The owner of a house in multiple occupation (HiMO) in Milton Keynes and her husband have been ordered to pay fines for serious fire safety breaches.
Mrs. Mahin Begum Choudhury and Mr. Ajjequr Rahman Irshad have been ordered to pay £27,485.08 after pleading guilty to 10 charges each. They appeared before Milton Keynes Magistrates Court for sentencing on July 29th in connection with offences brought under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
The defendants had pleaded guilty to their charges at a previous hearing before the court on June 17th. The charges relate to failures to take adequate fire safety precautions at a premises they owned in Ferndale, Eaglestone.
Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority brought the charges following an inspection by inspecting officers on 19 September 2014. The inspection was carried out following a fire safety complaint from Milton Keynes Council housing officers, and identified significant & serious contraventions of fire safety regulations.
The court heard the contraventions were so serious, inspecting officers implemented immediate and interim fire safety measures in order to avoid serving a prohibition notice restricting the use of the premises.
The contraventions included failure to take adequate general fire precautions, inadequate fire protection for fire escape routes, no emergency lighting, an inadequate fire warning system, no fire risk assessment, and no firefighting equipment.
Magistrates also heard that the defendants had let parts of the premises to sleeping guests, despite failing to provide adequate fire safety precautions, and that this failure placed people at risk of death or serious injury from fire.
The court was told of the defendants’ regret, and their failure to appreciate their obligations under the regulations, in mitigation presented by the defence.
Summing up, magistrates said the contraventions of fire safety regulations were very serious and fined the defendants a total of £30,000. This was reduced to £20,000 in acknowledgement the defendants’ early guilty pleas. A victim surcharge payment of £200 was also awarded, along with full costs of £7,285.08 in favour of Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority. The court directed the defendants be given time to pay.
Station Commander Ian Wilson, head of fire safety enforcement in Milton Keynes, said, “As this case clearly demonstrates, complying with fire safety legislation is not optional. Failure to ensure the safety of vulnerable people in the event of fire, especially in sleeping accommodation, is a very serious matter.
“This case shows that people who have responsibilities to meet fire safety obligations may face severe penalties, including imprisonment, if they place people at risk of death or serious injury.
“However, we will go to great lengths to help businesses who seek our advice and guidance about how they may best comply with fire safety law. Any person who asks for our help about any serious fire safety deficiencies they feel they may have, before they come to our attention through other channels, will not normally be prosecuted.”