Fire safety is at the top of the national agenda following the recent tragedy at Grenfell Tower in London, which claimed the lives of more than 70 people – with many more residents still unaccounted for.
The issue was also the focus of a recent court case, in which a hotelier appealed against a prison sentence for a string of breaches of fire safety laws.
Amandeep Sandhu, the former owner of the Cutlers Hotel in Sheffield, was jailed for eight months in May after pleading guilty to five offences. He appealed against the severity of the punishment earlier this month, citing newspaper reports of similar cases in which defendants received suspended sentences and not immediate prison terms.
However, the Court of Appeal rejected his argument, stating that the cuttings did not represent full or authorised accounts of the cases.
Sandhu, from Coventry, was prosecuted following a fire safety inspection by South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue in September 2014, which found that the hotel did not have a working fire alarm.
During a second inspection three days later, further fire safety breaches were discovered. Sandhu had failed to carry out a suitable fire risk assessment and the hotel was not equipped with appropriate fire detectors and alarms. The 45-bed facility also lacked adequate emergency lighting and hotel staff had not been provided with adequate training.
The dependent’s appeal against his sentence was recently rejected by the Court of Appeal, which ruled that, while there were no sentencing guidelines, the recorder had been assisted by case law and similar guidance on breaches of health and safety laws.
While no injury had been caused, a fire could have had catastrophic results, putting staff and guests at serious risk of injury or death.
The court ruled that the recorder’s decision to take a starting point of 12 months’ imprisonment before reducing it to eight months as credit for a guilty plea was correct.
The hotel is now owned by Saxon Hotels, which bought it from administrators in January 2015 and carried out a full refurbishment. Its safety systems and procedures were also overhauled and it now has full fire safety approval.
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