A DEVIZES man has been handed a 10-month custodial sentence after pleading guilty to 39 food hygiene offences.

Gent Jakupi of New Park Street Devizes and Andover Road, Ludgershall pleaded guilty to the offences at Swindon Magistrates Court on Friday, October 8.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Photos of illicit meat taken provided by Wiltshire Council

Wiltshire Council officers also managed to obtain an order banning Jakupi from running any food businesses.

The offences relate to stings by the police and Food Standards Agency, wherein meat was being illicitly cut in some of the filthiest conditions council officers had seen.

The raids were carried out at two car washing businesses in October and November 2020.

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The judge who oversaw the case said “it was a litany of offending over a prolonged period causing public health risks with potential for fatal consequences” and it was an “intentional and flagrant breach of the law”.

Jakupi initially denied he had been cutting meat at the site during the first raid in Devizes, telling officers he was using the bandsaw to cut wood.

This, according to the council, was despite debris from the meat being visible on the machine.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

“He then suggested this was the first time he had been carrying out the activity. CCTV footage seized during that raid evidenced that unhygienic meat cutting had been carried out for several weeks,” a council spokesman said.

“Despite the first emergency closure and the seizure of meat during the initial raid and clear advice to the defendant of his obligation to obtain FSA approval for any future meat cutting operation, authorised surveillance revealed Jakupi had moved the activity to his Ludgershall site without the necessary permissions or hygiene precautions, resulting in the necessity for the second search.”

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Cabinet member for public health, Ashley O’Neill said: “I am pleased that we were able to pursue a conviction in this case, as it was one of the worst cases that our food and safety team have dealt with and the defendant concerned was putting the public at serious risk.”

Head of outreach and prevention at the National Food Crime Agency, Steve Smith said: “The NFCU are pleased to have supported Wiltshire’s food officers with their investigation.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Photos of illicit meat taken provided by Wiltshire Council

"This has meant that the significant food safety risks posed to consumers by the defendant’s activity and online sales across the UK were quickly identified, traced, and meat removed from sale. As a result of this collaborative work, the Food Standards Agency issued a FAFA notice to local authorities to ensure that meat already sold was recalled.

“The extensive number of food offences committed by the defendant had the potential to put consumers and their families at serious risk and this further highlights the importance of working with our partners and local authorities to ensure food is safe and what it says it is.”