Wednesday, 02 December 2015

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Illegal butcher sold meat from Carlisle garage

A filthy garage was the scene uncovered by health inspectors after they raided an illegal meat business in Carlisle.

Illegal butcher photo
Meat portions were packed into a freezer

Related: Carlisle man ran illegal meat business from filthy garage

The interior was littered with evidence of how 37-year-old Richard Ferguson had worked secretly as a butcher, processing carcasses in squalid conditions that posed a serious health risk.

Inspectors found no cleaning facilities, mouldy meat and evidence of rodents.

Yet Ferguson had used the garage at his mother’s house as a base for preparing meats which he sold to customers on the black market.

Ferguson, of Moorhouse Road, Belle Vue, later admitted nine offences under food safety and hygiene law.

At Carlisle Crown Court, prosecutor Simon Hilton described how environmental health officers raided the garage at the defendant’s home in February last year.

They found ample proof that he was running an unregistered food processing business – including professional butchering equipment, a vacuum packaging machine, and bulk quantities of seasoning products for meat.

They also found raw meats, as well as clear evidence of poor hygiene.

This included mouldy lamb and pork joints.

“There was no sink, or hot water source for washing food equipment or for hand washing,” said Mr Hilton. “And there were no traceability records to show the origins of the meats.”

The garage floor and work surfaces were dirty and there was signs that rodents were in the loft space, said Mr Hilton.

“Overall,” said Mr Hilton, “it was the view of [Carlisle City Council environmental health officer Michael Cunningham] that the food posed a risk to health and it could not be considered safe to sell.”

The investigation revealed that Ferguson sold large quantities of chickens, pheasants, and roast birds at auctions.

Kim Whittlestone, for Ferguson, said he disputed running his meat business on the scale suggested.

A former fish and game dealer who worked at Carlisle’s indoor market, he had given up his stall after getting into financial difficulty, she said.

“He is extremely remorseful,” added Miss Whittlestone.

Judge Peter Hughes QC gave Ferguson a six-month jail term, suspended for a year, along with a £9,000 fine and costs of £11,626.

Ferguson had indicated he could pay up with help from his elderly mother.

If he fails to, he faces a six-month jail term in default.


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