Court hears Halifax kebab house had thousands of cockroaches

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A Halifax takeaway was immediately shut down by environmental health officials after they discovered one of the worst ever cockroach infestations.

A pest controller called in to assess the extent of the problem at Naz’s Kebab House and Grill on Thomas Street South, found more than 3,110 cockroaches in traps he had laid out in the takeaway with a further 3,884 in traps put out in an upstairs flat.

Prosecutor Sobia Ahmed told a jury at Bradford Crown Court today (Tue) that the pest controller wanted the premises to be closed for three days so he could carry out spraying, but registered owner Mohammed Azam refused.

‘’He said he couldn’t afford to shut down for that length of time,’’ said Miss Ahmed.

The court heard the infestation had begun in April 2012 and had developed over the subsequent six months.

Three days after the pest controller’s visit environmental health officers went in to carry out a pre-planned food hygiene inspection at the takeaway and Miss Ahmed said they believed the premises were open for business when they attended on the afternoon of October 18.

Miss Ahmed said it quickly became clear that not only was the takeaway in a filthy condition, but the extensive infestation of cockroaches presented an imminent risk to public health.

‘’All three of the attending officers from the environmental health department believed this was one of the worst infestations of cockroaches they had ever seen,’’ said Miss Ahmed.

She described how the officers found hundreds more dead and live cockroaches in various traps in the kitchen and preparation areas.

‘’That having been the state of the premises it was deemed quite clearly to pose an imminent risk to public health if it remained open and as a result an emergency prohibition sentence was served on each of the three defendants requiring them to cease trading immediately,’’ said Miss Ahmed.

Azam, 39, of King Cross Road, Halifax, Iftikhar Ahmed, 41, of Rye Lane, Halifax, and 42-year-old Alquab Hussain, of Sandford Road, Bradford, have all gone on trial accused of failing to ensure adequate procedures were in place to control pests between September 9 and October 18, 2012.

Azam, who claims he sold on the business to Ahmed and Hussain in September 2012, has pleaded guilty to a separate charge of failing to ensure adequate procedures were in place to control pests covering the period between April 1 and September 10 2012.

All three defendants have denied further charges relating to breaches of food safety regulations regarding the filthy condition of the premises and the equipment.

Hussain told the environmental health officers that he was only working at the premises and had not been due to take over the business until October 22.

During questioning Azam said he had sold the business to Hussain and Ahmed on September 10, 2012.

He said it had been a ‘’verbal agreement’’ with no formal transfer of the lease and Ahmed had been managing the business.

‘’Azam claimed he had only become aware of the infestation when Mr Ahmed informed him in early October and he arranged for the pest controller to become involved at Mr Ahmed’s request,’’ said Miss Ahmed.

Hussain said the business was not operating on the day of the officers’ visit and they had been waiting for the pest controller to attend.

Ahmed denied being a partner in the business and said Azam had continued preparing food there despite the infestation.

The trial continues.