20 December 2016
Failure to take fire safety precautions and other fire safety offences when converting a public house to a restaurant have led to convictions of two businessmen and £65,000 in fines and costs being awarded against the company of which one of the convicted men is a director.
Israr Rajah, Bashir Ahmed and Mr Ahmed’s business, Mushtaq’s Ltd, pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court. A third man, Akbar Jan, had his case adjourned to a later date because he was not able to attend.
The charges all related to the conversion of the former General Wolfe public house, a five storey building in Foleshill Road, Coventry. The premises were leased to Mushtaq’s Ltd and part of the premises were sub-let to Mr Jan and Mr Raja, who planned to open a restaurant. The ground floor of the building was a sweet shop run by Mushtaq’s.
The prosecution by the West Midlands Fire Service alleged that breaches of the fire safety regulations were found during inspections. Alarms were not working, there was no fire risk assessment and fire doors were missing or defective.
Fire officers ordered that sleeping accommodation in the building could not be used but a subsequent inspection showed that the ban was being ignored and rooms were being let.
Following a successful prosecution for food hygiene failures in the restaurant, a fire caused smoke-logging throughout the building.
Judge Andrew Lockhart QC told the two defendants who were present in court: “It was highly foreseeable that in the event of a fire these premises might have become a death trap.
“There was no meaningful attempt to comply even with the most basic of measures. They were simply ignored to maximise profit.”
Mr Raja was sentenced to six months in prison suspended for two years, as well as 240 hours of unpaid work, to pay £1000 costs and to be subject to a 7pm-7am curfew for four months.
Mr Ahmed received 30 weeks in prison suspended for two years, as well as 200 hours of unpaid work and the payment of £2000 in costs.