THE owner of a mouse-infested Indian takeaway has been fined £5,700.
Environmental health officers from Portsmouth City Council were tipped off about a rodent problem at Shalimar in London Road, North End.
City magistrates heard that during one visit, an officer saw two mice run across worktops and a hob towards a pile of poppadoms.
Prosecutor Victoria Putnam told the court: ‘The environmental health team received a call about pests. An inspection was carried out by the team.
‘They found the kitchen was in disrepair and there was evidence of mouse activity.’
Miss Putnam explained the business’s old owner took over as the manager, and the council had been under the impression he was still the food business operator.
Because Muhibar Rahman had not registered as a food business establishment owner, no inspection of the premises was carried out by the authority when he took over. She added: ‘Following that, on March 21 the officer returned.
‘Cold water had not been connected to the taps and the walls behind the appliances were not significantly cleaned.
‘Live mice were found on the cooking workstations while there they were holding the meeting. The officer formed the opinion that it posed a risk to customers.’
She said the business was closed for a week following the visit.
Tom Horder, defending, said his client had spent £8,000 on improving the business since the council’s visits.
He told the court his client had been in and out of the country visiting his wife, son and unwell father in Bangladesh over the past few years and had left the day-to-day running of the business down to the takeaway’s manager.
He said Mr Rahman was only visiting the business around once a week, when in the country, because he had a job at another restaurant.
He said: ‘In 2011, the manager’s father died. He took his eye off the ball and found life very difficult. It is acknowledged that things were not done and not kept up to scratch because he did not have a grip on what was going on.’
Mr Horder said his client had used £8,000 from the company’s profits to improve the kitchen and other areas of the restaurant.
He said his client now visits the takeaway three or four times a week and has a more hands-on approach.
Mr Rahman pleaded guilty to four offences under health and hygiene laws and to not registering as the owner of a food business establishment.
He was fined £4,500 and told to pay prosecution costs of £1,126.77 and a £100 victim surcharged.
After sentencing, Alan Cufley, head of environmental health at the city council, said: ‘We will always work with businesses to improve hygiene and safety regimes where problems are found.
‘However, the issues found at the Shalimar were a repeat case of disregard for food safety over a period of time with the business failing to engage with us when the issues first came to light.
‘In these circumstances it was necessary for the council to take formal action to protect the health and safety of the Shalimar’s customers.’
No-one at Shalimar was available for comment.