ENVIRONMENTAL health officers who visited a Blackburn takeaway following a complaint found it to be infested with cockroaches.

Blackburn magistrates heard the officers also found evidence of rats in the K2 Taj on Audley Range which the chairman of the magistrates said had posed a "serious risk to public health".

Yasar Mahmood, 19, of Adelaide Terrace, Blackburn, pleaded guilty to five offences contravening the food safety regulations. He was fined £350 with £100 costs.

Chris Moister, prosecuting for Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, said the inspectors found several cockroach traps in the takeaway all containing several cockroaches. They also found live cockroaches in all the rooms, including the serving and food preparation areas.

Rat droppings were found in several rooms and there was a rodent bait tray in an upstairs room. When asked if he had a rodent problem Mahmood said he had found a dead rat two weeks earlier.

There was no hot water available in the premises and there was extensive dirt, grease and grime throughout.

The takeaway was closed voluntarily until it was brought up to the required standard.

Martin Hayes, defending, said at the time of the offences Mahmood was leasing the premises.

"He was only 18 and he was very inexperienced as far as this kind of business was concerned," said Mr Hayes. "He has to accept the premises were not up to scratch but that was also the case when he took them over just five weeks previously."

Mr Hayes said Mahmood had realised he was too young and inexperienced to run a business of this nature and had sold it on shortly after. He is currently unemployed and dependant on benefits.

Passing sentence the chairman said Mahmood's desire to set up in business on his own was commendable but it had to be done within the law to protect the public.

"The disgusting state of the premises represented an extremely serious risk to the public and you are very lucky nobody suffered illness as a result."