A Nottinghamshire businessman was sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court on Friday 4 March having pleaded guilty to breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
Mr Gia Kamali, the responsible person at Mirch Massala restaurant, 4 Station Street, Mansfield Woodhouse, pleaded guilty on Thursday 4 February 2016 to six charges relating to breaches of a Prohibition Notice, inadequate fire alarms, inadequate escape routes and inadequate maintenance relating to sleeping accommodation above the restaurant.
By his pleas, Mr Kamali accepted that these failings had placed staff who used the upper floors of the premises at risk of death or serious injury in the case of a fire.
Fire Protection Officers from Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service first visited the premises following concerns having been raised on 14 October 2013. On inspection, the Service identified a number of deficiencies including the only escape staircase from the upper floor unprotected from any fire in the kitchen, a lack of adequate fire doors, a lack of fire detectors and alarms and a lack of emergency lighting.
Given the level of risk to persons using the upper floor, a Prohibition Notice was served preventing use of the first floor except as a store room. Inspections in April 2014, November 2014 and May 2015 revealed breaches of that Prohibition Notice including use of the first floor for sleeping.
His Honour Judge Spencer imposed on Mr Kamali the following:
- Total fines of £15,000 in relation to inadequate fire alarms, escape routes and maintenance;
- one month, one month and two month sentences of immediate imprisonment in relation to the respective Prohibition Notice breaches, each to run consecutively;
- an order for prosecution costs of nearly £14,000.
In passing those sentences, the Judge gave credit for Mr Kamali’s guilty pleas and acknowledged the personal impact the sentence would have on him, coming the day after the birth of his third child. It was said that the sentences would have been greater but for these circumstances.
His Honour Judge Spencer remarked during the sentencing that the premises had been a “death trap”. He went on to say that Mr Kamali had made no attempts to improve fire safety measures at the premises and had only “paid lip service” to the Prohibition Notice and the warnings given by the fire and rescue service. He described Mr Kamali as “either arrogant or unthinking”.
In stating that the sentence of imprisonment must be immediate, not suspended, the Judge said that “a message has to get home” that Prohibition Notices are serious measures that should not be taken lightly and that breaches of them may well result in custodial sentences.
Station Manager Tom Clark, Fire Protection Officer for Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, echoed the thoughts of the Judge.
“We welcome and support the comments made by his Honour Judge Spencer when passing sentence,” he added.
“Prohibition Notices are extremely serious matters and, in the rare circumstances they are issued, must be taken seriously. They are only issued where there is an immediate risk to life or serious injury to those using the premises.
“Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service does and will always seek to work with and support business owners. However, staff, members of the public and visitors using premises within Nottingham and Nottinghamshire should feel reassured that they can do so safely.
“We hope that sentences such as these confirm to the public that we do take fire safety matters very seriously, and that we are committed to creating safer communities for us all to enjoy.”
Further fire safety advice and guidance on all types of premises are available on the CLG website: http://www.communities.gov.uk/fire/firesafety/firesafetylaw/
Help regarding fire safety in non-domestic premises is available on 0115 957 5200 or by emailing [email protected]