Winchester City Council takes action against food hygiene breaches and the proceeds of crime

Winchester City Council has successfully prosecuted Paul Gillingham of County Caterers for storing food in conditions posing a “significant risk” to public health, in a case heard at Winchester Crown Court.

In February 2010 information was received by Environmental Health Officers of the Council that an illegal food business was operating at the home of Mr Frederick Gillingham, 51 Vernham Road, Weeke. Inspectors discovered that Mr Paul Gillingham, his son, was operating the catering business from the property in filthy and verminous conditions. 

Inspectors discovered foods including, cooked chicken, cheese, mayonnaise, and salad in conditions that presented a serious risk of illness to anyone who may have eaten the food. The inspectors seized and destroyed the food to ensure that it could not enter the food chain and cause harm. Standards of hygiene and food safety were so poor that the property was shut down and a Magistrates Court Order issued prohibiting the use of the property for catering activities. 

It became apparent to Inspectors that Mr Gillingham continued to trade from the property and it was subsequently established that he broke the Magistrates Court Order on over 30 separate occasions in an eight month period. The breaches were so flagrant that the Council had no option but to prosecute Mr Gillingham for the hygiene offences and breach of the Court Order.  In the addition, the Council pursued the recovery of money gained by Mr Gillingham through his criminal activity. 

At the hearing Mr Gilllingham pleaded guilty to the food hygiene offences and accepted that he had derived £95,000 in criminal benefit. The Recorder of Winchester Judge Keith Cutler, ordered the immediate confiscation of Mr Gillingham’s assets. This amounted to £2,200 in savings, his car and Ford Transit Van, together worth an estimated £3,250, totalling £5,450. He also imposed costs of £1,800. In addition, a Crown Court Order instructed Mr Gillingham to comply with any verbal or written instruction issued by any Environmental Health Department in the country and that should he fail to do so a custodial sentence would be administered. In total, Mr Gillingham will have to repay £89,550 as a result of his criminal activities.

Cllr Victoria Weston, Portfolio Holder for Environment and Transport said,

Winchester City Council takes its role in ensuing public safety very seriously, and has a dedicated team of professionals ensuring it is safe to eat in the district. This case has involved a lot of work and demonstrates that the Council will not allow food providers to operate in any way that could put people’s health at risk.  The Council is prepared to take robust action where necessary.”