Restaurant owner battered rat to death in the middle of environmental health inspection

The owner of an Indian takeaway restaurant killed a rat in front of horrified health inspectors during the middle of an official inspection. Environmental health officers were left stunned after Rajakumar Rajalingam left the rat in a pool of blood on the floor, in an incident recalling an episode of Fawlty Towers.

Local authority inspectors also found evidence of a serious rodent infestation, including rat and mouse droppings and gnawed chicken bones, in kitchen and "food preparation areas" of the New Chutney Express in Tooting, South London. Health officers were left "horrified" saying that they had "never before witnessed such a scene during a food inspection".

Rajalingam was fined almost £20,000 after pleading guilty at Kingston crown court to a series of food safety and trading standards offences. He was also sentenced for selling counterfeit goods at his general store on the local high street after trading standards discovered counterfeit Jacob's Creek wine in the shop. The court also heard that Wandsworth council took legal action against him in 2007 for selling counterfeit champagne.

A Wandsworth Council spokesman said: “This was a shocking catalogue of hygiene and food safety breaches. These premises were in a truly appalling state and posed an unacceptable danger to public health. The judge was quite right when he told Mr Rajalingam that he should be ashamed of himself." He added: "This should of course act as a warning to other food retailers who are prepared to play fast and loose with food safety laws."