Indian restaurant owner cleared of chilli powder assault over ‘rubbery chicken’

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The owner of an Indian restaurant accused of assaulting a customer who complained about his food by throwing chilli powder in his face has been cleared.

Chef Kamrul Islam was accused of assault occasioning actual bodily harm on David Evans at his restaurant the Prince of Bengal in Tonypandy, South Wales, on January 21, last year.

On Friday at Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court after a five-day trial, a jury took three hours and 45 minutes to clear the 47-year-old father.

Judge Richard Twomlow said: “Mr Islam you have been found not guilty, you are discharged and you may leave the dock.”

The trial heard Mr Evans went to dine in the restaurant with his wife Michelle, arriving at around 6pm and ordering food and drinks.

The couple said their starters were not right but they did not complain, however they claimed the chicken in their main meals tasted of paraffin and was shiny, rubbery and tough.

The Evanses told jurors Mr Islam asked what the problem was in an aggressive way and then started swearing at them.

The court heard Mr Evans followed Mr Islam after he walked away and stood at the kitchen doorway, pointing and shouting, before having the hot spice thrown at him.

Kamrul Islam court case
CCTV of the moment before chef and restaurant owner, Kamrul Islam (left), throws chilli powder in the face of customer David Evans (right), at the Prince of Bengal in Tonypandy, South Wales

In her closing speech to the jury, Ruth Smith, for Mr Islam, said the couple were were “clearly unreliable witnesses” who had “tailored their account”, which was “riddled with inconsistencies” to give a false impression of their behaviour.

She said there were “vast chunks of the evening that they have no recollection of” including the number of times various members went to their table, which was shown on CCTV.

She asked the jury to consider “whether Mr and Mrs Evans were drunk in the restaurant and as a result of drink became abusive, on occasions using swear words and in the case of Mr Evans aggressive and threatening violence to Mr Islam”.

The trial heard the couple ordered two bottles of wine and two Cobra beers but Mrs Evans told the jury they had not started the second bottle of wine by the time of the incident.

Ms Smith said Mrs Evans had “exaggerated” the effects of the chilli powder on her husband’s eyes, claiming his vision was still not good and he had shadows, despite Mr Evans being discharged from hospital with “good vision” recorded, within a few days.

She added: “It is clear that the consequences of the chilli going into Mr Evans’ eyes were unpleasant but just because one person ends up with an injury does not mean they are a victim

“Mr Islam told you that through his years of experience he was alert to the sense of aggression and once the backing away and giving of space to Mr Evans had not worked, that he had continued to act aggressively he felt under threat.”

Ms Smith said Mr Islam did not pick up a knife or something similar when he went back to the kitchen because “his intention wasn’t to hurt Mr Evans but to prevent violence being used against him”.

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