Earlier this year we reported on the shocking discovery that GFC Kebab House in Church Street, Hove had 43 charges made against them for breaching food safety laws. Yesterday, Muharrem Kartal appeared in court to plead guilty to 41 offences. At Lewes Crown Court, Judge Janet Waddicor, explained that Kartal could be jailed due to the sheer amount and severity of food-safety law breaches at the takeaway.
Since his zero rating from the Food Standards Agency, the leases on Kartal’s properties have been revoked and repossessed, which include GFC and the two properties above which he rented out. It was revealed in court that Kartal had been in breach of housing regulations. He had been allowing more tenants to live in his properties than were permitted by licence, which earned him an additional net income of £139,000 a year. For this breach he was fined £45,000 last year.
He accepts responsibility for his crimes but shocked the court by saying “nobody was in danger as I have been in business 28 years and not killed anybody”. As we reported previously, GFC have been operating for many years on Church Street and have twice been caught by authorities for breaching the law. In 2013 they were fined £12,000 after an inspection found blood, cobwebs, an active mice infestation and a “terrible smell”. Additionall, they have a 2.5 star rating on TripAdvisor with some abhorrent reviews. One user said they contracted gastroenteritis, “within hours I was taken violently ill…I was so ill at one point NHS Direct were recommending I admit myself to hospital”. Another review from 2014 said that there “flies in my food” and a quick scroll further down the page detailed bad staffing, soggy food and illness caused by eating there.
Defense Attorney Sarah Thorne asked the judge yesterday in court to adjourn sentencing after Kartal argued he has lost all of his money since the the closure of GFC and said that he is the sole carer for his terminally ill wife. In the attempt to avoid jail, Thorne also argued that as English is not his first language so Kartal needed time to get a full understanding of what was happening. The judge responded “His command of the English language appeared to be sufficiently good to reassure the food safety officer the broken boiler would be fixed.” Judge Waddicor adjourned the sentencing to next month to give the court time to fully verify the claim made about his wife and to give time for Kartal to provide bank statements.