Illegal caterer posed risk to public health

Winchester City Council has again demonstrated that it does not take food safety breaches lightly after successfully prosecuting of a local catering firm found to be operating illegally.

Action was taken against Paul Gillingham of County Caterers after council inspectors discovered he was running an illegal food business from his father’s house.

The council described the property that the food was being prepared in as “filthy and verminous” and said food was being stored in conditions that posed a “significant risk” to public health.

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It said that cooked chicken, cheese, mayonnaise and salad could have presented a serious risk of illness to anyone who may have consumed them due to the way they were being kept.

Standards of hygiene and food safety were so poor that the property was shut down and a Magistrates Court Order issued prohibiting the use of the property for catering activities.

It became apparent to inspectors that Gillingham continued to trade from the property and it was subsequently established that he broke the Magistrates Court Order on over 30 separate occasions in an eight-month period.

The breaches were so flagrant that the council said had no option but to launch legal proceedings. In the addition, it pursued the recovery of money gained by Gillingham through his criminal activity.

At the hearing Gillingham pleaded guilty to the food hygiene offences and accepted that he had derived £95,000 in criminal benefit.

The court ordered the immediate confiscation of his assets, which included £2,200 in savings, his car and Ford Transit Van, together worth an estimated £3,250.

Gillingham will have to repay £89,550 as a result of his criminal activities.

Last week, Winchester City Council announced it had prosecuted The Balaka restaurant after it broke six food hygiene offences, most of which related to dirty equipment.

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