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Takeaway owner Amman Cheema spared jail after carbon monoxide death


A takeaway shop owner who used a faulty gas heater which killed a 16-year-old girl will not go to jail.

Amman Cheema, 36, of Earl Road, Northfleet, was charged with manslaughter and causing grievous bodily harm.

Both charges were dropped by the prosecution, but Cheema admitted breaching a health and safety regulation.

Chelsea Wright , 16, was found dead as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning at Erith Fried Chicken in Erith Road, Bexleyheath in March 2009.

The faulty gas heater also left part-time worker Tom Hoyne , 19, in a critical condition.

Judge Peter Rook QC gave Cheema a suspended six-month jail term for two years and ordered that he carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.

He was also ordered to pay £10,000 in prosecution costs and £5,000 towards his own defence costs within the next 12 months.

He did not order Cheema to pay any compensation because of ongoing civil matters and because he had an insurance policy in place.

Cheema found the pair as he arrived to open up on the morning of March 16.

Tom was saved after being rushed to hospital and undergoing intensive treatment.

He has been left with extensive health problems, including a severe loss of his hearing.

Cheema's family had owned the heater for around nine years before the incident, but it had been manufactured in 1980 and some of its parts had never been replaced.

It was not burning gas properly and it was producing fatal levels of carbon monoxide when it was used.

A safety switch which should have closed off the gas valve was not working correctly and a butter knife was used as a make-shift clamp to keep the gas cylinder attached to the heater.

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