A FORMER Walsall curry house owner whose business was described as “one of the worst-ever seen” by environmental health officers has avoided an immediate prison sentence.
Ibrar Hussain was given a sixth-month sentence, suspended for 18 months, after admitting dangerous hygiene failings which were uncovered by officers during a visit to Caldmore Balti.
The Caldmore Road based balti house was riddled with the worst mouse infestation officers had ever witnessed, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard.
Live cockroaches and old rat droppings were also found in the kitchen which was dirty and fell well below minimum hygiene standards.
And food handlers were witnessed preparing food among mouse droppings where no attempt had been made to clean them away.
Mouse droppings were also found in poppadom containers.
Environmental health officers used their emergency powers to close down the restaurant on March 4 last year.
Hussain, aged 57, was handed the suspended prison sentence along with 150 hours community service and a fine of £2,300 when he appeared before the court on Monday (June 16).
Councillor Mike Bird, leader of Walsall Council, said the case “underlined the tough and uncompromising stance” that the authority will take with businesses that flout hygiene laws and place consumers at risk.
“Mice and cockroaches contaminate food with dangerous bacteria such as Salmonella which can make consumers gravely ill,” he added.
“Their presence in a food business is repugnant and totally unacceptable.
“The appalling conditions uncovered at Caldmore Balti House revealed a complete and systemic failure by Mr Hussain to discharge his responsibilities laid down under food hygiene and safety laws.”
The case was initially heard by Walsall Magistrate's Court, where Anis Ali, defending, said there were a culmination of factors that led to Hussain, of Dayton Street, not being able to “fulfill his responsibilities.”
Mr Ali added: “[Hussain] tells me the business has failed and he is on the brink of financial ruin.
“He is looking to transfer his interest in the business to any interested parties.”
The matter was referred to Wolverhampton Crown Court after magistrates decided that their sentencing powers were inadequate to deal with the severity of the hygiene breaches.
Caldmore Balti House is no longer trading, a Walsall Council spokesperson confirmed.