A JUDGE described the fire safety record of a Fylde landlord as “the worst case” she had ever seen.
Preston Crown Court heard how Neal Gilligan’s appalling upkeep of his seven properties was exposed when a fire broke out at one of the flats on Park Road, St Annes.
The fire service found dozens of life-threatening safety breaches as a result.
All seven of Gilligan’s St Annes flats – on Park Road, St Andrew’s Road South, Glen Eldon Road and All Saints Road – had “serious” issues which the landlord repeatedly failed to rectify, the court heard.
Fire alarms were switched off and damaged, extinguishers and emergency lighting were in poor condition and exits were blocked by boxes, old carpet, broken furniture and, in one case, a motorbike.
Joe Hart, prosecuting, told the court people were put at risk of death or serious injury as a result of the defendant’s failure to consider fire risk assessments in any of the premises.
Passing sentence Judge Susan Beech said she did not think she had ever seen anything as bad in terms of fire risks and photos taken by the fire service painted a “horrendous picture of “dilapidation and dangerousness”.
She added: “It is a miracle no-one was injured or put in harm’s way as a result of your failures. You showed a careless, if not wilful disregard for the safety and lives of your tenants, putting rental income before the safety of those whose rent you were only too keen to take. I am satisfied you simply wished to extract the maximum profit from the rent, rather than spend any money to ensure the safety of your tenants.
“It is perhaps a blessing you are now bankrupt, because that will prevent you from being in a position where you can risk the lives of others in the future for financial gain.
“There is a need to send a clear message to others that disregard for important safety precautions, either once or over a prolonged period, will not go unmarked or unpunished.”
Michael Hayton, defending, added: “A number of factors combined to ensure his attention to detail and ability to deal with the issues were not such that he would be able to keep the properties in an appropriate level of repair,”
Gilligan, of Gloucester Road, Lytham, was given a six month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, with a six months long curfew to operate from 7pm to 7am.
He must pay £200 towards prosecution costs.
Today, Lancashire’s assistant chief fire officer Dave Russel warned Gilligan’s actions could have caused “multiple deaths”.
He added: “He made no attempt to comply with the law and this led to the issue of several enforcement and prohibition notices, ultimately leading to the prosecution case we see the outcome of here.
“There is no satisfaction in seeing Mr Gilligan fined for his failure to make his premises safe, but we are glad as a result of our actions the tragedy of what could so easily have been multiple fire deaths was prevented.”