A RESTAURANT boss is facing jail for employing an illegal immigrant and serving food from a filthy kitchen.

One inspector said the conditions at Chai Wallah in Yarm were the worst he had seen in his 20-year career.

Teesside Crown Court heard that officers believed there was “a total disregard for consumer safety".

They found dirty food preparation and storage areas, clothing, containers, equipment, shelves and pipework.

And they noted food stored at room temperature and a lack of hand-washing or hygiene practice and knowledge.

The High Street restaurant was given a zero rating, “requiring urgent improvement” in September last year.

The operator, Almogir Qureshi, from nearby Stockton, accepted his food had been unfit for human consumption.

The 48-year-old father said personal problems had distracted him from the running of the business.

In 2013, he was given a suspended jail sentence for employing illegal immigrants at Cafe Indigo in Stockton.

Qureshi, of Brisbane Grove, admitted eight food safety and hygiene offences and employing a man who did not have leave to enter or remain in the UK.

The man, said to be “subject to immigration control”, was employed in the Chai Wallah kitchen, the court heard.

Julian Gaskin, defending, said Qureshi was a married family man and a British citizen who had been in the UK since 1976.

Mr Gaskin told the judge, Recorder Ewan Duff: "He understands the reality of his situation.”

The judge gave Qureshi bail until his sentencing hearing at the end of next month.

But he said: “You must understand absolutely crystal clear that custody is virtually inevitable in your case.

“You were in breach of a suspended sentence for doing precisely the same sort of thing before.

“So you must put your affairs in order."

At an earlier hearing, Richard Bennett, prosecuting for Stockton Council, said: “It became immediately apparent that there was a total failure to keep the premises clean and maintained in good repair and condition.”