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Brighton and Hove City Council food safety inspectors visited Maison Du Vin in East Street, Brighton, on October 4 after receiving a complaint.

Officials discovered dead mice and rodent droppings at the venue and a case was brought against the restaurant’s owners, Larius Limited, based both in East Street and Ship Street, Brighton.

At Brighton Magistrates’ Court on Thursday the firm admitted two counts of breaching health and safety rules.

Larius Limited was fined £1,500 for each offence, plus £1,496 costs and £120 victim surcharge.

A council spokeswoman said: “They [the inspectors] found two dead mice on traps in the basement and mice and rat droppings in the food preparation, storage and handling areas.

“Droppings were even found on the napkins in the restaurant store and extensive smear marks on the lower skirting boards where rodents had been.

“The establishment’s unwelcome visitors were able to gain easy access to all parts of the premises, from the basement right up to the customer dining area, due to poor maintenance of the property.

“The rodents virtually had their own private corridor as they used damaged waste pipes to travel around the building and drink from them. They were also getting in from holes in the walls that they had gnawed through and gaps under doors.”

Councillor Pete West, chairman of the city’s environment committee, said: “This is quite shocking. When you go out for a meal you expect establishments to be scrupulous about hygiene as a matter of course.

“Sadly that is not always the case and that’s why the council’s food safety service is there to protect customers and prosecute when necessary.”

The counts were one of failing to ensure the food premises were kept clean and maintained in good repair and condition; and another of failing to ensure there were adequate procedures in place to control pests. The restaurant has since voluntarily closed.

No one was available to comment at Larius.

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