Former Suruchi restaurateur banned

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A FORMER city restaurateur has been fined £2700 after mouse droppings were found in his kitchen.

Herman Rodrigues, 47, has also been banned from running any business serving food after inspectors uncovered a number of hygiene breaches at the Suruchi restaurant in Nicolson Street.

Council officials discovered the mouse droppings, along with bags of food gnawed open and water from a burst water pipe all over the floor, during the inspection in April 2006.

Today, at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, Sheriff Duncan Allan handed Rodrigues an indefinite hygiene prohibition, banning him from running any businesses in the food sector until the court says otherwise.

The court heard that during a routine inspection of the Indian restaurant, environmental health officers discovered extremely poor hygiene standards in the kitchen.

Examinations of storage spaces found rodent droppings all over surfaces where glasses were kept and dishes were washed.

Bags of food had been chewed open by rodents and the ice machine was covered in dirt.

The restaurant was closed immediately after the April 25 inspection and it remained closed for four days.

Rodrigues, of Kilmaurs Terrace, also voluntarily closed the restaurant in August 2002 under similar circumstances, but the case never came to court.

Rodrigues was the sole director of Indi Foods Ltd, which was fined 1800 in 2006 after inspectors uncovered similar breaches at the restaurant, including a cockroach infestation.

Issuing today's 2700 fine, Sheriff Allan criticised Rodrigues for his continuing failure to disclose his finances.

Despite originally claiming he had nothing to do with Suruchi anymore, it emerged that Rodrigues still owned and let the building.

Before fining him, the court asked him to provide statements and accounts of all his assets as well as tax returns after he claimed he made just 300 per month working at a bed and breakfast.

But for the second time he failed to do this, instead handing over papers detailing his monthly income and outgoings.

Sheriff Allan said: "I can't pretend that this is anything other than an unsatisfactory outcome after an unsatisfactory performance from you."

He said in the absence of Rodrigues' accounts he had to fine him only according to what the offence merited, with no balance of Rodrigues' actual wealth.

Sheriff Allan reduced the fine from 3600 to 2700 because Rodrigues pleaded guilty before the case went to trial.

But he added that he had taken the earlier conviction into account even though it was the company who were prosecuted.

He said: "The company were fined but in effect, as the sole director, you were the company."

Rodrigues said that he had suffered over the publicity surrounding his restaurant.

Suruchi was named Patak's Best Indian Restaurant in Scotland for 1996 and Rodrigues was thought of as one of Scotland's most innovative restaurateurs after introducing haggis pakora and Scottish salmon nan bread to his menu.

The court has previously heard that Indi Foods has been dissolved and Rodrigues is no longer in the restaurant business. The Suruchi premises is now rented out to new owners.