A curry house chef has praised the British justice system after being cleared of assaulting a customer who complained about his food by throwing chilli powder in his face.
Speaking outside court, former restaurant owner Karmul Islam said he was relieved to have been found not guilty of assault occasioning actual bodily harm on David Evans at his restaurant, the Prince of Bengal in Tonypandy, South Wales, on January 21 last year.
On Friday at Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court after a five-day trial, a jury took three hours and 45 minutes to clear the 47-year-old father.
Islam, who said he was now working as a certified air conditioning engineer having closed the restaurant down, said: “I was very confident that the British system would find the right answer.”
Islam said the people of the Rhondda had given him “so much” in the 20 years he ran restaurants in the area and the result meant there was now no question about him.
He thanked friends and family who had supported him over the last 13 months.
The trial heard Mr Evans went to dine in the restaurant with his wife Michelle, arriving at around 6pm and ordering food and drinks.
The couple said their starters were not right but they did not complain, however they claimed the chicken in their main meals tasted of paraffin and was shiny, rubbery and tough.
The Evanses told jurors Islam asked what the problem was in an aggressive way and then started swearing at them.
Mr Evans claimed Mr Islam stood at the kitchen doorway, pointing and shouting, before the hot spice was thrown at him.
In her closing speech to the jury, Ruth Smith, for Islam, said the couple were were “clearly unreliable witnesses” who had “tailored their account”, which was “riddled with inconsistencies” to give a false impression of their behaviour.
She said there were “vast chunks of the evening that they have no recollection of” including the number of times various staff members went to their table, which was shown on CCTV.
She asked the jury to consider “whether Mr and Mrs Evans were drunk in the restaurant and as a result of drink became abusive, on occasions using swear words and in the case of Mr Evans aggressive and threatening violence to Mr Islam”.
The trial heard the couple ordered two bottles of wine and two Cobra beers but Mrs Evans told the jury they had not started the second bottle of wine by the time of the incident.
Ms Smith said Mrs Evans had “exaggerated” the effects of the chilli powder on her husband’s eyes, claiming his vision was still not good and he had shadows, despite Mr Evans being discharged from hospital with “good vision” recorded, within a few days.
She added: “It is clear that the consequences of the chilli going into Mr Evans’ eyes were unpleasant but just because one person ends up with an injury does not mean they are a victim.
“Mr Islam told you that through his years of experience he was alert to the sense of aggression and once the backing away and giving of space to Mr Evans had not worked, that he had continued to act aggressively he felt under threat.”
Ms Smith said Islam did not pick up a knife or something similar when he went back to the kitchen because “his intention wasn’t to hurt Mr Evans but to prevent violence being used against him”.