The owner of an Indian takeaway restaurant in North Yorkshire has been convicted of manslaughter after a customer died from an allergic reaction to a curry. Bangladeshi-born Mohammed Zaman was the owner of the Indian Garden restaurant when Paul Wilson suffered a severe anaphylactic shock in January 2014.
On 23 May Zaman was found guilty of manslaughter after a trial at Teesside Crown Court and has been sentenced to six years in prison. The 52-year-old had 'cut corners' by using cheaper ingredients that contained peanuts, causing the allergic reaction of 38-year-old Wilson.
Zaman denied manslaughter and told the court that it was not his decision to change the supply order from almond powder to groundnut powder. He added that when he found out about the change, he asked the supplier to take back the stock that contained nuts.
The court also heard that Wilson had specified no nuts when he ordered a chicken tikka masala from the Indian Garden. The instruction was written on his order, as well as on the lid of his takeaway box. Teesside Crown Court heard that Zaman was not on the premises when the dish was ordered and was unaware of what had happened, having hired managers to run his restaurants and order ingredients.
During the trial, Zaman admitted to knowing about the ingredient switch but said that he had told his manager not to use it as it might change the taste of the dishes. He told the court that he had not used groundnut powder since 1981.
One week before Wilson's death, a trading standards officer is said to have found traces of peanuts in a meal that was supposed to be peanut-free in another one of Zaman's restaurants. The court heard that the officer then told all staff at the restaurant that customers must be informed that their chefs were using peanuts.
According to the BBC, Richard Wright QC, prosecuting, told the court: "Mohammed Zaman received numerous warnings that he was putting his customers' health, and potentially their lives, at risk. Tragically for Paul Wilson, Mohammed Zaman took none of those opportunities and ignored all of the warnings he was given."