Richard Ferguson spared jail over illegal meat business

Chopping board Image copyright Carlisle City Council
Image caption This chopping board was among the items discovered in the garage

A former market trader who illegally sold meat from his garage in Cumbria has been given a six-month suspended prison sentence.

Environmental health officers in Carlisle found mouldy meat and rodent droppings when they acted on a tip-off.

Richard Ferguson, of Moorhouse Road, Belle Vue, had admitted nine counts of breaching food hygiene regulations.

At Carlisle Crown Court, the 37-year-old was also fined £9,000 and ordered to pay £11,626 costs.

The city council's environmental health officer visited the property, owned by Ferguson's mother, in January 2013 after receiving a complaint from a member of the public.

Image copyright Carlisle City Council
Image caption Health inspectors found a quad bike parked next to a chopping board used for preparing meat

Alongside a sausage-making machine, mincing machine and bird de-featherer was a quad bike.

There were no sinks or hot water for washing food, equipment or hands, and Ferguson did not have any records to show where the meat had come from.

He had also failed to register the business with the council despite it being a legal requirement.

Image copyright Carlisle City Council
Image caption Lamb in the garage was found to be mouldy and unfit for human consumption

Prosecutor Simon Hilton said Ferguson "sold a large quantity of chickens and pheasants at auctions to a value of about £1,300" in December 2012.

The member of the public who complained said he had been buying £300 of meat every month for more than 10 years.

Mitigating, Kim Whittlestone told the court Ferguson had got into debt while running a meat stall at a Carlisle market and had later found it hard to find work after suffering injuries in a car accident.

Image copyright Carlisle City Council
Image caption Blood could clearly be seen in this fridge

But Judge Peter Hughes QC told Ferguson: "You did what you did with your eyes wide open".

He pointed to a previous conviction from 2002 when he pleaded guilty to selling unfit wood pigeons from his stall and was fined £200.

A prohibition order was imposed to prevent Ferguson from running any form of food business and from using the garage, house or the outbuildings for meat preparation.

Image copyright michaelcu
Image caption Lamb unfit for human consumption was found hanging on a hook in the garage