A businessman whose filthy makeshift butchers made £2 million supplying chicken to takeaways has walked free from court.
Kamran Ajaib, 28, used Y-front underpants to clean the premises at Hamza Poultry Limited in Bristol – which had just one ‘very dirty’ sink for washing hands.
Bristol Crown Court heard the brand-new white underclothes were still at the site after it had previously been used as a clothing supplier.
Chicken from Hamza Poultry was sold to 60 businesses, including takeaway restaurants, kebab shops and supermarkets in the city and as far afield as Swindon, Cardiff and Swansea.
But married father-of-two Ajaib’s processing plant on the Fishponds Trading Estate, Bristol, had none of the necessary food hygiene approvals or licences to work with meat.
Environmental health officers from Bristol City Council raided the unmarked site on the Fishponds Trading Estate after a customer at Best Kebab, also in Bristol, found metal wire in a piece of chicken in May 2011.
They found a band saw with meat residue around it, toilets opening straight on to the only washing area – and brand new pairs of underpants being used as cleaning cloths.
There were also open wheelie bins containing meat debris and bones.
Mobile phones and receipts seized in the raid showed the meat was being distributed across the south west to what were described in court as ‘KFC clones and kebab shops’.
Judge Michael Roach sentenced Ajaib to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, after he pleaded guilty to eight charges of breaching food hygiene regulations.
The Bradford resident was also made to complete 200 hours of unpaid work.
But only a fraction of the £2,002,672 turned over by the firm will be paid back, as Bristol Crown Court heard Ajaib’s current assets are just £51,703. That sum must be repaid within six months.
The judge said: ‘Anybody who looks at the photographs will be enormously dismayed by what they see. The premises are deplorably dirty, they are not fit for meat production, cutting or otherwise.
‘The floors are filthy. There’s no hot water. The opportunity for those working there to wash their hands or equipment was one very dirty sink unit.
‘The public have a right to expect that those who deal with food in the way that you did are authorised and producing their food in a sanitary way.
‘The dangers to public health by what you did are very evident.’
Iain Macdonald, prosecuting, said: ‘Photographs show cleaning cloths, which were in fact underpants.
‘It transpired that the previous occupant of the premises had been a supplier of clothing. It appears these were items left at the premises and subsequently used for cleaning purposes.’
Four tonnes of chicken and beef were seized from the premises and Ajaib was arrested, Mr Macdonald said.
The court heard the business later re-opened as a cold store and operated legally, but was closed in 2012 by Ajaib.
Robin Shellard, defending, said: ‘The chicken itself was sold from reputable suppliers. This was a bona fide product.
‘The product itself was then sold at market rate to regulated restaurants.’
He said publicity from previous hearings had a ‘devastating effect’ on Ajaib and made him a ‘laughing stock’ due to the y-front rags being used to clean the site.
‘The underpants were all new, all clean and they were used as rags,’ Mr Shellard explained.
He added Ajaib had two children, aged four and two, and helped his wife who had “very poor” English.
Ajaib had told a previous hearing that he had stepped in at short notice to help his family, saying the chicken arrived in boxes from European Union-regulated factories and was left in those boxes.
However, he later admitted eight charges of failing to comply with food hygiene regulations, between June 2010 and May 2011.
Co-defendant Hamza Poultry Limited, which is in the process of liquidation and of which Ajaib is the sole director and shareholder, also pleaded guilty to the same eight charges.
Speaking after the case, John Barrow, principal environmental health officer at Bristol City Council, said: ‘When we looked at his invoice books, we found distribution from Carmarthen in west Wales, right along the M4 corridor down to Newport, Monmouthshire, the Forest of Dean, Stroud, Gloucester, Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Swindon and Chippenham.’
‘It was a huge area – a total of 60 businesses who were being supplied by this company. It was supplying over 20 tonnes of chicken a week.
‘The premises was absolutely disgusting and the risk of contamination from the chicken was really, really high.’
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