A man thought to be the ringleader of a £1m scam to sell condemned chicken and turkey to supermarkets, hospitals and schools, has been sentenced to six years in jail in his absence.

Peter Roberts, also known as ‘Maggot Pete’, is believed to have fled to southern Europe before his trial, in which he was accused of masterminding a scheme to trim down cheap condemned meat and sell it on as legitimate cuts of meat for a much higher price.

Earlier this year four other men were jailed for a total of ten years for their part in the scam.

Sentencing Roberts, Judge Richard Benson said: “Under the auspices of Peter Roberts the business turned into a dreadful enterprise which exploited the vulnerability of the general public.

“If he had not been the founding father none of this would have happened,” the judge was quoted by ananova.com as saying.