- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A British restaurateur on trial for manslaughter was accused Monday of putting “profit before safety” by a prosecutor who blames him for the death of a customer who died after eating a curry meal containing peanuts.

Prosecuting attorney Richard Wright (Queen’s Counsel) told jurors Monday that Indian Garden restaurant owner Mohammed Zaman was aware of the risks involved with using peanuts in his cooking.

Nevertheless, the lawyer said the restaurateur disregarded repeated warnings in order to cut costs, ultimately resulting in the January 2014 death of a customer who was allergic to peanuts.

Mr. Zaman, 53, was charged with manslaughter after customer Paul Wilson consumed a meal which contained peanuts and later died.

Mohammed Zaman received numerous warnings that he was putting his customers’ health, and potentially their lives, at risk,” Mr. Wright said at Monday’s hearing, Press Association reported. “Tragically for Paul Wilson, Mohammed Zaman took none of those opportunities and ignored all of the warnings he was given.”

According to the attorney, Wilson was found dead in his North Yorkshire home shortly after consuming a takeaway curry dish containing peanuts that had been purchased from Indian Garden.

Wilson had alerted restaurant staff of his severe allergy, Mr. Wright said, but was served a dish containing peanuts and later died.

Less than a month earlier, Mr. Wright said, a 17-year-old customer at another one of Mr. Zaman’s restaurant was hospitalized with anaphylaxis after she similarly ate a dish containing peanuts.

In between the two incidents, Mr. Wright said that a trading standards officer dined at Mr. Zaman’s Jaipur Spice restaurant and found evidence of peanuts in a meal she told was peanut-free, as well as a box clearly labeled “peanuts” as she toured the kitchen.

The investigator allegedly told Mr. Zaman that customers must be informed that his restaurants had peanuts on premises, Mr. Wright said. Wilson ordered a curry dish days later sans nuts, the attorney continued, and a subsequent investigation of the kitchen found that groundnut powder had contaminated several ingredients.

Mr. Wright told jurors this week that the restaurateur ignored the risks even after the teen customer’s near-death experience in order to boost profits and had switched from using almond powder to the more affordable groundnut mix, containing peanuts, in June 2013 despite warnings from his supplier.

“His was a reckless and cavalier attitude to risk and one that we, the prosecution, would describe as grossly negligent,” the attorney said.

“We say Paul Wilson did what he always did and ordered no nuts in clear and simple terms,” Mr. Wright added. “There was no confusion here. Instead, there was a business in which corners were being cut for the sake of profits, systems were non-existent and the customer was constantly exposed to danger.”

Mr. Wright said there’s “no doubt at all” that Wilson’s curry dish ultimately killed him.

Mr. Zaman, meanwhile, pleaded not guilty to charges of manslaughter by gross negligence, perverting the course of justice and to a half dozen food-safety violations.

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