'Unhygienic' pub owners fined £40,000 over 'unsafe' lamb

Roast dinner in 'unhygienic' pub linked to death of pensioner

Food poisoning fine

A pub owner has been hit with fines and court costs totalling more than £40,000 after a pensioner who ate a roast lamb dinner died of an 'underlying cause' of food poisoning.

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Christine Morgan, 71, had dined with her husband Nigel and his cousin Monica Thomas on the 'pensioner's lunch' at the Clock and Key in Trispen, Cornwall.

The trio had seen a board advertising a "pensioner's lunch" which offered a roast meal and a dessert for a set price.

The pub is now under new management but has the same owners.

Mrs Morgan, from Camborne, her husband and his cousin all ordered and ate the roast lamb, Cornwall Live reports.

Diane Burrow, 56, from Crosstown near Bude, who had managed the pub's kitchen, and Lake Inns & Leisure Limited, a company owned by Nicholas Lake, which owns the pub along with a number of others, had previously pleaded guilty to two counts of serving unfit food.

Truro Crown Court today heard how, hours after Mrs Morgan had eaten the roast lamb on August 11, 2015, she began to feel unwell and suffered severe vomiting and diarrhoea.

Her symptoms worsened and Mr Morgan called a GP, who prescribed anti-sickness medication.

Richard Heller, prosecuting, said: "However, Mrs Morgan's condition became considerably worse during the course of the day."

He described how, by 10.45pm, she had become "unresponsive but was still breathing".

Mr Morgan called an ambulance and was told to carry out chest compressions on his wife until they arrived and could take over.

Mrs Morgan died on the way to hospital on the evening of August 12.

Her death was recorded as "aspiration of vomit" following episode of diarrhoea and vomiting with food poisoning being the underlying cause.

Officers from Cornwall Council visited the pub a week later and an investigation was launched.

Burrow and her husband Robert, who was responsible for the bar, told officers they hadn't been present until late afternoon on the day the diners visited.

Burrow had cooked the lamb days earlier and chilled it in the fridge, but the procedure, the court was told, that she described was "not safe".

"The greatest risk is whilst food sits in the danger zone where the pathogens grow and multiply.

"Not only would the lamb not have cooled sufficiently quickly, but, by placing it in the fridge immediately after cooking, the temperature of the other food in proximity of the foil wrapped piece of cooked meat would have increased," said Mr Heller.

In a statement read out by Mr Heller, the court heard how the family had lost "a wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend and confidant".

Mr Morgan described in the victim impact statement that he "still remembered vividly" his wife sitting on the toilet saying "all she wanted to do was go to sleep".

And how he had "prayed to God to take care of Christine and make her better".

"We all miss her terribly", he said in his statement, adding that her death had left a "massive void in our lives".

Her grandson described within the statement how his gran was "an amazing woman", and "loved her family".

"I will never stop missing her," he said.

Burrow was fined £750 and Lake Inns & Leisure Limited was fined £20,000 and was ordered to pay costs of £23,896.09.

Sentencing judge Simon Carr said: "This case was clearly a tragedy for everyone involved.

"No part of what I do can put a value on Mrs Morgan's life, that would be impossible.

"The loss to her family and friends is enormous and life long."

He said investigations by Cornwall Council showed that there was no doubt that the food poisoning had been caused by the lamb.

Judge Carr said Burrow's process of cooking and storing the meat was not carried out correctly and the re-heating of the roast lamb by another employee was inadequate.

"In short there was a series of errors," he said.

Judge Carr said, with regards to the company, that systems in place to provide training and supervision "fell short" and "people got into bad ways".

He stated that an inspection in 2014 classified the pub as "unsatisfactory" and, while they didn't relate to food standards, the company should have been seen as flag for other areas.

Judge Carr added that recommendations made during an internal inspection, including additional training for main food handlers, had not been carried out in August 2015 – some eight months later.

Burrow had shown "true remorse for what happened" and had stated that she would "never work in food management again".

He added it had significant impact on Burrow's "health and general wellbeing" adding that the "effect on Mrs Morgan's family has been devastating" and the family's statement "clearly showed how much she will be missed".

Sentencing Lakes Inn & Leisure Limited to the fine, he said the company had higher level of culpability than Burrow because "there was simply not the proper supervision and control over food handling".

Gary Donohue and partner Emma Rothery took over the running of the pub in December 2016 and said they have a stringent food standards regime.

The pub is still owned by Lakes Inns & Leisure, which is also known as Countryman Inns Group.

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