SELLING food that had been gnawed by mice cost a shopkeeper almost £5,000 in court fines.
Abdul Ghafoor, 58, who operated Tina’s Off Licence on Windlestone Road, Billingham, was fined £3,201 and ordered to pay £1,541.33 in costs, and a £120 victim surcharge after admitting nine food hygiene offences at Teesside Magistrates Court on Tuesday.
Environmental Health officers from Stockton council found the shop in a filthy state with mouse droppings throughout, on the floor and stock in the back storerooms, under the serving counter, the shop shelves and next to boxes of open sweets.
The court heard there was food on sale that appeared “heavily gnawed” and the contents partially eaten, empty food packaging and half-eaten food found on the floor, as well as some uneaten pest bait.
Officers from the council visited the shop after receiving reports of “pest activity” in the area.
They also found food beyond its ‘use by’ date was still on sale.
The court was told that the shop walls, floors and shelves were dirty, there was no hot water to the hand wash basin and an insufficient flow of cold water meant that effective hand washing was not possible.
The front door and roller shutter were poorly fitted and the storeroom door was rotten with a large hole in it.
Mr Ghafoor voluntarily closed the premises for six days to clean the shop and ultimately employ a pest control contractor and set up a preventative pest control contract but Environmental Health officers found mouse droppings on the shop shelves and two gnawed packets of food during a further visit in May this year.