York & North Yorkshire

Easingwold peanut death: Indian Garden owner 'not to blame', court hears

Mohammed Zaman
Image caption Mohammed Zaman was owner of the Indian Garden restaurant in Easingwold where Paul Wilson ordered a takeaway curry

A restaurant owner accused of killing a customer who died from an allergic reaction to a curry "was not to blame" for his death, a court has heard.

Paul Wilson, 38, suffered a severe anaphylactic shock in January 2014 after eating a takeaway from the Indian Garden in Easingwold, North Yorkshire.

Mohammed Zaman, 52, of Aylesham Court, Huntington, denies manslaughter.

Teesside Crown Court heard Mr Zaman was not on the premises when the curry was ordered and did not know what happened.

Mr Wilson died at his home in Helperby, North Yorkshire, weeks after another customer with a nut allergy bought a meal from one of Mr Zaman's six restaurants, then had a reaction and required hospital treatment, the court heard.

Mr Zaman told the court he employed managers to run his outlets and their duties included ordering ingredients and hiring staff.

The restaurateur is accused of cutting corners with ingredients by using cheaper groundnut powder, containing peanuts, rather than almond powder.

Image copyright Google
Image caption The Indian Garden restaurant pictured in 2011

He said it was not his decision to change the supply order from almond powder to groundnut powder and when he found out, he demanded the supplier take back the stock.

Restaurant 'acclaim'

Richard Wright QC, prosecuting, asked: "You choose to blame other people, Mr Zaman, rather than taking any responsibility yourself, and that is your approach to the case, isn't it?"

The Bangladeshi-born businessman replied: "Yes, that is the reality."

When questioned by Alistair Webster QC, Mr Zaman said he was aware the groundnut powder had been switched before Mr Wilson's death and he had told his manager not to use it because it might change the taste of his curries.

The father-of-four denied his business was based on making quick savings on ingredients.

He claimed he never used groundnut powder since 1981 and believed his businesses served up 3,000 meals on an average week. He said he had no previous reports of customers suffering an allergic reaction.

The jury was told Mr Zaman's restaurants won local business honours and acclaim from Trip Advisor, the British Catering Association, the British Curry Awards.

Mr Zaman also denies perverting the course of justice and six food safety offences.

The trial continues.

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