ACT News


Northside restaurant fined $10,000 for being unclean

The owner of a north Canberra Indian restaurant has been slapped with a $10,000 fine after an appeal in a Canberra court.

Taj Agra owner Khawar Siddiq was originally fined $1800 by the ACT Magistrates Court last year after health inspectors found cockroaches on restaurant premises in 2011.

But Justice John Nield on Tuesday increased the penalty to $10,625 after the Director of Public Prosecutions appealed the leniency of the sentence in the ACT Supreme Court.

The Dickson restaurant was shut down by health authorities in February 2011 after inspectors found breaches of food safety laws and reported the establishment was generally unclean.

The inspectors reported finding improperly covered food, unclean equipment, dirt behind a fridge, and live and dead cockroaches.

But Siddiq reacted swiftly, spending between $20,000 to $25,000 to fix the problems, and reopened within six days. The court heard the restaurant lost about $15,000 revenue during its closure.


The 14-year restaurant veteran pleaded guilty in the ACT Magistrates Court to one charge of failing to comply with the requirements of the food standards code and, in October last year, was fined $1800.

But the DPP appealed the decision on grounds that the sentence was inadequate and the presiding magistrate had erred in a number of areas, including deterrence.

At a hearing earlier this month, the Crown argued the magistrate should not have taken into account the cost of the renovations or lost income when determining the fine and had given inadequate weight to the circumstances and deterrence.

But Siddiq's legal team said the appeal was incompetent, claiming court procedure had not been followed correctly in filing the appeal.

The defence argued the magistrate had been correct in determining the $1800 penalty.

Justice Nield disagreed. He found the appeal competent and upheld it, ordering Siddiq pay $10,625 plus court costs.

In making the order, Justice Nield said he took into account the early guilty plea, Siddiq's previous unblemished record and standing in the community, the likelihood of reoffending and general deterrence.

The restaurateur was given three months to pay the enlarged fine.