Pub chef’s undercooked shepherd’s pie kills woman, 92, and leaves 31 others ill


John Croucher, former head chef at the Crewe Arms pubin Hinton-in-the-Hedges, admitted being “rushed” with his shepherd’s pie that poisoned a parishioner, 92, and left 31 others ill

John Croucher admitted that he was rushed when preparing the shepherd's pie
John Croucher admitted that he was rushed when preparing the shepherd’s pie

A 92-year-old parishioner died and 31 other pub diners fell ill after they were struck down by food poisoning at a harvest super.

Elizabeth Neuman was rushed to hospital after eating a shepherd’s pie at the Crewe Arms pub in Hinton-in-the-Hedges, Northamptonshire, but died from an internal haemorrhage.

A further 31 people who had meals at the pub on October 8, 2018, were also unwell while only three diners were fine and that was because they ordered vegetarian options, , reported the Daily Star..

John Croucher, the 40-year-old former head chef, was handed a four-month suspended jail sentence at Reading Crown Court on Tuesday.

Members of the Holy Trinity Church gathered for a meal at the pub but the meat in the shepherd’s pie was “not cooked properly” the night before, the court heard.

The shepherd’s pie was not fully cooked the night before the tragedy (stock photo)


Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Croucher admitted that he had been “rushed” and placed the meat, which had not been fully cooked, in cling film in the fridge.

The next day it was cooked again with mashed potato but the temperature of the meat wasn’t checked.

Croucher admitted to contravening food regulations and said: “I really hate to say it but I think I was rushed. I was rushing. Remorse is an understatement.

“This is something I will never forget. Because of it, I am a better chef and it is just a shame the cost of it had to be what it was.”

Neil Billingham, the 54-year-old owner and landlord, admitted to three charges of contravening food regulations.

The Crewe Arms


HNP Newsdesk/Hyde News & Pictures Ltd)

He was personally fined £9,000, plus £1,000 court costs, and his company The Bobcat Pub Co was fined nearly £3,000.

Judge Sarah Campbell said: “A healthy and well person died of a gastrointestinal haemorrhage induced from vomiting. No sentence I can pass can reflect the loss caused to the family.

“The Crewe Arms is an important pub to the local community. I have read many references from members of the community, who all say Mr Billingham worked hard to maintain the support of the community, including Mrs Neuman’s daughter.”

But the judge refused to accept claims that it was a “one-off mistake”.

While it has since gained the maximum five star food hygiene rating, at the time of the tragedy the Crewe Arms had just one star.

Prosecutor Carl May-Smith pointed out how food safety officers had even been trying to help venues in the area with low ratings.

He said: “The pub even had the advantage of coaching from the local authority.

“Inspections before the offence showed there was no food safety management system in place.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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