E.coli verdict declared

Gwent coroner David Bowen has brought in a neutral narrative verdict on the death of Mason Jones, the boy killed by a deadly E.coli bug, caused by a butcher, at an inquest in Newport, south Wales.

Despite strong words underlining the fact that he had died from eating contaminated meat in school dinners, Bowen said he was unable to record a verdict of unlawful killing.

John Tudor and Son, based at Bridgend Industrial Estate, supplied meat to schools and residential homes for the elderly. The inquest heard the business had been selling rotten meat for years before the outbreak in 2005, according to press reports. Five-year-old Mason died after being served contaminated gammon and turkey at his school canteen. Company boss and owner William John Tudor, 58, of Cowbridge, South Wales, was jailed for one year at Cardiff Crown Court in September 2007. Tudor admitted six counts of placing unsafe food on the market and one of failing to protect food against the risk of contamination. The inquest heard how he lied to the authorities about his practices and falsified records.

Detective Superintendent Paul Burke headed a criminal inquiry after the firm was pinpointed as the source of the outbreak. He said staff at the firm were interviewed about hygiene standards during the inquiry. "A number of people told me in an interview about meat that was smelling or poor and, when brought to Mr Tudor's attention, they were told to put it in the faggots," he said. The idea was that because faggots were spicy they would hide the taste of the meat.

Meat seized from the operation was found to contain an identical E.coli O157 strain as the one that killed Mason. The same strain was found at a Welsh farm, where the meat originated, and an abattoir where Tudor bought the meat.