ROGUE AND NOSH: Restaurant ‘Just Eat’ conman jailed

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A bogus restaurant owner was today waking up behind bars after his ‘Just Eat’ ruse was smashed.

Muhaiminul Choudhury, 46, was taking online orders at his Maharaja restaurant via the popular takeaway website – but the terminal was registered to Chilli Delight, a nearby takeaway that had closed down.

Choudhury – who has a catalogue of food safety offences stretching back 14 years – claimed the unregistered Maharaja wasn’t actually open when council staff visited.

But his con quickly unravelled when a member of staff walked past holding a brown paper bag containing food and a ‘Just Eat’ receipt totalling £19.95.

He was jailed at Preston Crown Court for four months.

It is the first time Blackpool Council has ever had someone jailed for food hygiene offences.

Coun Gillian Campbell, Deputy Leader of Blackpool Council, said: “There is a reason why food hygiene standards are in place, they are needed to ensure the public is protected and their health is not put at risk. The catalogue of failings over the last 14 years is an absolute disgrace, Mr Choudhury has shown time and time again that he is not fit to run a restaurant or takeaway. Our officers have worked tirelessly to bring him in front of the courts as he continually flouted the law putting consumers at risk.

“This is the first time one of our food hygiene prosecutions has ever led to a prison sentence which shows the seriousness of the offence. It is our job to make sure that food businesses operate within in the law and this sentence can only be a good thing for consumers in Blackpool.

“I hope this serves as a warning to anyone running a food businesses what the outcome could be if they don’t follow the standards that are in place.”

Choudhury had a chequered history of non compliance with food safety regulations dating back as far as 2002, Preston Crown Court heard. He was previously the proprietor of Dial-A-Curry on Central Drive – previously known as Bengal Spice.

In September 2009, he was fined after admitting a breach of food hygiene regulations.

A year later he was fined again for further breaches.

in November 2012, when seven hygiene offences were admitted he was served with a Food Prohibition Order.

But on February 13 last year food safety officers visited the Maharaja, on Dickson Road, which had not been registered with the council.

Prosecuting, Vicki Cartmell said: “Upon arrival the premises the lights were on, the tables were dressed, staff were present and it appeared to be open and trading. Mr and Mrs Choudhury were present during the inspection in the kitchen area, food was cooking on the range, hot food was in the hot cupboard and there was food in the fridges.

“The officers immediately noted upon entering the kitchen that it was dirty and immediately asked Mr Choudhury why the kitchen was dirty, to which he finally responded “where is it dirty?”.

The officer began the inspection and took photographs of her findings.

“When questioned regarding the ownership of the business, the defendant stated his daughter, Salema was the owner.

“Mr Choudhury went on to explain that they were not actually open, they were just preparing for the following night’s opening.

“Unfortunately at that moment a member of staff walked past holding a brown paper bag containing food and a ‘Just Eat’ receipt totalling £19.95.”

The court heard officers later found a ‘Just Eat’ terminal used to take online food orders was registered to Chilli Delight, a nearby takeaway that had closed down.

During the visit officers found a dirt and grease on the floors, walls, first aid kit, taps, dishwasher, microwave, cookers, controls and isolation switches, equipment feet and wheels, spice rack, ceiling and vents as well as rubbish to the rear of the premises.

Chopping boards were worn and damaged, dishcloths were dirty, drainage was faulty and there was failure to provide hazard analysis or keep hazard (food safety management procedures) documents up to date.

He admitted two charges that had failed to register he was running a food business with the council, and was misleading consumers by using a‘Just Eat’ terminal for another takeaway.

Choudhury also admitted seven other hygiene charges.