Pensioner, 92, died and 31 others left ill after eating dodgy shepherds pie cooked in local pub

Pensioner, 92, died and 31 others left ill after eating dodgy shepherds pie cooked in local pub

A 92-YEAR-OLD pensioner died and 31 others fell ill after being poisoned by eating shepherd's pie in a pub, a court heard.

The church harvest supper ended in tragedy when the pie was served up by the head chef of a village pub in October, 2018.

Pensioner, 92, died and 31 others left ill after eating dodgy shepherds pie cooked in local pub

A 92-year-old woman died and 31 other church-goers fell ill after eating a a shepherd's pie Credit: Hyde News & Pictures

Pensioner, 92, died and 31 others left ill after eating dodgy shepherds pie cooked in local pub

Head chef  John Croucher served up the pie at the Crewe Arms in Thirty one of her fellow worshippers all became “unpleasantly ill” after the meal at the Crewe Arms in Hinton-in-the-Hedges, Brackley, Northants Credit: Hyde News & Pictures

Church-goer Elizabeth Neuman, 92, couldn't stop vomiting after eating the contaminated pie and later died.

Thirty one fellow worshippers from Holy Trinity Church became “unpleasantly ill” after the meal at the Crewe Arms in Hinton-in-the-Hedges, Brackley, Northants.,

Only three of the congregation escaped food poisoning – because they were all vegetarians.

Head chef John Croucher told Reading Crown Court he had “been rushing,” which was why corners were cut in the preparation of the killer pie.

He was given a four-month jail sentence, suspended for 12 months, after admitting a charge of contravening food regulations.

Defending himself in court, Croucher, 40, told Judge Sarah Campbell: “I hate to say it, I really hate to say it, but I think I was rushed. I was rushing.”

Croucher and landlord Neil Billingham, 54, sat in court as the judge heard how the 32 customers fell ill.

Ms Neuman required hospital treatment after eating the shepherd's pie, but died before she could get treated.

Prosecuting, Carl May-Smith said: “Inspections before the offence showed there was no food safety management system in place.

“The Crewe Arms had 35 members of the Hinton and Hedges church at the harvest festival.


“Three ate the vegetarian option and all 32 people eating the non-vegetarian shepherd's pie, fell ill and unpleasantly so. One of the customers died as a result of food poisoning.”

Croucher, who lives in Ely, Cambridgeshire, told Judge Campbell: “When I was working for the Crewe Arms I was employed by Mr Billingham to improve standards in the kitchen and in general.

“A horrible, horrible circumstance happened and it's something you take with you. I now second guess and third guess everything.

“I never had a coaching session when I was working for the Crewe Arms. I hate to say it, I really hate to say it, but I think I was rushed. I was rushing.

I really hate to say it, but I think I was rushed.

John Croucher

“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. “

Billingham had previously admitted three charges of contravening food regulations.

Croucher, who faced one count of contravening food regulations, admitted the charge when he appeared at Wellingborough Magistrates' Court, Northants., on November 25, 2019.

Sentencing, Judge Campbell, said: “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.”

Billingham, of Angel Street, Northampton, was fined £9,000 and ordered to pay £1,000 court costs.

Pensioner, 92, died and 31 others left ill after eating dodgy shepherds pie cooked in local pub

Reading Crown Court heard how 31 members of the Holy Trinity Church went to their nearby village pub for their Harvest Festival supper Credit: Hyde News & Pictures

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