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British food delivery worker who ‘bite a customer’s thumb clean’ over pizza dispute pleads guilty

An English woman who replaced a friend as a delivery person in Britain has reportedly pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm, more than a year after a customer said she bit off his finger during a dispute. CBS News affiliate BBC News reported that 35-year-old Jenniffer Rocha bit the customer’s finger “clean” in December 2022.

According to the BBC, Rocha was acting as a “substitute” delivery person for a friend through the service Deliveroo when the incident occurred, meaning she was carrying out the work under someone else’s account. While on duty on December 14, 2022, Stephen Jenkinson, 36, of Aldershot, ordered a pizza.

However, Rocha tried to deliver the food down the street from his address, and when he went to pick it up, he left his phone at home, meaning he couldn’t provide the delivery code. He told BBC News they then got into an argument, and at one point he raised his hand towards Rocha’s motorcycle helmet.

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Then she bit his thumb – and wouldn’t let go.

He said he “shook her helmet trying to get her off,” and when she finally did, he said he lifted his arm and “sprayed her with blood.”

A photo he provided to BBC News shows his hand covered in gauze and blood – and without a thumb above the knuckle.

“The force with which she must have bitten took it off,” he told BBC News, adding that it looked like a chainsaw had taken it off.

In a statement to CBS News, Deliveroo called the incident “appalling.”

“We immediately terminated the account of the affected rider and have fully cooperated with the investigation,” the company said.

Doctors were able to transplant part of his big toe to help replace his thumb, but Jenkinson is still struggling. He told BBC News that he is a plumber and has had to relearn basic life skills, such as tying his shoes, and has been unable to work.

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“Financially I am ruined,” he said. “I’m unemployed. I have enormous debts and I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Deliveroo employs people as independent contractors who can appoint deputies to deliver items on their behalf. But this exempts Deliveroo from legal liability for the incident. Deliveroo told BBC News in a statement that its delivery drivers are self-employed and that the act of substitution “is and always has been a common feature of self-employment.”

But lawyers for Jenkinson told BBC News the incident is further evidence that gig economy companies must be held to account.

“The practice of substitution must be stopped and companies must be required to carry out the necessary checks on all people who work for them,” said lawyer Alex Barley.

A sentencing hearing for Rocha is scheduled for May 3.

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