A Derry man has expressed disappointment at being denied Legal Aid in his attempts to take a case after claiming he coughed up someone’s tooth while eating a Cadbury’s Eclair sweet.
Philip Nixon from the city’s Cornshell Fields area said he knew the tooth was not his own as there was a crown and a metal fitting attached to it. In fact, he had checked with his dentist just to make sure this was not work he had undergone.
Mr. Nixon said he thinks the tooth may have got into the sweet during the production process, but a spokesperson for the manufacturers responded that it had rigorous safety checks for all products to prevent contamination and that each Eclair sweet ‘passes through a metal detector’ before being wrapped.
Mr. Nixon said the incident occurred during the late summer of 2017 but that he has, since then, been unable to secure Legal Aid.
The bag of sweets was purchased at a local supermarket. Mr Nixon claimed: “I was sitting in the armchair watching a film, it was about 10.30 p.m. I was eating the sweets and I jumped off the chair and choked. I was about to swallow the eclair and this tooth as well. It has a crown with a jagged end on it. It was inside the sweet and actually got stuck in my throat.
“I thought it was the sweet that choked me but when I coughed it up I heard something bounce across the floor. So I went over to the fireplace and the tooth was lying on the floor. I then realised I had just coughed it up. I had swallowed a tooth!
“My partner was already in her bed and I called her to come down to see the tooth. I then had to attend the doctor because the jagged edge of the tooth had lodged in my throat. She told me I had sustained ‘a wee cut’ on the inside of my throat. It was where it had lodged itself. I had swallowed the sweet but the tooth had lodged itself in my throat. My throat became sore so I rinsed it out with salt water, I also felt pain in my head as well.”
Mr Nixon said that he has kept the tooth and the remainder of the sweets after seeking legal advice and while an initial approach was made to Mondelez UK Limited, the company which places Cadbury’s products on the market in the UK, he claimed he has never had any compensation or, indeed, an apology.
“I want some sort of compensation from them, that’s all I’m saying. They didn’t even send a rep. I think I got a raw deal with them,’ before suggesting that he wouldn’t be buying Cadbury’s again. It was normally Cadbury’s I bought, Dairy Milk and Eclairs. I’ll never eat another chocolate Eclair anyway,” he maintained.
It might have been possible, he believes, that the tooth got inside the sweet from a worker on the production line.
“It had to have happened there. It must have mixed in with the toffee and chocolate I would have thought. It got itself into one of the sweets. It’s a very unusual thing,” he said.
“Cadbury’s are saying it is impossible and that it just couldn’t happen, but what I am saying is - that is not my tooth!
“I even checked with my dentist and I never had a crown fitted. I had fillings before I got new false teeth and I didn’t get this tooth from them!”
Mr. Nixon said Cadbury’s had sent him a bag for the evidence to be returned to them, even photographs but he didn’t want to send the actual tooth just in case it got lost. He also confirmed to the ‘Journal,’ that he was prepared to undergo a DNA test to prove the tooth wasn’t his.
“I got shot down twice for Legal Aid. I received a letter to say I didn’t qualify and if I wanted to pursue the case it would £750 upfront, which I simply don’t have,” said Mr. Nixon.
A spokesperson for Mondelez International, which owns Cadbury’s, said: “At Mondelez International we take food hygiene and safety extremely seriously, which is why we undertake rigorous safety checks in the production of all products to prevent contamination.
“As part of the production of Cadbury Eclairs, each sweet passes through a metal detector before wrapping, alongside a number of other steps that ensure the highest health and safety standards are maintained so our products reach consumers in perfect condition.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Justice, meanwhile, said: “The Legal Services Agency (LSA) cannot comment on individual cases.
“To secure legal aid two statutory tests have to be met. The first is a financial test and the second is a legal merits test. If the LSA considers that an application does not meet the statutory merits tests, there is an independent appeals mechanism available to applicants.”