Northern Ireland

Flicks restaurant: 'Over £300,000' paid to E.coli victims

Flicks Restaurant
Image caption In October 2012, Flicks voluntarily closed for the last time two days after the first cases of food poisoning emerged

More than £300,000 in compensation has been paid out to victims of a major E.coli outbreak in Northern Ireland in 2012, a court has heard.

At least 140 people contracted E.coli in an outbreak linked to the former Flicks Restaurant in Yorkgate, north Belfast.

Yorkgate Movie House owner Michael McAdam has already pleaded guilty to 11 food hygiene breaches.

About 80 people received compensation ranging from £3,000 to £12,000.

In August 2012, Flicks came under investigation over an E.coli outbreak, which affected four people.

Two months later, a second outbreak was detected where 141 cases were confirmed. In that outbreak, 19 people were admitted to hospital.

In the coming days it was declared a "major public health crisis", later described as the worst outbreak of E.coli in Northern Ireland's history.

On Wednesday, Belfast Crown Court heard that following several inspections at the restaurant, it was found that the staff toilet facilities did not have any soap or hand dryers. The basin could not be used as it was blocked with other items.

The court was told that while the source of the outbreaks has never been determined, one chef at Flicks was sent home with diarrhoea and returned when he may not have been fit to do so.

Another source may have been from chopped parsley that was brought into the kitchen and not kept at the correct proper temperature.

A defence barrister for Mr McAdam said the company had been operating since 1990, has several premises across Northern Ireland and has a "clear record without any difficulties".

He also told the court that Flicks was run by a manageress with more than 20 years' experience in the industry, and said Mr McAdam was not a restaurateur - but that he did voluntarily close Flicks' doors in the immediate aftermath of the outbreak in October 2012 and it has not been reopened.

The judge said sentencing will be passed in two weeks' time.

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