AN INDIAN restaurant owner has been fined more than £18,000 after rats were found in the kitchen.

Mohammed Khalid, owner of Sheesh Mahal in Banbury, pleaded guilty to four food hygiene offences at Banbury Magistrates’ Court earlier this month.

Council health inspectors decided the restaurant’s failings – which they discovered during an inspection in November 2016 – were serious enough to prosecute them.

But the Oxford Mail can reveal the curry house was re-inspected at the end of last year and received a one-star rating.

Inspectors once again found the restaurant’s food hygiene and safety was ‘poor’.

In November 2016, Cherwell District Council health officers found rats as well as rat faeces in the kitchen and also said the restaurant’s cleanliness was poor.

The charges read: “You failed to ensure at all stages of production, processing and distribution, food was protected against any contamination likely to render the food unfit for human consumption, there were rat faeces in the kitchen.

“You failed to ensure adequate procedures were in place to control pests - there were rats in the kitchen.”

“You failed to comply with the general hygiene requirement to keep the premises clean and maintained in good condition.

“There was a hole in the wall between the dining area and kitchen, an uncovered external drain and down-pipes and poor cleanliness of the premises structure.”

The fourth offence was for having no documented food safety procedures in place.

The court took into account Mr Khalid’s guilty plea but imposed a total fine of £18,698, including costs.

Public protection manager at Cherwell District Council, Jackie Fitzsimons, said: “It is paramount that our residents and people visiting the area can be safe in the knowledge that they can eat out safely because the food they purchase and consume is produced hygienically.

“This conviction serves as a warning to other food business owners to be extra vigilant and I would urge them to do their best to achieve the highest Food Hygiene Rating they are capable of achieving.”

She added: “The council can help businesses improve their hygiene rating as we offer training courses at competitive rates.”

Cherwell District Council said its officers decided to prosecute due to the seriousness of the failings.

It added that inspectors also discovered inadequate temperature controls and a risk of cross-contamination from raw meat.

When they returned in November 2017, they issued the restaurant with a one-star rating and said its food hygiene and safety was ‘poor’.