Fines and suspended sentence handed to former restaurant owners
Posted on Monday 4th December 2023
Two former restaurant owners were handed suspended prison sentences and a fine after pleading guilty to serious food hygiene offences.
Aktar Miah and Afzal Miah were given 12-month and 10-month prison sentences respectively, suspended for 18 months by a judge at Cardiff Crown Court.
Aktar also received an order to complete 160 hours of unpaid work, while Afzal was ordered to complete 150 hours.
It follows successful enforcement action taken by Newport City Council against the two defendants and their food business, Desi Kitchen (NPT) Ltd.
The action related to 53 serious food hygiene offences at Jewel Balti, on Chepstow Road, and the failure to maintain good food hygiene standards at Jewel Balti.
Officers from the council’s environmental health team visited Jewel Balti in January 2022. The business was open and trading when the officers arrived. The visit was made following complaints of unhygienic conditions at the premises to the council.
Upon inspection, officers found evidence of:
- A significant cockroach infestation affecting equipment and food storage and preparation rooms
- A rat infestation in the outside food and equipment rooms. Rats were observed moving through holes in walls during the visit.
- Decayed pooling food found on the floor, with significant numbers of maggots and cockroaches
- Cooked food found uncovered in the fridge, stored in unsuitable containers
- Dirty and unhygienic conditions across the premises
- Poorly maintained structure
- Prepared ingredients and food equipment stored in unsuitable conditions in which cockroaches were also found
- The business attempted to stop officers from undertaking the inspection.
On completion of the inspection, the business agreed to a voluntary closure to rectify the issues identified.
The council served the business with improvement notices and the inspection resulted in a food hygiene rating of zero – urgent improvement required. The conditions warranted further enforcement.
The issues were not rectified, and the notices were not complied with, leading the council to take further action to prosecute the owners.
As well as the sentences handed down, Desi Kitchen (NPT) Ltd was also fined £14,000, and all three defendants were ordered to pay costs totalling £13,400.
Both Aktar and Afzal were also ordered to pay a £228 victim surcharge.
Councillor James Clarke, cabinet member for strategic planning, housing and regulation, said: “Food hygiene legislation is a key part of our integrated health protection system. It is in place to ensure businesses operate in a safe manner, avoid causing ill health, and avoid placing unnecessary burden on the NHS.
“The responsibility to maintain proper food hygiene standards falls squarely on the shoulders of the food business operator.
“It is clear from the robust nature of the sentences handed down by the court that the conditions found at Jewel Balti were unacceptable. The lack of engagement, poor progress and continued unacceptable conditions at the business after receiving a hygiene rating of zero left us no choice but to pursue criminal prosecution.
“This should send a clear warning to any food business that operates in such unhygienic conditions that we will not hesitate to take robust action if we discover such flagrant disregard for public health.”