'Filthy' Forest of Dean butcher is fined £54,000

By Court Reporter in Local People

A BUTCHER who illegally supplied huge amounts of meat to London restaurants from his ’filthy’ premises in Huntley was ordered to pay £54,000 in fines and costs.

David Tomlins, 66, prepared meat products in conditions so ’poor and un-hygenic’ that anyone who saw them would not have wanted to eat anything he sold, said a judge at Gloucester Crown Court.

Tomlins, of Green Lane, Hucclecote, Gloucester, who has now closed his ’Country Butchers’ business, admitted seven charges of failing to keep his premises clean and one of failing to comply with an improvement notice from hygiene inspectors.

He also admitted two offences of ’flagrantly and dishonestly’ selling meat and meat products to pubs and restaurants in London without authority from the Food Standards Agency.

Special regulations cover the transport of meat more than 35 miles from a butchery but Tomlins did not even tell inspectors that he was selling hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of products a year to London eateries. said prosecutor Bernard Thorogood.

Mr Thorogood told the court that Tomlins’ customers included the Franco Manca pizza chain and Rocca di Pappa and that his trade to London eateries had begun in 2011, but confessed that he concealed that fact so the Food Standards Agency would not know he was flouting the strict regulations about transporting meat so far.

Mr Thorogood said that in August 2015 the Forest of Dean District Council’s food hygiene inspectors visited the butchery, following a tip off, and found a bag of putrefying meat behind the freezer. The smell attracted them to it and they saw ’ a great many maggots’ in it.

The inspectors also found blood dripping down the front of a turbo vac machine; the floor between that machine and the sausage machine was ’truly filthy’; cooked and raw meats were in contact with each other, risking contamination; there was animal fat on the basin tap.

Defence barrister Christopher Russell said: "Tomlins has been a butcher all his adult life but his business is now closed, bringing a sad and very undistinguished end to his many years of butchery.”

Sentencing Tomlins, Recorder Adam Vaitalingam told him: "It seems to me that no members of the public who saw the conditions at your premises would ever have knowingly eaten food coming from that shop. You were cutting corners, you were flouting the rules, and you were doing it for financial gain," he said.

He fined the defendant £24,000 which must be paid within a year and ordered him to pay prosecution costs of £30,000 within two years.

Councillor Marrilyn Smart,the Forest of Dean District Council’s cabinet member for the environment said: “We have a responsibility to ensure that all food premises and businesses in the district comply with Food Hygiene Regulations.

“When low standards of hygiene are identified, such failings are treated seriously, acted upon and if improvements are not made by the food business operators then we have a duty to take legal steps to protect the health of the public.”

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