Pair jailed for deadly turkey dinner at Railway Hotel, Hornchurch

The Railway Hotel where the deadly dinner was served

The Railway Hotel where the deadly dinner was served - Credit: Archant

A pub chef and manager who served a poisonous Christmas dinner, which a mother-of-one died after eating, were jailed on Friday.

Della Callagher, 46, died two days after eating at the Railway Hotel in Station Lane, Hornchurch, in December 2012

In total 33 diners fell ill after eating the turkey dinner. Snaresbrook Crown Court heard that the proper safety procedures for reheating food had not been followed, creating the perfect breeding ground for Clostridium bacteria.

Chef Mehmet Kaya, 37, was jailed for a year while landlady Ann-Marie McSweeney, 40, was sentenced to 18 months in prison. Both had been found guilty of perverting the course of justice by falsifying kitchen records.

Pub giant Mitchells & Butlers, was fined £1.5 million for placing unsafe food on the market.

Mrs Callagher’s widower, John, 53, described his wife’s final days during the trial.

He said she had been in a “great mood” because she loved to be with her family at Christmas, but then began to feel unwell at about 5.30am on Boxing Day. She was pronounced dead just over 24 hours later.

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Mr Callagher said: “When Della died our lives fell apart.

“Della’s passing was completely preventable and all three defendants seem to have little or no idea what their actions and in some cases, their lies have done. Our lives will never be the same.”

Mitchells & Butlers was aware of the risks related to the cooking method for the turkey and reiterated guidelines at the bottom of a weekly staff bulletin.

But, Judge Alistair Hammerton said the weekly bulletin was “a wholly ineffective way” of alerting staff to the risks.

Sentencing McSweeney of Suttons Avenue, Hornchurch, and Kaya of Water Lane, Purfleet, he said: “You knew of the death of Mrs Callagher and persisted with your cover-up.”

A spokeswoman for Mitchells & Butlers said: “We deeply regret this matter and have taken it extremely seriously. As soon as we learnt of the incident, M&B conducted a full and thorough independent investigation and referred our findings to the London Borough of Havering immediately.

“This prompted further investigation by the local authority and ultimately led to today’s outcome.

“The individuals concerned had committed acts which were not in accordance with Mitchells & Butlers’ food safety procedures and practices. “The conduct for which they have been found guilty, and have now been sentenced, was entirely their own actions and in no way represents conduct acceptable to, or condoned by, Mitchells & Butlers.”

Cllr Osman Dervish, Havering’s cabinet member for regulatory services: “Firstly, our condolences go out to the Callagher Family, who have been in court throughout the trial.

“We hope that this morning’s result will act as an impetus for all food providers, both local and across the country, to ensure that their food hygiene regimes are thorough and robust.”