Indian restaurant fined £175k after chef burned in gas explosion
14 January 2020
The former bosses of an Indian restaurant in the West Midlands have been handed suspended prison sentences and the company fined £175,000 after a chef suffered serious burns from a dangerous tandoor oven.
Sandwell Council prosecuted The Alachi International Restaurant in Cradley Heath after the chef was burned when the oven – which was leaking gas and had no ignition switch – exploded in his face.
The chef’s clothing caught fire and he sustained burns to his face, ears, hands and arms which were treated in hospital.
When an engineer acting for the council’s environmental health team checked the tandoor oven, he found it was being turned on and off using a set of pliers and had to be lit using a flaming piece of paper.
The pipework – which was held together by foam and sticky tape – was also leaking gas which ignited when the chef attempted to light it when he was injured in November 2017.
The court heard that former director Khalid Hussain and former manager Mahbubur Rahman Chowdhury had failed to report the incident as required by the law.
Safety checks also found that the flame failure devices on other gas appliances in the restaurant’s kitchen were either missing or had been bypassed.
The ignition buttons on a large cooker were being held in place with string and metal wire and a smaller cooker had a twisted gas pipe and the safety chains were missing. The large cooker also had missing burners and was condemned along with the tandoor.
Hussain, Chowdhury and Alachi Restaurant Limited were prosecuted by Sandwell Council’s environmental health and legal teams and appeared at Wolverhampton Crown Court for sentencing on Monday 16 December.
Both the defendants and the company pleaded guilty to ten health and safety offences in total, including that the oven was unsafe and that Gas Safe regulations had been breached.
Alachi Restaurant Limited was fined a total of £175,000 and ordered to pay £4,300 towards costs.
Sentencing, Recorder Hegarty QC stated that the offences were so serious that only a custodial sentence would suffice. However, he was persuaded to suspend the sentences for two years.
Each defendant was also ordered to pay £4,000 in costs and sentenced to a total of 38 months in prison for the various offences, to run concurrently for 10 months, suspended for two years. The defendants were also ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and were disqualified from acting as director or management for five years.
The restaurant is now under new ownership.
A spokesperson for Sandwell Council said: "Our checks found very dangerous conditions in the kitchen of this restaurant that resulted in one of the chefs being seriously injured. It’s only by luck that he wasn’t killed, and that other people were not injured."