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22 June 2016
A Liverpool Crown Court judge has condemned the owner of a shop because he “put employees at serious risk of death or serious injury” and “just couldn’t be bothered” to carry out fire safety work.
Mahboob Hussain, who runs the Shah Convenience Store in Walton, Liverpool, let staff sleep above his store despite being told by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service that their lives were at risk.
There was no fire alarm or fire doors on the premises, Mr Hussain failed to carry out a risk assessment, plus the stairs to the accommodation were cluttered with flammable materials and a fire exit was blocked.
He was also accused of pretending to have sold the business to escape responsibility.
After a fire safety officer went to the shop and found a bed on the first floor, Mr Hussain is reported to have claimed that he was the only person who slept there after working late.
Repeated requests to carry out the necessary improvements were ignored and Mr Hussain then claimed he was no longer the business owner. Finally, police had to be called to gain entry to the premises.
A bed, clothes and a fridge were found in the rooms above the shop and a prohibition notice was issued. Mr Hussain said that workers occasionally stayed overnight as protection against break-ins.
Mr Hussain admitted failing to implement fire precautions to ensure the safety of employees and to comply with a prohibition notice. His legal defence said that more than £1000 had now been spent on fire safety measures.
Judge Everett said Mr Hussain “just couldn’t be bothered” to carry out simple work and “put employees at serious risk of death or serious injury”.
He said, “You didn’t care about your employees. All you were thinking about was saving yourself as much money as you could.”
Mr Hussain was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for 18 months, 180 hours of unpaid work, and told to pay £7,907 in costs.