After being struck with food poisoning during a harvest dinner, a parishioner was killed and 31 other people became seriously ill.
Elizabeth Neuman, 92, was violently sick after eating the contaminated shepherd’s pie served at a village pub near her church.
Although she was admitted to the hospital for an internal hemorhage, her condition could not be reversed.
Just three of the 35 villagers who sat down to the meal escaped being poisoned – because they went for the vegetarian option.
John Croucher (pictured), the former head chef of the Crewe Arms in Hinton-in-the-Hedges, near Brackley, Northamptonshire, admitted contravening food regulations and was given a four-month suspended jail sentence at Reading Crown Court
Elizabeth Neuman, 92, was violently sick after eating the contaminated shepherd’s pie served at the Crewe Arms (pictured) in Hinton-in-the-Hedges, near Brackley, Northamptonshire, near her church. Although she was admitted to the hospital, her internal hemorhage meant that she could not be saved.
The Holy Trinity Church party had been to the pub on October 8th 2018, according to a court.
But the meat from the shepherd’s pie was ‘not cooked properly’ the night before by the pub’s then head chef and was placed in a pan of iced water, before being wrapped in cling film and put in a fridge overnight.
On the next day, meat was cooked once more and warm potato mashing was added. But it was never checked for heat before it was finally served. The court heard how the chef was ‘rushed’ and ‘had to leave’ the night before.
John Croucher, the former head chef of the Crewe Arms in Hinton-in-the-Hedges, near Brackley, Northamptonshire, admitted contravening food regulations.
He said: ‘I really hate to say it but I think I was rushed. It was because I was hurrying. It is hard to express regret. This experience will be something I never forget. Because of it, I am a better chef and it is just a shame the cost of it had to be what it was.’
Croucher (40) was sentenced to a suspended four month prison term at Reading Crown Court yesterday.
Pub owner and landlord Neil Billingham, 54, of Northampton, was fined £9,000 plus £1,000 court costs after admitting three charges of contravening food regulations.
His company, The Bobcat Pub Co, was fined nearly £3,000.
Judge Sarah Campbell said: ‘A healthy and well person died of a gastrointestinal haemorrhage induced from vomiting. No sentence I can pass can reflect the loss caused to the family.’
She added: ‘The Crewe Arms is an important pub to the local community. I have read many references from members of the community, who all say Mr Billingham worked hard to maintain the support of the community, including Mrs Neuman’s daughter.’
Court heard the pub’s one star food hygiene rating was at the time of tragedy, but it had gained five stars since then.
But the judge did not accept explanations from the pub and chef that the poisoning was a ‘one-off mistake’.
She added: ‘Looking at the evidence, this was not a one-off mistake. It should have taken steps to improve the pub’s performance.
‘Inspections in 2015 gave it three stars [for food hygiene] and in 2017 gave it only one star.’
The meat from the shepherd’s pie was ‘not cooked properly’ the night before by the pub’s then head chef and was placed in a pan of iced water, before being wrapped in cling film and put in a fridge overnight. Pictured, file photo
The Holy Trinity Church party (pictured), had been to the pub on the 8th of October 2018, according to a court.
Prosecutor Carl May-Smith told the court ‘the pub even had the advantage of coaching from the local authority’ – where food safety officers work with venues with poor hygiene ratings, advising them what they need to do to improve.
‘Inspections before the offence showed there was no food safety management system in place,’ he added.
The exact cause of the illness is unknown. It’s also not clear if any frozen meat was used.
Many members of Holy Trinity were present at the hearing.
As they were leaving, they didn’t comment.