News 2 December 2021

Chef Handed Suspended Jail Sentence After Undercooked Shepherd’s Pie Killed 1 & Left 31 Ill

2 December 2021

A pub chef has been handed a four-month suspended sentence after a shepherd’s pie dish he made killed a 92-year-old woman and left 31 people ill.

The incident happened when a church harvest supper was held on 8th October 2018 at the Crewe Arms pub in the Northamptonshire village of Hinton-in-the-Hedges.

Reading Crown Court heard how Elizabeth Neuman, 92, repeatedly vomited after eating the shepherd’s pie made by the pub’s then Head Chef, John Croucher, before she was rushed to hospital where she died from an internal haemorrhage.

A further 31 of the parishioners became “unpleasantly ill”, while only three of the congregation escaped food poisoning because they ordered vegetarian options.

The court also heard how the meat in the shepherd’s pie was “not cooked properly” the night before.

Croucher, 40, was  given a four-month jail sentence – suspended for 12 months – on Tuesday after admitting a charge of contravening food regulations.

“I hate to say it, I really hate to say it, but I think I was rushed,” Croucher said in court. “I was rushing.”

He added: “Remorse is an understatement. This is something I will never forget. Because of it, I am a better chef and it is just a shame the cost of it had to be what it was.”

The judge, Sarah Campbell, said: “On 8 October 2018, 35 villagers went to the Crewe Arms for a harvest meal. Thirty-two people ate the shepherd’s pie. A healthy and well person died of a gastrointestinal haemorrhage induced from vomiting. No sentence I pass can reflect the loss caused to the family.

“Croucher was the chef that night. The mince was not cooked properly and was placed into a pan with iced water. Croucher needed to leave, so put the mince in cling film and put it in the fridge overnight. Having left it, he cooked it again and added warm mashed potato. He did not take the temperature when it was served.”

[Image by hlphoto via Shutterstock]