The owner of an Indian restaurant in North Yorkshire, England was sentenced to six years in prison this week after a man died from eating a dish containing peanuts at his business, the BBC reported Monday.
A jury at Teesside Crown Court found Mohammed Zaman, the owner of Indian Garden, guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence and six other food safety offenses. Though the victim, Paul Wilson, had asked for “no nuts” on his order of chicken tikka masala, Zaman was roughly £300,000 in debt and had recently switched out almond powder for a cheaper ingredient containing a mixture of nuts.
A 17-year-old had shown symptoms of an allergic reaction to the curry three weeks earlier, but Zaman did not heed the warning. The judge presiding over the case scolded the restaurant owner in court, and the decision could set a precedent for how negligence cases are handled in the British restaurant industry moving forward.
“Paul Wilson was in the prime of his life,” Judge Simon Bourne-Arton said during his decision. "He, like you, worked in the catering trade. He, unlike you, was a careful man."
Zaman moved to the UK from Bangladesh at the age of 15, and the BBC notes that his life had largely been seen as an immigrant success story before Wilson’s death. Still, Zaman attempted to shift the blame off of himself and onto his employees in the wake of the incident, claiming he wasn’t at the restaurant when the dish was made.
“[T]rying to distance himself from any involvement in his death. That had struck me through this investigation,” a spokesperson for the North Yorkshire Police told the BBC. “His lack of compassion and understanding about [what] he's actually done.”