts in January 2014 from the Indian Garden restaurant in Easingwold, north Yorkshire.
The sentencing judge told Zaman: “Paul Wilson was in the prime of his life. He, like you, worked in the catering trade. He, unlike you, was a careful man”.
But the judge acknowledged Zaman was of “good character”.
In a statement read out in court, Wilson’s parents Margaret and Keith, from Sheffield, said they felt “numb, shock and disbelief” over their son’s death.
“I feel robbed that I won’t share the rest of my life with Paul,” Keith Wilson said.
During the hearing, Zaman had denied responsibility but the jury was told he switched almond powder for a cheaper groundnut mix, which contained peanuts.
Prosecuting lawyer Richard Wright said: “We say Paul Wilson did what he always did and ordered no nuts in clear and simple terms. There was no confusion here. Instead there was a business in which corners were being cut for the sake of profits, systems were non-existent and the customer was constantly exposed to danger”.
“There is no doubt at all that the curry he ate, the lid of which bore the legend ‘no nuts’, contained peanuts and that the peanuts caused his death by way of an allergic reaction to eating them,” the lawyer said.
“An analysis of the curry recovered from the plate in the kitchen of Paul Wilson’s home also demonstrated that peanut had killed him. Less than three grammes of the sauce from the curry would have been sufficient to give rise to the level of peanut in the stomach”.