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Chef slept in kitchen after marital rift

PUBLISHED: 10:42 21 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:48 03 July 2010

A chef at a Yarmouth hotel slept in the building's kitchen with his pet rabbit after he had a row with his wife, a court heard yesterday.

The unusual nocturnal habits of Luis Bento at the Fairholme Hotel were discovered by environmental health inspectors on a routine visit in January 2007.

A chef at a Yarmouth hotel slept in the building's kitchen with his pet rabbit after he had a row with his wife, a court heard yesterday.

The unusual nocturnal habits of Luis Bento at the Fairholme Hotel were discovered by environmental health inspectors on a routine visit in January 2007.

During the trial of the hotel's owner Countess Athanasia Constantine for breaching food hygiene regulations it emerged that the Portuguese cook had started sleeping in the kitchen with a rabbit.

Norwich Magistrates' Court heard yesterday that on December 20 2006 Mr Bento had bought the animal as a pet for his wife but after a row he had to move out of the matrimonial home.

On January 9 2007 Yarmouth Borough Council health inspectors found the white rabbit hopping around the kitchen which was in a in a filthy state - but had been closed to the public since Christmas Day.

When asked by prosecutor Colm Lyons if there were rabbit droppings on the kitchen floor Mr Bento replied: “I agree. The kitchen was closed to the public. The rabbit stayed there and I did too.”

The trial has already heard the rabbit was kept in an upturned washing basket amid a squalid kitchen.

Mr Bento had run the kitchen from November 2006 and he had sublet it from the hotel's tenant landlord Costa Pantazis.

Constantine, 39, from London, denies breaching food regulations as she claims that Mr Pantazis was responsible for running the kitchen since he had signed a lease for the Princes Road site in September 2006.

Her defence lawyer John Hardy also argued that because the kitchen had been shut to customers after Mr Bento moved in, it could not be classed as a food business premises and therefore come under the provisions of the food hygiene regulations.

Mr Hardy, describing Mr Bento's marital problems, said: “He fell out with his wife and had to sleep with the rabbit.”

Mr Benton stopped running the kitchen several weeks after the inspection.

Constantine's trial has now been adjourned for four weeks when district judge Philip Browning will make his judgement.


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