A British man was convicted of manslaughter after a customer at his Indian restaurant died because of a peanut allergy.
Restaurant owner Mohammed Zaman, 53 was sentenced to six years in prison on Monday for the death of Paul Wilson, 38, a highly allergic bar manager who died after eating chicken tikka masala.
Wilson had reportedly told the staff at Zaman’s restaurant Indian Garden in North Yorkshire, England, about his allergy to peanuts.
But police say despite ordering a nut-free meal — the lid of the takeaway dish was clearly marked “no nuts” — it was later determined that the dish contained very high levels of peanuts.
Prosecutors had argued that Wilson’s death was the result of Zaman swapping out almond powder for a cheaper, peanut-based mix. The court heard that he even ignored another customer’s near-death experience.
“Time and again he ignored the danger and did not protect his customers,” prosecutor Richard Wright told a jury in Middlesbrough in northeast England, according to the Daily Mail. Zaman had “put profit before safety, and he cut corners at every turn.”
Prosecutors say Zaman’s conviction, the first of its kind in Britain, sets an example around the world: restaurant owners should be held accountable for not meeting allergy needs.
“Paul’s death was avoidable and the outcome of this case sends a clear message to those who operate similar businesses that if they choose to operate in such a grossly negligent way, they are liable to prosecution as well as having to live with the potential deadly consequences,” North Yorkshire Detective Shaun Page said in a statement.
Wilson was found dead on the bathroom floor by his roommate. He went into severe anaphylactic shock. The barely eaten curry dish was found on the kitchen table.
Zaman had immigrated to England from Bangladesh at the age of 15 before getting into the restaurant business. Throughout his career, he’s owned half a dozen award-winning Indian restaurants.
His kids reportedly went to private schools and prestigious universities.
But police say Zaman started pinching his pennies. He began employing undocumented workers and swapping ingredients with cheaper imitation ingredients to save money.
Consequently, police say Zaman’s cutting corners had led to the death of a man who was always extremely careful with his peanut allergy.
“Nothing can bring Paul back but it is our sincere hope that his death will raise awareness in the food industry so that this never happens again. We also ask anyone with a food allergy to always be aware,” Wilson’s parents Margaret and Keith Wilson said in a statement.
With files from the Associated Press