Suspended sentence for pub landlord who ignored safety rules

A landlord has been handed an eight-month suspended prison sentence after his Dorset pub failed to meet fire safety regulations.

What happened?

The offences related to several failures in fire safety standards identified by officers of Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service (DSFRS) in 2016.

The premises, also known as The Kings Arms, advertises as a hotel pub and restaurant, however it appears the main areas of concern were regarding the sleeping accommodation.

An investigation by the DSFRS revealed the landlord, Mr Cockayne, had carried out several alterations to the premises to increase the number of bedrooms. However, he’d failed to review the fire safety provisions which should have been considered after the changes had been made.

What did the inspection report reveal?

  • The fire detection and warning system fell far short of the standard expected in a premises providing sleeping accommodation
  • On two separate occasions, officers found the fire detection and warning system inoperative as the fuse had been removed
  • The escape routes serving the sleeping accommodation were not adequately protected by fire resisting construction
  • An original staircase had been sealed removing an alternative escape route from the first floor
  • There was a lack of emergency escape lighting
  • Self-closing devices had been disconnected from fire doors.

What was the outcome?

After pleading guilty to four offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, the owners of Dusthole Co Ltd (of which Mr Cockayne was the sole director) were fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 in costs.

The landlord, Mr Cockayne, was handed an eight-month suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay £2,000 in costs and a victim surcharge of £140 when he appeared before Bristol Crown Court.

Lessons to be learned

Lee Mockridge, Health & Safety Development Manager at Citation, said: “With the ongoing inquiries still very much in progress, Grenfell remains a very current highlight of how multiple matters can lead to what is and / or would be a tragic event in the case of The Kings Arms.

“Although much of the findings of the Grenfell inquiry will relate to reviewed guidance for multi-occupancy, higher risk residential buildings (HRRBs), it will also personify how steaming ahead with building alterations, no matter the size – and particularly in instances where people might be ‘dwelling’ without appropriate considerations for fire control, is inexcusable.

“Considering the amount that Mr. Cockayne has had to pay across all instances, a fraction of this would’ve had to have been invested in avoiding it, and in turn making his business a safer one for all. In ‘speculating to accumulate’, he has ended up doing himself more, potentially irreversible’ damage than good. We can only hope that this will influence his future decisions as a business owner and publican, hopefully therefore avoiding harm to himself or indeed anyone else.”

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