Update: Verdicts delivered in trial into food poisoning at Hornchurch pub

The Railway Hotel in Hornchurch

The Railway Hotel in Hornchurch - Credit: Archant

A pub chain is facing a large fine after it was found guilty of serving an unsafe Christmas dinner, which a woman died after eating.

Della Callagher, 46, died and 32 other diners became ill after eating at the Railway Hotel, in Hornchurch, on Christmas Day 2012.

A trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court heard how Mrs Callager, a mother-of-one, became seriously ill on Boxing Day and died at Queen’s Hospital.

The jury found the owners of the pub, Mitchells & Butlers, guilty of placing unsafe food on the market and not ensuring food hygiene rules were followed, yesterday.

Today the manager of the Railway Hotel, Ann McSweeney, 40, and chef Mehmet Kaya, 37, of Water Lane, Purfleet, Essex, were found guilty of perverting the court of justice for falsifying food safety records after the outbreak. The pair were found not guilty of placing unsafe food on the market.

McSweeney of Suttons Avenue, Hornchurch, was also found not guilty of obstructing a police officer.

Guests paid £39.95 for the meal, which had been cooked the day before and reheated before it was brought to the table.

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Andrew Campbell-Tiech, QC, prosecuting, said the food was not allowed to cool when it was first cooked and then not properly reheated, creating a perfect breeding ground for clostridium bacteria.

McSweeney and Kaya disposed of all the waste food, preventing health inspectors from taking samples, and forged kitchen records after the outbreak, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard.

An account of Mrs Callagher’s family’s distress as her condition rapidly deteriorated was also heard during the trial.

A spokesperson for Birmingham based Mitchells & Butlers said: “Mitchells & Butlers respects the court’s decision.

“We have taken this matter extremely seriously, and have co-operated fully with the local authority throughout their investigations. Food safety is our highest priority and our employees are required to adhere to these stringent procedures at all times.

“Our thoughts remain with the Callagher family during this difficult time.”

All three are expected to be sentenced on January 8.

For a full report see Friday’s Recorder.