Parents of nut allergy death girl urge firms not to gamble with people’s lives

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The parents of a 15-year-old who died after suffering an allergic reaction to a takeaway have urged businesses not to “play Russian roulette” with lives as two men were found guilty of her manslaughter.

Nut allergy sufferer Megan Lee died after eating food from the Royal Spice takeaway in Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, on December 30 2016.

On Friday, a jury at Manchester Crown Court found takeaway owner Mohammed Abdul Kuddus, 40, and manager Harun Rashid, 38, guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence.

Her parents Adam and Gemma Lee called for food businesses to see the verdicts as a “warning” to improve their standards.

The two-week trial heard Megan’s friend ordered the meal through the Just Eat website and wrote “prawns, nuts” in the comments and notes section.

But the meal, which included an onion bhaji, a seekh kebab and a Peshwari naan, was later found to have the “widespread presence” of peanut protein.

The two-week trial heard there was a “litany of failings” in the kitchen including poor hygiene and no records of ingredients kept.

Speaking outside court, Mr Lee said: “Whilst we may have received some justice with today’s verdicts, we live in hope that today’s result is a warning to other food businesses operating in such a deplorable and ignorant manner to learn from this and improve their standards with immediate effect.”

He added: “Do not guess, do not play ignorant, do not play Russian roulette with precious lives.”

Rashid, of Rudd Street, Haslingden, who had claimed he was merely a delivery driver at the restaurant at the time, was also found guilty of failing to discharge a general duty of employers, contrary to the Health and Safety at Work Act, and another count of failing to put in place, implement and maintain a permanent procedure or procedures in contravention of European Union food safety regulations.

Kuddus, of Belper Street, Blackburn, had already pleaded guilty to those two charges on behalf of himself and on behalf of Royal Spice Takeaway.

Harun Rashid, left, and Mohammed Kuddus
Harun Rashid, left, and Mohammed Kuddus (Danny Lawson/PA)

Judge Mrs Justice Yip told them: “You need to prepare yourselves for a custodial sentence.”

Megan died on January 1 2017 after suffering irreversible brain damage from an asthma attack.

Paying tribute to her, her parents said: “It breaks our hearts that Megan didn’t get the chance to sit her GCSE exams, something she had worked so incredibly hard for, to celebrate her 16th birthday or go to the school prom with her friends.

“Megan didn’t get the opportunity to fulfil her ambition of working in musical theatre, to explore the world, fall in love or have children of her own.

“It’s these thoughts that cause great sadness, because nobody deserved it more than Megan.”

Following her death, a police inquiry was launched and later on January 6 the restaurant was immediately closed down by Trading Standards and environmental hygiene officers.

Karen Tonge, from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said: “The law required Kuddus and Rashid to take reasonable steps to ensure customer safety and to provide food that was not harmful.

“Their manifest failures and complete disregard for the safety of customers was astonishing.

“No appropriate systems or conditions were in place to protect Megan or any customer with a known allergy.”

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