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11 April 2019
A former publican pleaded guilty at Wood Green Crown Court in London to violating Article 8 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, consisting of his duty to take appropriate fire precautions.
Thomas Melody was fined £1000 and was ordered to pay £10,000 in costs to Hertfordshire Fire & Rescue Service (HFRS) after a fire broke out at his pub, the former Boar’s Head, which did not have a working smoke alarm.
The fire broke out in March 2016, a year after fire safety officers had directed him to install a smoke alarm, and, when firefighters arrived at the scene, they found an alarm had been disabled and the fire doors were not working correctly.
It was later identified that the fire alarm panel had no power and its fuse had also been removed.
Hertfordshire's chief fire officer said the occupants were "extremely fortunate" not to be injured or even killed.
In sentencing, Judge John Dodd QC told him: “I have to deal with you for an offence that does not come often before this court.
“It seems [...] that you had warning shots fired across your bows in 2014-15 when fire officers visited. It is unfortunate that you seem to have treated those public servants with a measure of disdain and possibly arrogance as they pointed out your duties.
“Fire officers found the fire alarm had been disabled and fire doors were not working properly. That is why you appear before the criminal courts to plead guilty to a criminal offence which mercifully had no impact on human life.
“The message must go out that the law is there to be observed for very good reason.”
Thomas’s defence lawyer said that his client was “highly ashamed” of his actions and had apologised to the residents who were living at the pub at the time of the fire.
Bishops Stortford Independent
16 September 2019