A landlord who put lives at risk by breaching fire regulations was slammed by a judge who told him he was guilty of “gross negligence”.
Mohammed Attique ran Tazy’s takeaway on Church Street, Blackpool, where he had two members of staff staying in the flat above when the first of two fires broke out.
He admitted nine breaches of fire regulations causing the risk of serious injury or death at Blackpool Magistrates Court.
The court heard a fire had broken out in the kitchen in November last year and the two men living up stairs woke up to find their escape route smoke-logged.
Warren Spencer, prosecuting for Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “There was no fire alarm and no fire fighting equipment with which to protect themselves.
“There was also combustible material on the stairs area and in the basement.”
The men managed to escape but the fire service served on an enforcement notice on 31–year-old Attique, banning him from having people staying on the premises.
Asad Khan, defending, said that his client’s insurance company had refused to pay out on both fires.
He said: “The place was barely making a living.Now my client is in debt, facing bankruptcy and his marriage has broken down.”
District Judge Edward Barr fined Attique, of Eustace Street, Bolton, a total of £900 and ordered him to pay £2,607 costs and £120 victims’ surcharge. He told him: “I find it incredulous that someone pleading poverty before a court can provide no paper work – no evidence.
“You are guilty of gross negligence despite having one fire you did nothing to make these premises safe.”
Watch Manager Paul Ratcliffe, from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “There have been a number of fires in Lancashire in business premises such as fast food outlets, takeaways, cafes and restaurants where the upper floors are being used for sleeping accommodation. These fires often result in significant financial loss, with a high risk of injury or even death. In this instance the consequences of poor management could have led to lives being lost.”
Four-year-old fled blaze that revealed dangers
Another seaside landlord put lives at risk when he broke fire regulations, a court heard.
The breaches of the regulations were only discovered when the property – owned by Graham Sawings – caught fire and residents, including a four-year-old boy, escaped to safety.
The fire extinguisher had not been checked for six years and a “fault” light was being displayed on the fire alarm panel.
District Judge Edward Barr, sitting at Blackpool Magistrates Court, told the landlord: “There could have been a far more serious ending in particular for the family on the top floor – they could have died.”
Sawings, 41, of Normoss Avenue, Blackpool, pleaded guilty to 10 breaches of fire regulations at the house of multiple occupation on Clarence Street, Morecambe.
They included problems with the fire alarm, fire safety plans, risk assessments, fire fighting equipment, and emergency lighting.
Warren Spencer, prosecuting for the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, said a fire broke out in the middle floor last year, caused by a chip pan. He said: “The family on the top floor were alerted and found their exit full of smoke.
“They had to bring their child down covered in a blanket through the smoke and then raised the alarm getting other residents out.”
The property had been in the hands of a management company but when it was bought by Sawings he took over the role himself.
Allan Cobain, defending, said: “Quite frankly my client bit off more than he could chew when he bought the property for £136,000.
“Mr Sawings was living more than forty miles away from the house and did not attend it as often as he should.”
Sawings will now be sentenced at Preston Crown Court.