Takeaway bosses guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence after nut allergy death of 15-year-old Megan Lee

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Damon Green

Two takeaway bosses have been found guilty of the manslaughter of a 15-year-old girl who died after suffering an allergic reaction.

Nut allergy sufferer Megan Lee died after eating a meal from the Royal Spice Takeaway in Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, which contained the "widespread presence of peanut protein".

The court heard Megan's friend ordered the meal through the Just Eat website and wrote "prawns, nuts" in the comments and notes section.

Despite this, Megan had an immediate reaction to a seekh kebab she ate and died two days later on New Years' Day 2017, after suffering irreversible brain damage from a later asthma attack.

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

Harun Rashid (left) and Mohammed Kuddus (right) have been found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence of Megan Lee. Credit: PA

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 Ltd.

Family members of Megan were in tears in the public gallery as the two men, who are both Bangladeshi nationals, were found guilty.

Following Megan's death a police inquiry was launched and on January 6, 2017, the restaurant was immediately closed down by Trading Standards and environmental hygiene officers.

Royal Spice Takeaway in Oswaldtwistle was closed by Trading Standards after Megan's death. Credit: ITV News

Peter Wright QC, prosecuting, told the court her death was a "disaster waiting to happen".

It was alleged there was a "litany of failings" in the kitchen including poor hygiene and no records of ingredients kept.

In a statement read outside court, Megan's parents Adam and Gemma Lee told how their "lives will never be the same" following "the loss of our beautiful daughter" which "has completely devastated us".

They continued: "Megan's positive presence and infections smile will forever be missed.

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

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

"It's these thoughts that cause us great sadness because nobody deserved it more than Megan."

Mr Lee continued that he and his family would continue to work with the Anaphylaxis Campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of allergies.

"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.

"We urge all food businesses to improve their standards in food safety and take allergies seriously."

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

Speaking after the trial, Karen Tonge, from the Crown Prosecution Service 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."

Royal Spice Takeaway has since reopened under new ownership.

Kuddus and Rashid have both been released on bail to be sentenced on November 7.

The judge warned both men they are likely to spend time behind bars.