THE owners of a Bendigo restaurant, which had dead rats in its kitchen, were handed $30,000 in fines at Bendigo Magistrates Court on Monday.
Avta Chatha and Ribina Jalill, who operate Indian Tavern Tandoori Restaurant in Pall Mall, pleaded guilty to 24 breaches of food standards.
The company, which also runs another restaurant in Wagga Wagga, was fined $15,000 with conviction.
Chatha was fined $10,000 with conviction for his role as the main manager of the Bendigo restaurant.
Jalill, who mainly oversees the Wagga Wagga restaurant, was fined $5000 with conviction.
The court heard City of Greater Bendigo council officers visited Indian Tavern Tandoori Restaurant several times from April 2012 to April 2013 and found several serious breaches of the food act.
The officers reported rodent droppings on the ground, a dead rat under cooking equipment, food chewed through by pests, and an insect infestation in a tub of sesame seeds.
The restaurant was issued with several improvement notices over the year.
In sentencing, Magistrate Peter Lauritsen took into account their plea of guilty, their previous good character and a number of personal issues which had affected their work.
The court heard in a previous sitting that Chatha’s mother died in India in 2012 and Jalil’s granddaughter was diagnosed with cancer in the second half of 2012.
Mr Lauritsen said the company and the owners would have been fined $74,500 collectively if they had not pleaded guilty.
“I take the plea of guilty as evidence of remorse and acceptance of responsibility,” he said.
“Nevertheless, the level of criminality involved is significant and there was insufficient attempts to improve.”