A CHINESE takeaway in Saltcoats was forced to close shortly after immigration officers attended the business.

Speed Chinese and Cantonese takeaway in Saltcoats closed in March last year - days after two illegal workers were found to be employed by the business.

These two workers made up a majority of the business' small workforce of three.

And the man who employed them appeared at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court last week to admit two charges relating to the matter.

Haiou Lu, 47, pleaded guilty to two charges of being an employer who employed two people who were subject to immigration control and had not been granted leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom.

He appeared in court after returning from China days before - having missed his original hearing date because he was out of the country.

The court's procurator fiscal depute explained how the charges came to be when Lu, of Nursery Drive in Kilwinning, appeared in court on Thursday, September 28, alongside an interpreter.

They explained how on March 26, 2022, a Home Office immigration compliance and enforcement team had conducted an intelligence-led visit to the Saltcoats takeaway where two illegal workers were encountered.

They had been working as a chef and kitchen assistant within the premises and were deemed to be Chinese nationals with no permission to live or work in the UK.

The pair were later interviewed where they both admitted to working in the shop six days a week, from 1pm until 11.30pm.

They said they were paid £430 and £550 per week respectively, cash in hand. This payment was given to them in the shop every Sunday.

One of the workers also admitted that they had come to the UK on a six-month visit visa which had long expired.

Both workers also informed interviewers that they were hired by "the boss", who was referred to as Michael.

However, while conducting interviews, officers recieved a call from a phone number in China from someone who identified themselves as Kathy Lu - who stated that the accused was responsible for running the business while she was in China.

Police made attempts to contact the accused for interview, but they were advised that he wouldn’t attend, such were his concerns about any ramifications.

He said he would rather pay a fine and not attend an interview.

Lu was traced on June 8, 2022 at his home address in Kilwinning, where immgration officers attended.

He was arrested and taken to Saltcoats police office.

Sheriff Murdoch Mactaggart, who was presiding over the case, paused proceedings.

He stated that the accused's role was unclear and that he wanted to clarify this to confirm that he was "culpable".

After a short recess, the procurator fiscal depute and defence solicitor were able to confirm that "Michael" - referred to as the boss in interviews - was indeed the accused.

Lu's defence solicitor added that "he (Mr Lu) accepts that they are referring to him".

They continued: "He accepts that he was responsible for the running of the business. He was also responsible for employing these individuals.

"He accepts that he failed to conduct appropriate checks regarding status hence his guilty plea."

Sheriff Mactaggart was told Lu was not working, but would still be in a position to pay a fine.

He said: “These offences are very serious offences that can carry a sentence of six months in prison.

“However, I will restrict the sentence in this case to be a financial penalty.”

Lu was then handed a fine of £2,075, which he was given two months to pay.