ACT News

Cockroach infested restaurant incurs hefty fines

The former owner of a northside Thai restaurant who let cockroaches infest his kitchen and appliances has been ordered to pay fines worth thousands of dollars.  

Ben Thankum, the proprietor of Lao Thai Kitchen in Holt before it closed, allowed cockroaches to breed and die inside food tubs, on floors, walls and benches.

Evidence tendered against the Lao Thai Kitchen in Holt.
Evidence tendered against the Lao Thai Kitchen in Holt. Photo: Supplied

He was also charged with a failure to ensure clean surfaces, letting contaminated material spread in the kitchen and poor food storage procedures.

The restaurant was inspected by food safety officers in February 2014 who became concerned food sold at the shop would be unsafe for consumption.

Evidence tendered against a Canberra restaurant in 2015.
Evidence tendered against a Canberra restaurant in 2015. Photo: Supplied

Thankum appeared before the ACT Magistrates Court on Friday and was charged $2000 for each violation and ordered to pay court costs.

Court documents reveal the kitchen had fallen into disrepair with dead cockroaches left in dishwashing areas.

The documents also revealed food was stored in washing-up areas and sauces left on benches for eight hours at a time.

Ice buildup posed dangers in chest freezers with uncovered foods with exhaust fans clogged with grease.

Evidence tendered against the Lao Thai Kitchen in Holt 4
Evidence tendered against the Lao Thai Kitchen in Holt 4 Photo: supplied

Special magistrate Maria Doogan said the restaurant had since been sold and Thankum had begun working in a different occupation.

Despite this, she said there was a need to provide a punishment that would deter other restaurants sliding into similar disrepair.

Evidence tendered against the Lao Thai Kitchen in Holt.
Evidence tendered against the Lao Thai Kitchen in Holt. Photo: supplied

Thankum, who was represented by Adrian McKenna of Ben Aulich and Associates, had told the court he was not able to keep his restaurant clean because he needed to care for his ill wife.

The food hygiene violations were described as a serious threat to public safety and deserving of a hefty fine, despite his modest financial circumstances.